I loved Spidey’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War, but maybe ten minutes into Spider-Man: Homecoming, there is a montage where Peter Parker is doing his Spidey stuff around NY after school with Blitzkrieg Bop playing in the background, and it was at that moment, I finally felt like Spider-Man is truly home.
Sitting through origin stories can be a chore, and here Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal, writers Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, and director Jon Watts don’t let the audience relive that familiar tale. They drop us right in the middle of it and it’s relentless in proceeding the story from start to finish in a good way. It’s a long movie, but it’s fast paced and a joy to sit through. They do a great job juggling multiple story lines and it never felt jumbled or hard to follow.
The world ending trope is not evident in the film, its a more scaled down adventure, similar to Ant-Man. There are as many high-school/John Hughes scenes as there are with the action sequences. Easter eggs in the film are subtle and great fun, they’re not as distracting as one would expect them to be. Also, for the record I can watch Captain America PSA’s all day.
I said back in my Captain America: Civil War review that within ten minutes of screen time, Marvel Studios does exactly what Sony failed to do with their last three Spider-Man films. Tom Holland is terrific. He flourishes in this role and I can see that he gave it his all. His charisma oozes off screen and in the scenes where things get serious he’s able to show off his acting chops. He’s impatient, energetic, a bit naive and super young. I yearned for high school Spidey in films and finally we have continuing stories that take place in high school and an actor who looks the part, and doesn’t look old. Holland combines the best of both Maguire and Garfield, with a bit of Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly, resulting in what I think is the best film iteration of Peter Parker/Spider-Man to date.
So far in Phase 3, every Marvel villain felt like a step forward. While they didn’t solve their villain issues, they made small steps to fixing it with each Phase 3 film. Here they finally deliver. Of all villains The Vulture is easily one of the MCU’s best villains on film since maybe Loki and Winter Soldier. Michael Keaton delivers, and what makes his performance so great is that he plays it subtly. It’s not over the top, it’s muted, and more low-key. As someone who owned a business trying to clean up after the mess the Avengers leave all over the world, Damage Control and Tony Stark took over, leaving him nothing. He turns to the life of crime, picking up leftovers from any superhero battles, turning them into weapons to sell on the black market with his crew so he can get by living life and providing for his family. That is a motivation I can get by and understand.
He has great exchanges with Holland throughout. One of my favorite moments in the film is when and he tells him that he’s young and he just doesn’t understand how the world works. This got me thinking, if this were an older Peter Parker, he’d probably understand where he’s coming from and they would maybe be having a different conversation.
The supporting cast are terrific. I don’t really need to elaborate Downey Jr. at this point. He always brings it every time. Stark is used effectively and for those worried that he might overshadow Spidey, he really doesn’t. As shown in the trailers, Stark ridicules him for being ignorant during the ferry incident and it’s nice to see Tony Stark in a mentor role giving him only new things to do. Great to see Favreau back as Happy Hogan and he gets some good moments throughout.
Marisa Tomei is not the typical Aunt May we see in the comics or in the other Spider-Man films. She’s more involved and kind of a cooler, hip aunt. The film also has fun with the fact that she is a very attractive woman. Keaton’s crew in the film are also good, they don’t have huge roles, but they have something to do in the film. The film treats them as characters as opposed to disposable henchmen for the most part.
The kids in the film are also fun. Jacob Batalon is Ned, Peter’s best friend and they’re a hoot. The budding romance between Peter and Liz is also well done and not overplayed. Laura Harrier does a good job projecting a personality of a popular, but friendly and humble girl. Zendaya also scores some decent laughs as a rebel student similar of Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club. Tony Revolori is a different incarnation of Flash Thompson. Being a comic-book conservative, in truth I was let down by the fact that we wouldn’t get something similar of Chris Zylka’s Flash from the Andrew Garfield series, but after digesting everything Revolori was quite good and the new approach they took won me over.
Occasionally the film stumbles a tad, for instance Ned can get a little too annoying at times. Some of the cgi effects didn’t look as polished as I had hope, but it’s not distracting where I’d be taken out of the film. Tonally, having Peter Parker actually enjoy being Spider-Man brought a breath of fresh air. That in it of itself is the best thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s a colorful adventure that fits with the rest of the MCU without getting bogged down with franchising. He’s home and it’s good to have him home.