Spider-Man: Homecoming Review
Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Robert Downey, Jr., Jon
Favreau, Bokeem Woodbine, Donald Glover, Logan Marshall-Green, Tyne Daly, Martin Starr Chernus
Written by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts
Director of Photography by Salvatore Totino
I grew up watching Spider-Man cartoons on Fox Kids. I loved Spider-Man, as well as countless other kids my age, and I wanted to be Spider-Man. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was a dream come true back in 2002. Then, the remake The Amazing Spider-Man came out, and despite its flaws, I loved that film, too. From Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield, there was something each actor brought to the table that had many fans divided as to which one was better.
After the disaster called The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the troubled handling of the Spider-Man property over at Sony, a deal was struck to bring Peter Parker over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland impressed in his first outing in Captain America: Civil War and many, like myself, wanted to see more. Spider-Man: Homecoming takes the character in a new direction, one being casting a much younger actor in Holland.
Swinging Back Into Our Hearts
Spider-Man: Homecoming maintains some elements from The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, including its colorful cinematography that make frames of Spider-Man pop, as if lifted directly from the page. Where The Amazing Spider-Man failed in setting up a deeper world of villains, Homecoming does a decent job of creating an underworld of crime that feels lived in.
Director Jon Watts’ last film, Cop Car, was the perfect stepping stone for this film. Both films tackle a boy-like wonder and sense of exploration at risk by a villainous adult.
Holland brings that boy-like wonder to the character, a trait that was missing from the previous five films. Parker and Spider-Man are neither cool but his awkwardness as both make this iteration of Spider-Man endearing.
Connections to the MCU
Opening the film days after the events of The Avengers ties the Spider-Man franchise right back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aside from fighting alongside Iron Man and Captain America in Civil War, actually seeing the destruction of the Chitaurri on a ground level establishes what kind of New York these characters are living in and sets up Michael Keaton’s vulture-esque villain.
Keaton, as always, gives a fantastic performance as Adrian Toomes. His scowl and low-gravely voice come off as intimidating, especially in a scene toward the end of the film. Marvel films have the issue of failing to create engaging, vibrant villains. Toomes is a step in the right direction but not quite there just yet. Instead of falling into the formula of creating a “villain-of-the-week” – as in Thor, Captain America, Iron Man 2, Doctor Strange, et cetera – the film is set up to have the audience grow with Toomes in much the same fashion as we did with Loki.
Parker’s dynamic with Ned adds another layer to the film. Their friendship is easily my favorite of the three franchises because of how much Holland and Batalon share chemistry. Nearly the entire group of decathlon teammates feel like the misfits of the high school, a sly reference to John Hughes films of yesteryear. Watts never allows the film to falter when following Parker around high school. Homecoming does something that the previous iterations of Spider-Man never managed to do and that’s making Peter Parker as fun as his alter ego, save dancing in the streets with a “Flock-of-Seagulls” haircut.
Some Minor Woes
At just a smidge over two hours, you could feel its length. There is a long time that the film feels less like a Spider-Man film and more like an Iron Man substitute.
Watching Peter cycle through the gadgets of his new suit is fun, but for an entire act it felt a little like overkill and strayed away from what made Spider-Man such a great character: his ingenuity. Once that’s stripped away and Peter is left to his own devices – including his homemade suit – the film starts to feel like a Spider-Man story. However, the “With Great Power” replacement line used to rouse up Spider-Man in the final act is a weak substitute.
That doesn’t mean the film lulls because it rarely does. Its fun factor is correlated with how colorful and vibrant the cinematography is. The entire film rides on Holland’s shoulders and he nails what it means to be Peter Parker and Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the start of a new trilogy that I can not wait to see more off.