The sixth film featuring everyone’s favorite wall-crawling superhero has the added caveat of officially being a part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming not only presents a different on-screen version of the titular character but also it’s most endearing.
High School is the name of the game here. While Sam Raimi and Marc Webb used Peter Parker’s high school experience as a set piece to establish a bigger narrative, Director Jon Watts etches it in Homecoming’s DNA. Homework or crime fighting? That is the question.
What made the high school narrative standout was the aesthetic of a diverse cast of younger actors as Peter’s classmates. Speaking as someone in their mid-thirties, seeing “kids” making various decisions made it easy to chalk it up to growing pains.
British actor Tom Holland superbly handles the titular role in every aspect. Whether he’s fighting villains, admonished by the principal, trying to impress Tony Stark, or courting a young lady on his academic decathlon team, Holland emotes every emotion required while maintaining the character’s core sense of optimism.
Spider-Man is truly a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” here, which is a breath of fresh air and harkens back to some of his most memorable comic book adventures. Also, no origin story, no Uncle Ben, and no spider-sense, which the new enhanced costume makes up for.
When Michael Keaton was cast as the film’s villain, I had a feeling that we would see something different instead of the cookie cutter bad guy that Marvel likes to present. Well, I was right. Keaton’s Vulture is not simply a vehicle to for the hero to conquer.
In fact, he’s a true antagonist with depth and motivation essential to the plot. He’s truly challenged Spider-Man in ways that other bad guys have failed to do in previous MCU movies. Keaton shines as someone who was easily cast aside by the ivory tower establishment and is the best villain since Loki and Kingpin.
There is honestly nothing that I didn’t like about the movie, however, if I have to nitpick, then there are a couple of things that I question. Throughout the movie, Peter is practically begging to be an Avenger. Why would anyone put Spider-Man, the crown jewel of Marvel’s stable of superheroes, in such a light?
Also, why does Tony Stark want Peter to prove himself if he already did so in Captain America: Civil War? If you can put aside Spider-Man’s legacy as a whole, there is a specific story being told here. Spider-Man is young, green and just starting out. Plus, Stark was absolutely frightened when he saw Peter down and out after being whacked by a giant Ant-Man in the aforementioned Civil War.
Despite Peter’s spectacular talents and abilities, Stark realizes that he’s still just a kid. Making Peter stay to the ground was Stark’s way of reminding himself of Peter’s youth, which is a fact that could get easily get lost in the shuffle.
I’m going to use this part of the review to jump for joy over one small piece of spoiler information that was revealed in the movie. MILES MORALES IS IN THE UNIVERSE! His name wasn’t mentioned and he wasn’t even seen, however, the fact that they confirmed his existence in the manner they did means that Marvel/Sony are planning out his eventual arrival.
For all the great things we get from Homecoming, above all else, this movie a lot of fun. Yes, it’s connected to the MCU but it’s very much Spider-Man’s story. What separates this outing from the other comic book flicks is that we are going to see Peter Parker grow, learn and mature in future movies that will lead him to eventually become the Spider-Man who is arguably the greatest superhero of all-time.
That’s the overarching aspect that no other movie in the genre can provide.