The webslinger returns to our screens in one of his best ever movies. Here’s our review of Spider-Man: Homecoming…
As the sixth solo Spider-Man movie in fifteen years, Marvel had their work cut out for them making Spider-Man: Homecoming a fresh, fun movie. Thankfully, they managed it with aplomb. As you probably know, many are calling it the greatest Spider-Man movie ever. While this reviewer doesn’t quite agree – I’m a Tobey Maguire guy through and through – it is definitely another top-draw slice of MCU entertainment.
Let’s just go in with the highlight of the movie: Tom Holland as Peter Parker. Holland is a gifted young performer who is incredibly likeable and totally embodies this youthful Spidey. What his version has over Maguire and Andrew Garfield is that we get to see him grow as a hero, in the sense of seeing him adjust to his powers. Previous Spideys were pretty much instantly in command of webbing through the city, whereas Holland’s Spidey is – more believably – hesitant, for instance, to leap off tall buildings.
Likewise, I have to say I was one of those fans worrying that having Spidey be mentored by Iron Man would weaken the character who, let’s face it, doesn’t need the Avengers to prop him up – he’s Spider-Man, one of the greatest superheroes ever invented! Thankfully, though, the question of whether Peter can be a hero on his own terms is exactly the point of the movie and Spidey-lovers likely won’t be disappointed by the conclusion of this arc.
Another major plus for the movie is its depiction of Queens and its diverse inhabitants. For one, it’s refreshing to have Spidey swinging around a suburban area. While this means we don’t get any iconic, awe-inspiring glides through the New York skyline it does mean that, for the first time, Peter Parker genuinely is a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
As for Holland’s young co-stars, they are all terrific. My favourites are Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Peter’s tech support/comic relief best pal who knows his secret, and Zendaya’s Michelle. She’s such a fun character that she still makes an impression, even when she appears in the film far less than the marketing had led us to believe. I’m looking forward to her coming to the fore in the sequel.
But this movie doesn’t just belong to the kids, as the adult actors are excellent as well. Despite the controversy surrounding her age and, er, hotness, Marisa Tomei is a brilliant Aunt May, more of a big sister to Peter than the elderly grandmother-type we are used to. Like Zendaya, Robert Downey Jr.’s presence isn’t actually as heavy as trailers suggested, and it turns out he is in it just enough to give us our Tony Stark fix but without him stealing the movie away from Peter. As he arguably did with Steve Rogers in Captain America: Civil War.
Special plaudits, though, have to go to Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Ironically for a guy with mechanical wings, he is brilliantly down-to-earth and relatable and his motivations are always clear. He’s not quite up there with Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus or Willem Dafoe’s wonderfully wacky Green Goblin, but he is likely the third best Spider-Man movie villain. With Zemo and Ego both having been fleshed out to some degree, it does seem as if Marvel are working on curbing their weak villain problem.
Something else I also enjoyed were the several amazing hints and teases for future movies – a few of which are guaranteed to blow the tops off of comic book nerds. Whether these are just easter eggs or a promise that we will see these characters/situations at some point we don’t know, but the nods to them are still very welcome. Highlight for spoilers: the references to Miles Morales has to be the best one.
Still, as great as it was, there were still some gripes to be had. One thing the Spider-Man movies have always been good at is romance, with Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst and Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone having brilliant chemistry. Unfortunately, Peter’s romance with Liz Allan here is easily the weakest Spidey movie love story. Also, personally, I’m not sure I can get behind the idea to erase Uncle Ben from continuity so completely, as there is no mention of him in the movie whatsoever. Ben’s death is as important to Spidey as the murder of Mr and Mrs Wayne is to Batman (“Martha!”). No, I don’t think they should have devoted a lot of screentime to it, but it needs to be talked about.
Overall, though, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a hugely entertaining – it’s got some fantastic comedy throughout, by the way – yarn (or should that be web?). With a terrific cast, a plot that doesn’t feel overstuffed or undercooked and a wonderful young lead, Spider-Man really has come home. Let’s hope he stays for a while.
Final thought: It’s not an issue with the film itself, but I will say that the impact of a couple of moments was lessened thanks to the overly spoilery trailers. That said, there genuinely were a couple of moments that blew me away. Knowing a few things in advance that I wish I didn’t far from ruined the film for me, but it did leave me grumbling.