Spider-man: Homecoming

I probably couldn’t have asked for more from a second reboot of a franchise, and what was given to us in this film surpassed my expectations.

I’ll get it out of the way first: while this is the third iteration of Spider-man on film I do feel it has a reason to exist (unlike the Amazing Spider-man). That being said, it doesn’t share any real similarities with the first two (beyond the titular character). Homecoming is very much in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and because of that it feels perfectly in place with the rest of the MCU. In fact, it even fills in some story gaps from before Captain America: Civil War and is the first entry to take place after the events of the dramatic fallout from that movie.

I also have a small confession to make. I'm not a huge Spider-man fan. So, without extensive comic book knowledge of the character (beyond some details about his history), I'm really down to looking at the one good version we have (I'm not going to get into the second reboot, since it was a bit of a mess and honestly there's no real comparison here). Honestly, I’m in the minority when it comes to my opinion of the Raimi Spider-man films. I didn't love them. I thought they were good, and I enjoyed them at the time, but looking back, they weren't amazing.

Sure, there was a level of emotional weight that worked in those films, and Spider-man 2 had a great villain, but there was a balance between drama and humor that I found a bit lacking. Spider-man: Homecoming is more of an action comedy with some drama (rather than an action drama with some campy comedy like Spider-man and Spider-man 2), but that's fine because while this new film didn’t really try for the same level of pathos that those other Spider-man films managed to create, it more than made up for it with snappy humor and wonderful characters.

Okay, so about those characters. Tom Holland is almost too perfect as both Spider-man and Peter Parker, showing the innocence and shy awkwardness needed for a much younger version of the character while also managing to be totally believable as a hero in both demeanor and physique. This Spider-man also fits perfectly into the MCU working exclusively with Tony Stark, who assumes a bit of a mentor role in the film.

Speaking of Tony Stark and Iron Man in particular, have no fear about him overshadowing the show. This is without a doubt a Spider-man film that just so happens to guest star Iron Man. Let me put in a different way: having Tony make appearances throughout the film gave it a sense of inclusion and interconnectedness that are the hallmarks of a comic-book universe. Of course, this Tony Stark would interact with this Peter Parker. It makes total sense in the narrative.

Of course, it wouldn’t matter if the villain were rubbish. Thankfully Michael Keaton has come back to the comic book work in a wonderful way as a character I actively disliked before this movie, The Vulture. I always considered The Vulture to be a kind of goofy idea (to be honest, a lot of the residents of Spidey’s rogues gallery are kinda silly) but here he is dialed in perfectly. He’s menacing, powerful and totally believable as a foil for Spider-man. Plus he has actual motivations and good reasons for his actions. He isn’t a ‘let's make a hole in the sky’ kind of villain, and that works for this more grounded superhero film.

So all the main characters work, that would probably be enough for any film to be successful. As icing on the cake we also got a bunch of solid secondary characters, both good guys and bad, that made the world created here feel fleshed out and lived in. Parker’s high school had a bunch of just normal kids being kids. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May was both a new twist on the character while still being a really great Aunt May. The Vulture’s lair had a bunch of henchmen that totally worked with the setup created for this villain, including a couple of more notable villains; The Shocker and The Tinkerer. Add to that the well written dialogue, tight plot structure and easter eggs, and I think I can safely say this is not only my favorite Spider-man film, it might be one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, too.

Bits:

There are so many little details in this film that tie into the MCU and Spider-man mythology. I couldn’t even begin to name them all.

Lately trailers spoil almost everything, from major plot points and twists to even the final battle. While almost every action scene had a moment taken from it for a trailer tease, most of the major plot points were a surprise, and I never had the feeling that I was waiting for that big moment from the trailer to happen.

There are two additional scenes after the final scene in the film. One after the animated credits, and one at the very end. The first one is important plotwise. The second… well it was worth it in the same way the Schwarma scene was in The Avengers.

Beyond a slightly more comedic tone than I was anticipating, and a small lack of built up emotional stakes, this was still a great introduction to what I hope is the final version of this character we’ll see on screen (for at least a couple of decades).

3 1/2 out of 4 Things not spoiled by the trailers.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

5 comments:

An Honest Fangirl said...

I went into this movie extremely hesitant, and completely prepared for RDJ to overshadow everything. I really shouldn't have worried. It was awesome, and a lot funnier than I was expecting it to be. I loved that Peter Parker actually felt like he was 15. He felt like a teenager who desperately wanted to be treated like an adult. I was initially upset at the decision to recast Andrew Garfield, but now I'm really happy that they did. Like you said, J.D., Tom Holland is almost too perfect as both sides of the character.

RDJ still had the best scene in the movie, though. At the end with Happy and Pepper? It was sickeningly sweet and adorable.

Josie Kafka said...

I really enjoyed this, more than I've enjoyed some of the recent Marvel movies. This new Spider-man (do I really have to use the hyphen?) is adorable, and the villain was wonderful.

Can we do spoilers in the comments? Because I have more to say.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Absolutely. In fact I'll draw a line right here.

Below this comment is spoiler territory... beware!

Josie Kafka said...

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I didn't expect a twist in a Marvel movie, so I was completely surprised at the twist about Vulture/Michael Keaton. But I thought it was really effective and humanized the character nicely.

Joshua Ash said...
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