Release Date: July 5, 2017
Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Donald Glover, and Robert Downey Jr.
Story: Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his new found identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his regular daily routine — distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighbourhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the character of Spider-Man, so much so that I’ve seen each of the previous films multiple times, with full knowledge that I will be left disappointed. Between the comic books, animated shows and a few of the movies, something about Spider-Man always resonated with me, and I’ve consistently found myself relating to this character on multiple levels. My first superhero love will always be Superman and that’s never going to change, but it’s hard to deny that Spidey is one of the most exciting, compelling and entertaining characters in comic book history. Saying that however, we’ve never seen the real depiction of Spider-Man on the big screen, but does Spider-Man: Homecoming succeed where the previous films failed? Do we finally have the definitive version of the infamous web-slinger? Check out my full review below!
First things first, let’s talk about Tom Holland. After his small but memorable cameo in Captain America: Civil War, it was clear that Tom Holland was bringing a new sense of energy to the character, and that same energy is massively emphasised in Spider-Man: Homecoming. After a few failed attempts to accurately characterise Spider-Man, it’s impressive to see how well Holland has been able to reinvent the character and offer a different depiction of the famous superhero. Holland brings an incredible amount of wit and charm to his portrayal and has apparently taken a moderate amount of inspiration from beloved characters like Marty McFly. Holland delivers an instantly iconic performance that manages to capture the essence of who Spider-Man has always been in the comics, a kid that’s just trying to do the right thing.
As they say, a hero is only as good as their villain, and thankfully Michael Keaton delivers what might be Marvel’s best villain in years. It’s refreshing to see a “bad guy” that isn’t interested in destroying the human race or conquering the universe but instead just wants to make a few bucks and Michael Keaton is terrifying in this role. Keaton avoids Marvel’s streak of introducing sub-par villains, and while he isn’t in the movie as much as you might expect, the Vulture is the perfect opposition for this rookie version of Spider-Man. In many ways, Keaton’s Vulture is just as relatable as Peter and represents what the average joe needs to do to survive and provide for his family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s also a major twist that has a massive impact on how horrifying Keaton is as the Vulture, but I won’t be spoiling that for anyone.
What really makes Spider-Man: Homecoming stand out as a great Spider-Man movie is the tone and style that director Jon Watts is able to inject into the franchise. At its heart, this is a simple coming-of-age story that exists within a superhero universe, and that gives the director the opportunity to try something new. My primary complaint when it comes to the previous Spider-Man movies is that we never actually get to spend time with Peter Parker as a teenager, but Tom Holland’s Spider-Man succeeds in his adolescence and it’s amazing to finally see a Spider-Man that struggles to balance his superhero duties with homework, the academic decathlon and of course, dating. Don’t get me wrong, the film delivers the typical action sequences and heroic moments we’ve come to expect in these superhero products, and I would go as far as to claim that this is Marvel’s most inspiring and heroic film to date, but it’s the high school element of this movie that makes you really care about Peter Parker and his life as Spider-Man.
Probably my biggest fear after seeing the trailer was that the Marvel Cinematic Universe and characters like Iron Man would distract from Tom Holland as Spider-Man, but I really didn’t have anything to worry about. Spider-Man: Homecoming does an excellent job of letting the audience know that this film exists within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there’s never a point where Peter is overshadowed by another character and this always feels like a Spider-Man movie. Although the marketing campaign would have you assume otherwise, Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t actually appear as Tony Stark in much of the film, and when Iron Man is on screen, he’s only there to support Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Admittedly, I would have liked to see Peter use more of his own intelligence, rather than relying on the suit as much as he does in this movie, but the interaction and relationship Spider-Man has with his AI system is one of the funniest and most memorable aspects of the film.
Marvel Studios has been able to construct the most exciting and connected universe in filmmaking history, and that’s mainly because of Kevin Feige’s ability to add small teasers for future movies. What I think the previous Spider-Man movies failed to do was give the audience enough to look forward to, without giving them everything in one movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming does an excellent job of introducing characters and villains that will be more important moving forward, and while I won’t spoil who some of those characters are, it’s pretty damn exciting.
What Didn’t Work?
Throughout the marketing campaign and lead up to Spider-Man: Homecoming we were lead to believe that Zendaya’s character Michelle will have a significant role in the movie. Instead, Michelle is probably the most under-utilised and overhyped character in the entire film. While Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Keaton’s characters act more as a support for Holland’s Spider-Man, they have a clear and understandable purpose in the narrative of the film. The same can be said about Jacob Batalon’s Ned, but Michelle has little to no purpose in this movie and on the rare occasion that the character does appear in a scene, she is completely unlikeable as a character, and I have very little interest in seeing Michelle in future instalments of the franchise.
Thankfully, that’s my only major issue with Spider-Man: Homecoming and I have found that it doesn’t negatively impact the movie.
Spider-Man: Homecoming has proven that it is possible to make a genuinely great version of the web-slinger on the big screen and delivers a fun, explosive and charming instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland is the definitive Spider-Man, and Marvel’s streak of disappointing villains is finally refreshed with Michael Keaton’s terrifying portrayal of the Vulture. If you’re a Spider-Man fanatic, then this is the movie you’ve always wanted to see, and if you’re just the average moviegoer then Spider-Man: Homecoming is still one of the most entertaining, and enjoyable movies of the summer.