Released July 7, 2017
Rated PG-13 (Sci-Fi Action Violence, Some Language, Brief Suggestive Comments)
Directed and Written by Jon Watts (Clown, Cop Car)
Also Written by Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), John Francis Daley (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Horrible Bosses 2), Christopher Ford (Robot & Frank, Eugene!), Chris McKenna (Community, The LEGO Batman Movie), and Erik Sommers (American Dad!, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Cinematography by Salvatore Totino (Cinderella Man, The Dilemma)
Music by Michael Giacchino (Doctor Strange, Rogue One)
Edited by Dan Lebental (Iron Man, Ant-Man) and Debbie Berman (Space Chimps, The Final Girls)
Produced by Kevin Feige (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Amy Pascal (Ghostbusters, Molly’s Game)
Starring Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, The Lost City of Z), Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman), Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes), Jacob Batalon (North Woods, The True Don Quixote), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler, Crazy Stupid Love), Laura Harrier (One Life to Live, The Last Five Years), and Zendaya (Frenemies, Shake It Up!)
I’ve wanted Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since the MCU became a thing. However, I was only hesitantly excited. This is the sixth theatrical Spider-Man movie and the third Spider-Man reboot in fifteen years. C’mon, guys! Some of us are getting Spidey fatigue! Could this one really turn out differently?
I had no need to worry. Sony, Marvel, Watts, and the rest of the crew made Spider-Man: Homecoming a good movie, probably the best Spidey flick since 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
This movie’s trailers have already spoiled too much, so I’ll tread lightly. I will say . . .
Thank GOODNESS we don’t have to watch Uncle Ben die again!
Honestly, I hoped Homecoming would totally skip the origin story and drop us into the action, and it does! In fact, perhaps slightly to its detriment, Homecoming assumes your familiarity with Spidey’s traditional origins and his MCU induction in Captain America: Civil War. After an opener that introduces the villain, Vulture (Keaton), and some scenes that intriguingly show us Peter’s (Holland) perspective on his first outing with the Avengers in Germany, we land in Parker’s post Civil War life. We watch as he juggles high-school; being a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man in his very own Queens; trying to impress Tony Stark (Downey Jr.), who has taken Uncle Ben’s place as Peter’s father figure; working with the overprotective Happy (Favreau); and attempting to earn a permanent spot with the Avengers.
Pete’s life just isn’t glamorous. Stark pretty much ignores him, and Spider-Man’s heroic evenings consist primarily of stopping petty thieves and giving old ladies directions. In school, he’s doing well, but he longs for more. Post Germany, he feels cooped up.
Soon, though, he stumbles upon a crime organization, led by Vulture, bigger and more dangerous than he’s ever encountered. Though he’s out of his league, he feels duty-bound to stop this threat. After all, no one believes him, and he’s so eager to prove himself.
Tom Holland truly portrays Peter Parker as a high-schooler here, and as a high-school Pete, he’s probably the best of the three theatrical Spider-Men thus far, looking and acting like a high-schooler would. Also, though Tobey Maguire is my favorite Peter Parker, and Andrew Garfield was my favorite Spider-Man (he may still be), Tom Holland is the best at effortlessly portraying both Pete and his alter ego. His struggles seem very real, too, and he is the most realistic, grounded, and relatable Spider-Man we’ve seen, though I still find Raimi’s/Tobey Maguire’s more emotionally resonant and thematically satisfying.
As the villain, Michael Keaton is fantastic. But he’s Michael Keaton, so we expect that. What I found especially good are his interactions with Holland. I also find Vulture both one of the best MCU villains and one of the best Spider-Man movie villains. In the MCU, I would only place Loki and Ego above him, and I would place Green Goblin and Doc Ock above him in the Spider-Man realm – though they are certainly more corny – because they are dramatically more fun and pitch-perfectly fit Raimi’s movie’s tone. Vulture’s motivations are clear and completely understandable, like all good villains.
All the supporting actors do well, too, especially Marissa Tomei, who is wonderful as a younger Aunt May. Everyone here makes for great characters, and the characters are what make this movie. None of them are cringe-worthy, they’re all likable, and I want to know more about them.
The movie moves at a brisk pace and keeps us engaged, whether we are seeing Peter’s high-school problems, his Spider-Man struggles and attempts to impress Stark, or his efforts to keep this other life of his a secret. I also like that we get a less confident, less competent Spidey, because that’s more accurate to how a fifteen-year-old kid would react to all these things. He’s slowly learning how to be a hero. In the previous incarnations, a teenager, for pity’s sake, is too quickly comfortable with everything. Homecoming‘s portrayal is a process, like it should be. The movie provides some good humor, too, and, in fact, the whole movie has many laugh out loud moments. It’s in many ways a comedy, like Ant-Man or Guardians.
I do have to get into my negatives though, and first I’m going to give a pro/con, which is the film’s involvement with the rest of the MCU. The movie does function pretty well on its own, but at the same time, it also feels like something else: episode 16 of the Marvel show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m loving the MCU so far with its comics-like fun, exciting, interconnected world. After Homecoming’s conclusion, I’m left wanting to discover the next thing, even though the current episode did satisfy me. Still, this contributes to a lack of a feeling of timelessness or existence outside the MCU, something that movies like Iron Man, the two Guardians, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier accomplished beautifully. In addition, though Iron Man’s inclusion works in the movie, and the way the movie works in the aftermath of The Avengers and Civil War are excellent as well, some other things seemed forced. I was glad to see Happy, though.
I could go on with positives and negatives, but I need to wrap this up, so I’ll just say my other negatives are the “just OK” elements of the movie. The special effects, though implemented well, are mostly just adequate – except for Vulture, whose design and movements are cool and weighty. Also, the cinematography, lighting, editing, a little of the music, and a bit of the action, are just good to sufficient.
Overall, I definitely recommend Homecoming. I had a lot of fun with it, and I think you will too. The filmmakers had a good time playing with and subverting some of the Spider-Man movie tropes, along with creating a charming, light-hearted, and entertaining flick.
I’m going to give Spider-Man: Homecoming an 81%.
I could have gone into more depth, but, as always, I want to avoid spoilers and most of my other relevant comments include them. If you want to know how close this Spider-Man incarnation is to the comics, I think it is both closer to many of the comics and further from them than the two previous Spider-Men have been.
P.S.: Watch out for a fun use of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and a reference to a favorite movie of mine, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that is especially apt, as the high-school drama stuff is reminiscent of a John Hughes film. Be on the lookout, too, for other neat Easter eggs, like, of all things, Captain America PSAs.