I’m not usually a fan of a franchise that’s been rebooted heaps of times, but this feels different. This latest incarnation of the classic Spider-Man superhero has a completely different tone to any of the other Spidey films, and other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but in the best possible way.
It’s written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, with Jon Watts as director. Starring Tom Holland in the lead role, and follows Peter in his first proper solo superhero mission in his first standalone film in the MCU. Spider-Man back at Marvel studios!
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a continuation of the new Peter Parker we were introduced to in last year’s Civil War. It’s the first standalone film with Tom Holland in the lead role, and introduces new characters the new story set up and more whilst also solidifying him as a superhero in the Marvel universe. This skips the origin story that we all have seen play out numerous times (Peter gets bit by a radioactive spider, discovers he has powers, Uncle Ben dies etcetera), & instead introduces him as a character who is finding his way in this new life.
Peter is the same as we’ve always known him since his first incarnation in 1962. But in homecoming he is given a bigger sense of realism, which makes him all the more relatable. While other Spider-Man stories have been focused solely on the superhero side his life, this film really shows the normal teenage kid aspect of it. It shows his friends, the girl has a crush on, him in gym class and detention and school trips. It shows him dreaming and waiting for his time to come, as well as everyone doubting him and failing to see his true potential. This is what the character is meant to be the underdog who defies all expectations – that’s what draws people to Spider-Man in the first place, they can see themselves in him.
Tom Holland is really incredible as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He’s got a perfect level of sass, self doubt, kindness & and will to do what’s right in both sides of the character and ties them together perfectly. He has excellent comedic timing and is also really good at really subtly playing on all the emotions of a 15-year-old boy, which coupled with the responsibility of being a superhero can be intense to say the least. He really is great and I can’t wait to see him as his involvement progresses in the MCU.
May is Peter’s Aunt, warm caring charming witty and beautiful, notoriously admired by everyone. I like this young rendition of her, played by Marisa Tomei. With Peter as an actual 15-year-old it makes sense that his aunt is only in her late 40s/ early 50s. Her character development isn’t given much time in this film, mostly because we don’t need her story being explained to us again: we know the tragedy she has experienced, and knowing that in the back of your mind while seeing her as this amazing woman who is funny, charismatic, desired by many but most importantly incredible at raising her nephew. It makes her amazingly inspirational. I love her and I’m so excited to see more of this fresh, lively Aunt May because I think she has so much potential.
Everyone knows who Iron Man is and his true identity, but in this film Tony Stark plays a very different role than we’re used to seeing in his standalone films as well as part of the Avengers. In this he is very much a strict mentor, someone Peter very much aspires to be like and very much respects, but that doesn’t mean he treats Peter in the way that he wants. On one hand Tony hand selected Peter and ask him personally to fight alongside him with the avengers, but then completely dropped him when he is no longer convenient to him.
One of the reasons why Tony Stark is such a likeable character in the MCU films is because you see so much of him you get all the depth to him. In this you only see that top layer, and if you didn’t know about those other layers from previous films then he will definitely come across as a bit of an arsehole. Saying that, in every scene Robert Downey Jr only complimented Tom Holland, never stole scenes – I think if he’d been any more supportive towards Peter, it would have made it all about Iron Man.
Happy Hogan returns as Tony Stark’s head honcho, who is assigned the mission of keeping tabs on Peter. He very much underestimates both Peter and Spider-Man, definitely sees the role is more about unwanted babysitting job. John Favreau is great, I can’t fault his supporting role in this.
One of the best bits of the film is Ned. He’s Peter’s best friend who accidentally discovers his hidden identity & understandably wants in. He is a nerd but that’s not the one thing that defines him. Yes, he builds Lego Star Wars sets & he can hack into any computer system, but he’s funny and even heroic at times. Jacob Batalon is really brilliant at playing this fan boy who is getting to live out his wildest dreams vicariously through his best friend. Having previously only acted in independent films, I am excited to see where Batalon’s career will go.
Michelle. Okay. Zendaya in this role has been the talk of the town since the acting announcement, & even more so now. She really is excellent as the sarcastic, borderline rude, hashtag woke young woman, but I wanted to see so much more of her! I do think that her role in this is to introduce her & then tease us with her – she’s going to be a big part in future movies. And I need those movies now.
The love interest is Liz: the cool, smart, involved, beautiful & popular girl at school. She is immensely clever both academically and emotionally, which is what makes her actually likeable. Laura Harrier nails being the love interest without being an object.
There’s also Tony Revolori as Flash, who is different than any other kind of flash we have seen in the past. He still the school bully who like to take it out on Peter, but in homecoming he’s reimagined is more of a wealthy smug little boy than the classic jock. It works: that old stereotype is outdated.
The big bad villain of the film is the comic book classic the Vulture, played brilliantly by Michael Keaton. The reason behind his evil is a little bit cheesy, and I think his character would definitely have appeared to be quite underdeveloped if it hadn’t been for Michael Keaton’s superb performance. He brings a excellent balance to the regular guy who’s been screwed over by the man, making him a believable villain as well as an understandable one.
He feels destined to play this role but then again that’s the same with every Michael Keaton performance.
The cast is rounded out by Donald Glover, Herman Woodbine, Hannibal Buress, Selenis Leyva, Angourie Rice, Martin Starr, Michael Chernus, Michael Mando & Jennifer Conelly as Karen the Suit Lady. Half of these are pre existing characters in the Spider-Man comics, and most of them villains: the Prowler, the Shocker, the Tinkerer and the Scorpion are all hinted at, and again I think this is Marvel teasing us for now and testing the waters for later films.
The story works really well. It’s simple and easy going – it feels like a classic teen coming-of-age story from the 80s. Everyone seems to be comparing it to a John Hughes film and it’s because it really is like one in the best possible way. It’s nice that marvel of taking this approach with it instead of going down it being a superhero action adventure like in other first standalone films for their characters. This way makes it feel fresh, makes the third reboot of the same character in the past fifteen years seem worthwhile.
It was difficult because it wasn’t the origin story we’re used to seeing. Peter’s already been bit, he’s already figured out his powers, he already goes out & tries To fight crime. He’s already assisted alongside the avengers at this point. The reason why it works is that it addresses that Peter is a ridiculously young superhero, and the story shows his doubters, and shows them proving them wrong. It isn’t an origin story in the terms of him being bit, but it is an origin story in there it’s him finding himself. Which sounds cliche but I love it.
That being said it does feel smaller. It doesn’t seem as big & risky, all mind blowing even. It’s wholly enjoyable but at times it feels like it’s just a bit nice? That does work in some elements to it, but there are some bits which are designed to give drama and because the film feels more intimate it doesn’t give that suspense. It’s a little bit of a slow build, but by the end I was committed.
The action sequences I think you’re definitely one part of what makes the film feel not as huge and impacting. In comparison to grand finale is from other recent Marvel films like Dr strange and civil war, there isn’t really anything that matches up – but then again I think that could just be down to the character. He’s a kid, he’s in high school; it’s not gonna be on the same level as the super heroes have been wearing a suit for a decade.
I will say that I did NOT see the big reveal coming. I’m not sure I feel “the big reveal” is the right way of wording it, I just mean the bit when the two sides of the story come together: the Peter Parker side and the Spider-Man side. I did not see that coming at all, and as soon as it happened I was ecstatic. It felt like the the full potential of the film that we been expecting started at that point and from then on it was flawless. I actually think the film may have been better if it got to that point sooner and spent less time faffing around with action sequences prior to the big reveal (I’m not sure if the ferry sequence, though visually cool, was necessary to the story except for Stark to get mad).
I am a big big fan of the new spider suit. It just looks so beautiful. I love the practicality of it as well I love that we see Peter putting on the suit and seeing how it functions as a real item of clothing. There is new additions that haven’t been seen in films before like web wings from the arms that allow him to glide when jumping which is actually really cool. Louise Frogley also rounds out all the other characters really nicely – it’s the first time we’re meeting them and she did a really good job of displaying their personalities visually (big fan of Aunt May’s high waisted trousers).
Keeping up with the 80s theme the soundtrack is full of classic songs. Again I think this is a little bit Marvell trying to keep the ball rolling after the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks, but it does really work well in Homecoming. This is accompanied with a score by Michael Giacchino that perfectly encapsulates the young superhero feel of the film, as proven by the brilliant titles of the tracks such as Stark Raving Mad and Pop Vulture. And hello, the original Spider-Man theme song is back – my Spidey senses were tingling.
All in all the more I think about it the more successful I think this film is. It is a completely original feel to the story which was massively important after all the other franchises; seamlessly introduces us to new characters and all characters reimagined; presents an exciting and adventure field story that doesn’t feel too life or death serious; and just has fun with it being back in the MCU.
It feels joyous – it feels like a homecoming.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is in cinemas now.