I have waited for Spider-Man to return to the hands of Marvel for a long time. It seemed as if it were never going to happen. Sony Pictures had the rights to the characters and was determined to keep a hold of Peter Parker forever. Not that I blame them, but seeing them put out Spider-man 3, ruining the Sam Raimi trilogy with a emo Peter and a waste of time Venom and then trying to reboot the series with the failures that was the Amazing Spider-man (2 in particular), well it appeared that Marvel would never regain the web-head.
And then it happened. A deal between Sony and Marvel Studios to share Spidey. Unbelievable. Then, Spider-man appeared in Captain America: Civil War and, in admittedly, a small sample size, wowed one and all. Tom Holland was wonderful as the youthful Peter Parker and the world that had grown tired of Spidey from the last reboot suddenly found that missing love for the wall crawler.
That brings us to Spider-Man: Homecoming. The cooperative film from Sony and Marvel Studios, where Marvel was the driving force behind creative and Sony was responsible for marketing and promotion.
What a great movie.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is hot of the heels of helping Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in his battle with Captain America (Chris Evans), doing good in Queens with his Stark-made Spidey suit. Peter wanted to impress Stark and join the Avengers while still getting through the struggles of high school. Dealing with the small time crime in Queens takes a turn when Spidey comes across some bank robbers with amazing technology. His investigation of this technology leads him to the winged villain, The Vulture (Michael Keaton).
I am ready to say that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man is my absolute favorite version of the character that we have gotten on the big screen yet. He personifies this character so perfectly. The youthful enthusiasm, the responsibility, the humor… all of it is vintage Spider-Man. Tom Holland pulls it off with charm, warmth and a spot on delivery. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a funny movie. None of the other Spider-Man movies got the quippy manner of the character correct. They tried in The Amazing Spider-Man films, but it did not work nearly as well as here. They also got that sense of how Peter Parker is a hero. He goes out of his way to save everyone. There is a scene near the end that made me smile this great big smile as Peter is shown to respect all life.
You also get the feel of the “Parker luck” in this film more than any of the others. You can see how sometimes things just go badly for Peter. The problems he faces from his every day life because of his alter ego is one of the reasons we can identify with Peter Parker so much. He is us. And Tom Holland shows that side of the character brilliantly.
There have been some changes made to the character in the film, particularly to his supporting cast that might cause some comic fans to be upset. There is no sign of the “Spidey-Sense”, but I did not find myself missing it. I can understand that that might be a difficult visual to display in this medium. You wouldn’t see the black squiggly lines above his head, like you do in the pages of the comics. The side characters all are adjusted quite a bit, from the young and attractive Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to the Ganke-like best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) to the spoilerific change to Liz (Laura Harrier). None of these changes bothered me.
In fact, I would go as far to say that I enjoyed every side character here. It did not bother me even slightly that Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) was not a jock bully and is more of a rich kid millennial bully. The core aspect of the character is still there. Ned is a wonderful addition to the film even though Ned Leeds is a totally different character in the comics than here. All of these characters felt like real kids at a real high school. Marvel said that Homecoming would takes its cue from “John Hughes” coming-of-age movies, and you can absolutely get that tone. There is a great homage to one of John Hughes’ classic films in the movie that is awesome as well.
Another secondary character involved here is Tony Stark. In some of the promotion for the film, it seemed as if this was more of an Iron Man 4 than a Spider-Man movie, but that is as far from accurate as you can get. This is absolutely a Spider-Man movie, and Tony Stark, while playing a good supporting role, is not in the movie that much. And Iron Man is in it even less. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) actually might appear more than Stark does, as Tony places Happy in charge of keeping an eye on Peter. The uses of these characters helps to remind us that this Spider-Man exists within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it does so very smoothly. The use of the Chitauri invasion from the Avengers movie is also a great piece of storytelling that solidifies Homecoming’s place in the MCU.
The film is remarkably fun. The action scenes are dramatic and feel contained. They are not huge, world shaking battles. They are smaller, yet important, scenes to show this kid, still learning to be a super hero, is exciting action.
Michael Keaton is spectacular as the Vulture. He is a very well developed villain, someone whom you can understand and even relate to in a strange way. Keaton is severely menacing in the film and the confrontations between him and Peter were as well done and as original as any super hero movie that you have seen. He was one of the best Marvel villains we have gotten.
This is not an origin story, but we do get the chance to see Peter learning how to work his suit and how to become a hero. They do not mention “Uncle Ben” in the film at all, but you can feel the specter of him. There are a couple of scenes where you can tell the loss of Uncle Ben was still felt, but, we as the audience, did not need to go through that again. You could tell by the way Marisa Tomei acted that the loss of her husband was still fresh for her and there are a few moments where Tom Holland lets the death come into his performance. It was very well done. I initially thought that I wanted some kind of scene where Uncle Ben was acknowledged, but how they wound up dealing with it in Homecoming was considerably better than I could have imagined.
Spider-Man 2 has long been considered the greatest Spider-Man movie made, but I think it is possible that Spider-Man: Homecoming could overtake Sam Raimi’s classic. With so much fun, relatable characters, exciting action, hysterical comedic timing, and the best Peter Parker variation ever, Marvel has shown that they know how to present their characters. Plus, it has one of the greatest (at least funny wise) post credit scenes of all time (all the way at the end… have patience).
Spider-Man: Homecoming was everything I could have wanted.