In fifteen years cinemagoers have seen three different Peter Parkers don the famous spider themed spandex. In 2002 Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire brought Spider-Man to the big screen for the first time, and two out of his three films were fantastic. After the trilogy ended on a bitter note with Spider-Man 3 audiences didn’t have to wait long for the next incarnation of Spider-Man. This iteration starred Andrew Garfield and was helmed by Marc Webb, and the two films were met with mixed reviews. Now with Sony and Marvel together for a historic partnership Spidey has joined the MCU and with his spectacular debut in Captain America: Civil War it’s time for his first solo MCU adventure, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The story of Spider-Man: Homecoming is an unusual one when put up against other films of the genre. It focuses on the intimate relationships between each character, as well as the intricate balance Peter has to maintain to make sure his secret identity isn’t outed immediately and then it has to make sure that this Spider-Man can exist in an Avengers world and not need constant Avengers intervention. Spider-Man: Homecoming is not so much an origin story as a defining moment in the life of this young superhero. After the events in Captain America: Civil War Peter (Tom Holland) is on cloud nine, he’s worked with the Avengers and after getting to keep his suit given to him by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) he feels like he can finally graduate to the big leagues and become an Avenger, saving the world on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and Peter feels he is not properly utilised. When suspicious tech wielded by thugs starts to appear on the streets, Peter decides this is the perfect opportunity to show off his skills to Tony and the Avengers, and from there Spider-Man gets his first dose of real superheroism, including his own supervillain.
Charming, this is the common thread running throughout Spider-Man: Homecoming. The cast is charming, the story is heartwarming, and even the motivations of the villain has a kind of relatability to it. Even though Spider-Man has the capability of an Avenger level hero, he is working within a world that is more akin to the Defenders. His problems are more relatable, his foes aren’t mythical or alien, and the way all the characters in Spider-Man: Homecoming interact come off as remarkably human and engaging. Spearheading this theme is the star of the film Tom Holland, one film into the MCU and already he embodies the energetic spirit of Peter Parker. He’s a charming kid and has a remarkable wit about him that also immediately ingratiates him to the audience. Bringing up the rear is a brilliant supporting cast led by Jacob Batalon who plays Ned, Peters best friend, he’s an excellent foil to Peter, and brings in a lot of the comedic elements in the film. No Marvel film would be complete though without Robert Downey Jr’s infamous Iron Man and in this movie, Stark plays mentor to Spidey. He’s there to remind the audience that this is in the MCU and also as a moral barometer to Peter always telling him that he wants Peter to become a better superhero than he could ever become. This adds a nice emotional core to their relationship and shows that Tony is still learning to be a better person after the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Another fun character on the other side of the spectrum is Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture (Michael Keaton), possibly one of the most interesting villains in the MCU. Keaton also is up there as likely the best villain any cinematic Spider-Man has had to face. He’s smart, intense and at the drop of a hat he’s incredibly brutal, and it makes him so compelling especially when you can completely understand where his motivations come from and that’s what makes him such a great villain.
There are some issues, but these are mainly because this is the third iteration of a character that the audience has become incredibly familiar with. This means that there are certain tropes which are unique to a Spider-Man film and they rear their ugly head. For example, with this being a new iteration the reset button has been hit with who knows Peter’s secret and this has become somewhat maddening as we have to put up with the same lame excuses Peter has always made up in these films. On the technical side Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t feel as revolutionary as its predecessors, Peter relies far too much on the tech in his suit than his actual superhuman abilities and it comes off as a toy advert rather than a superhero film. Another aspect that could have been improved on was the action, the action sequences feel all too familiar, one in particular scene seems like a rip off of one of the most iconic scenes in Spider-Man 2. Hopefully, the action will be more intricate in later instalments. On a side note for diehard fans, Peter does not seem to have any form of a spider-sense and this seems to be a constant problem with all the films. No director seems to understand how to fully utilise all of Peters abilities especially one of his most famous and it’s a real shame.
Ultimately Spider-Man: Homecoming is a lot of fun with a strong emotional core, great performances and is a strong debut for the web-slinger. Here’s to more adventures with Spidey in the coming years as Tom Holland grows into the role.