Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 2o17 super hero, comic book film from Sony and Marvel Studios. The third iteration of the character on the big screen and the fifth of the comics’ theatrical films, it was directed by Jon Watts, written by Watts, Christopher Ford, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.
It stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, back home in Queens after his trip to Germany and his brief stint as part of the Avengers team. Thrilled to have worked with Tony Stark, Peter is anxiously awaiting their next mission together with the Avengers team, but is hardly able to reach Tony. When he’s not busy being a super hero, he’s a regular 15 year old boy in high school. After he stops a band of bank robbers using super weapons and retrieves a piece of their equipment, he discovers a group of arms dealers selling the weapons and must face his first real threat; Vulture.
This film isn’t much of an origin story for Peter Parker, or rather, Spider-Man. Having had a plethora of on-screen adaptations – big and small; live-action and animated – of the Spider-Man comics, we already know how he got his powers. And with The Amazing Spider-Man only having been released five years ago, in 2012, a Spider-Man origin story is still fresh in the public consciousness.
Instead what we have with this film is more of a coming-of-age story that fits right in with it’s high school/teen movie sensibilities. It’s more about Peter coming into his own as Spider-Man than anything else. He matures as a hero, going from dealing with street level crime like theft from everyday criminals, to a bonafide super villain, Adrian Toomes/Vulture, decked out in his own tech based suit and selling super weapons to people who are little more than petty criminals (like the bank robbers).
Peter is trying really hard to prove himself to Tony. He goes so far as to quit all of his extracurricular activities just in case he gets called in suddenly. He wants to be a superhero and seems to take it seriously, but it comes off more like he’s a child playing at being serious than actually being serious. Like he’s only going so far because he thinks that’s what he needs to do. He hasn’t yet fully grasped the gravity of being a superhero and what it really means.
That is until near the end of the film, when he confronts Vulture and is truly in a dire situation. It’s the pivotal character moment for Peter in which he fully becomes Spider-Man. It could have been very powerful and for some it certainly was, but it’s handle in such a cliche way – a voice over of the mentor saying that one inspirational line to the hero – that it hardly even lands.
It’s supposed to be this emotional high point, but is bogged down by a sense of “Ugh. I’ve seen this too many times before.” It’s a little cheesy. The film surrounding, though, is good enough that isn’t much of a bother. It’s pretty much the only “bad” thing about the film.
Tom Holland does an excellent job playing Peter/Spider-Man. More than just looking the part, having been 15 all of six years ago, he’s still young enough to remember what being an awkward teen was like and fully embodies it. Some things about Peter that could be annoying – like his desperation to impress Tony and his persistent calling and texting of Happy – are instead endearing in Holland’s portrayal. He’s adept at firing off Peter’s funny little witticism and captures the every man quality that is innate to the character.
Vulture is the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a long time (maybe even of all time). He’s relatable, has a solid motivation and is a full character. He’s not a “bad guy” for the sake of being a “bad guy” and doesn’t do “bad things” because the plot demands it. He’s a husband and father that’s just trying to provide for his family after putting everything he had into a business opportunity that, for all intents and purpose, would have done well for him. Until he got screwed over by a giant, Stark owned corporation that took it away from him.
His introduction is short and to the point. It’s incredibly effective in establishing who he is, what he wants and making the audience understand the why of his actions. You really can’t blame him for doing what he does. It’s also satisfying in that someone who you want him to punch, actually gets punched.
Michael Keaton is spectacular (pun intended) as Vulture. It kind of goes without saying that he would give a great performance: it’s Michael Keaton. He’s intimidating and commanding without ever being unlikable and even funny at times.
Vulture is intelligent, quickly putting something together that is painfully obvious. Despite not being as unsavoury a character as some of the people on his team, it’s believable that he is someone that they would follow. He also [Spoiler; highlight to reveal] has no qualms about beating up a 15 year old child or killing him [Spoiler]. Which kind of makes you like him more. Just because it demonstrates how unyielding he is in achieving his goal and that he won’t let anyone get in the way of it, no matter who they are.
Tony, thankfully, isn’t in the film as much as the trailers suggested. In fact, there’s a shot from the trailer that wasn’t in it at all. His appearances are few and short and he serves his purpose; being a mentor to Peter and the voice in his head that keeps him motivated. He was utilised well and just enough.
Peter’s best friend Ned is fairly irritating. He’s likable, but he’s irritating. His nerding out over Peter’s being Spider-Man, though understandable, gets really old really fast. He asks him questions about his superhero identity in settings where it’s totally unwise and damn near outs Peter because he can barely contain himself with the excitement and need to let everyone know. You almost want to reach through the screen, grab him by the shoulders, stare him right in the face and tell him to calm down already.
Zendaya’s Michelle is hardly a character. She pops up out of nowhere, delivers a sarcastic, biting comment and then she’s gone. That being said, she’s enjoyable and likable all the same. But snarky characters tend to be. Given how much of a presence Zendaya was in the press for the film, one would think she was a secondary character. She’s more of a tertiary character than anything else. She more or less does nothing.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is an entertaining film and one of the best of all of Spider-Man’s big screen adaptations and one of the better films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s funny, it’s fun and it’s exciting.