Check out our review for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ in theaters on Friday…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Make no mistake, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is an origin story.
Now before your eyes start popping out of your head after hearing for months that the newest Spider-Man adaptation with Marvel Studios handling the webslinger on film for the first time wouldn’t include the infamous radioactive spider biting Peter Parker or Uncle Ben’s tragic death, you haven’t been mislead.
Thankfully, Marvel and Sony teaming up together didn’t result in yet another 45 minutes explaining how Peter Parker actually became Spider-Man, but the newest film does manage to show the friendly neighborhood hero as he learns how to crawl before walking in a coming of age movie that feels just as much like a teen pop drama — think ‘The Breakfast Club’ or ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ — combined with the fun and comical yet sometimes serious tones that have made up the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s a breath of fresh air after Sony has made far more mistakes than triumphs with Spider-Man over the past two decades. For every ‘Spider-Man 2’ — which featured by far the best villain in the original trilogy of films with Alfred Molina portraying Dr. Octopus — there were several examples of abysmal storytelling and execution like the forgettable ‘Spider-Man 3’ or ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’.
Following an email leak that ended with several heads rolling at Sony, the studio finally decided to team up with Marvel to bring Spider-Man home again and the result was truly the best film that’s ever been done with the character not to mention integrating him with the larger cinematic universe where he’ll be teaming up with Iron Man as much as he’ll one day go up against the Sinister Six.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ was a title with numerous meanings based on the high school theme in the film not to mention the webslinger finally returning to the Marvel fold but the best word to describe this movie was the one that has always preceded the name.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is absolutely amazing.
With that said, let’s get into our review for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’…
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ actually starts eight years ago with the aftermath of the alien attack on New York City that brought together the Avengers for the first time. A salvage crew led by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) has been hired to clean up and take out the leftover alien wreckage from the citywide battle with Earth’s saviors.
Unfortunately, Toomes’ crew is soon kicked off the job by a new government agency founded by Tony Stark to collect the alien technology rather than handing it out to independent contractors. This leaves Toomes in a precarious position after shelling out a ton of money for this project but with options limited and nowhere left to turn, he decides to take an unconventional route to make ends meet. Toombs and his crew discover that this alien technology can be harnessed and transformed into powerful weapons that criminals all over the world would pay a hefty price to own.
As for Spider-Man’s first appearance — it’s a flashback to his first team-up with Iron Man during ‘Captain America: Civil War’ before he returns home to New York with a new suit courtesy of Tony Stark and a set of very specific instructions. Tony wants Peter to stay close to the ground by helping the little guys that might need a hero’s intervention rather than tackling the super villains that typically oppose the Avengers. Tony wants Peter to grow into his heroic role rather than jumping feet first into trouble.
Of course, 15-year old Peter wants nothing more than to play with the big kids and his desire to do more than stop bike thieves and shoplifters puts him directly in the destructive path of a group of weapons dealers led by the dangerous Vulture.
There aren’t words enough to describe how perfect the casting in this movie is from top to bottom.
Starting with Tom Holland, who is by far the best on screen Spider-Man that’s ever put on that red and blue suit. The 21-year old Brit truly encompasses the bright-eyed naivety of Peter Parker, who is trying to adjust to life as a superhero while also taking high school classes and dealing with teenage problems like getting up the nerve to ask the pretty girl to go to the dance with him. Unlike predecessors Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who attempted to portray a teenage version of Spider-Man while looking far too old to play that role, Holland really does seem like a kid going through the growing pains of high school.
Now if there’s been one problem with many of the Marvel movies it’s been a lackluster villain to oppose the well-crafted hero. Tom Hiddleston has been the best thus far while portraying the vile yet somehow lovable Loki but many of the other villains have been largely forgettable over the years.
Thankfully, Michael Keaton stepped up to the plate to portray Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture for this film because he not only plays a convincing bad guy but his story is such that he’s not some cartoonish villain twisting a mustache while holding the damsel hostage. Instead, Keaton plays a man who becomes the victim of his own circumstance, who eventually breaks bad based on necessity rather than some unyielding thirst for power.
As for the supporting characters, Marisa Tomei is good in everything she does but she really does dazzle as Aunt May while Jacob Batalon is the breakout comedic star playing Peter’s best friend Ned.
And of course, Robert Downey Jr. is always great as Tony Stark as he attempts to mentor Peter while Jon Favreau anchors the cast as his sidekick, Happy Hogan.
There are also several familiar faces from shows such as ‘Silicon Valley’, ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ decorated throughout the film as well as a great cameo from Donald Glover, who offers some well timed advice to the clearly adolescent Spider-Man.
Directing and Writing
There were six screenwriters on ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, which makes it appear that the script for this film was a mess but whoever had final say on the film definitely pieced together a perfect movie in the end. The movie spends as much time with Peter in high school as it does with him wearing the suit so you really do get a sense of what it’s like being a teenager with superpowers.
Director Jon Watts wasn’t a splashy name attached to lead this film, but everything he did with ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ was pitch perfect. The action scenes are thrilling but not overproduced with too much CGI and the story was smaller in stature without the typical bad guy trying to take over the world type of plot.
Instead, Watts toned down the grandness of Spider-Man and the end result was a much better story with far more character development than any previous iteration of the character.
What’s Wrong with the Movie?
This is the section where I’m supposed to point out some minor flaw in the film but honestly there’s not much to quibble with when it comes to ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’. It’s such a nice change of pace to see the hero going up against a villain who isn’t dead set on some tyrannical goal of world domination. Actually while Spider-Man has gone up against all sorts of villains in the history of the comic books, the best stories have always been a little more grounded in personal grudges rather than plots that expand to a global threat.
The only tough part about ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ being released in 2017 is the incredible company the film will share with some other outstanding efforts this year including ‘Logan’ as well as ‘Wonder Woman’. When it’s all said and done, 2017 may turn out to be the best year yet for the comic book film industry.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ really is as good as advertised. The story is relatable while also connected to the larger Marvel film universe without delving into the upcoming crossover film, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. Tom Holland shines as Peter Parker and Spider-Man because just like Clark Kent is separate from Superman, these really are two different yet still unique roles in the same character. The movie is uplifting and funny while also telling a poignant teenage story from start to finish.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ gets five out of five on the Skolnick Scale.