I didn’t want to like Spider-Man: Homecoming. Walking into the theatre I caught myself judging a product based on prior experience with the franchise. But then I thought, what franchise? Sure Homecoming carries the Spiderman name and lineage, but this isn’t another Rami entry, or a half-baked marketing ploy (looking at you Amazing 2) this was something new.
And while “something new,” has been thrown around a lot with the various Spider-Man movies dating back to the 2001 original, I decided to leave my reservations at the door. Which as it turns out, is a good thing, because Spiderman: Homecoming is far better than I thought it would be.
Director Jon Watts (of Cop Car fame) and crew gave me a film I never knew I wanted. Something more akin to an 80s high school comedy than straight up superhero movie. Homecoming is funny, with quick dialogue that doesn’t feel flashy or facetious, and features characters that feel real albeit extremely fucking smart for 15 year olds.
Homecoming’s biggest strength and its hardest obstacle to overcome is it’s sense of scale. There are no floating countries on the brink of extinction, or cool blue beams of stupidity blasting into the sky. It’s Peter Parker as he is, a high school kid figuring it all out and helping his neighbourhood in the process.
This smaller scale could have come off as campy or underwhelming, which it does a few times, but thanks to the performance of Tom Holland, Michael Keaton as Vulture and my personal favourite Jacob Batalon as his best friend Ned, the film fully grasps what it is and runs with it.
Also the addition of Zendaya as the spunky Michelle, who teases Parker at every turn, steals every scene she’s in. I definitely have a feeling she’s going to play a bigger role in the next Spidey movie. Especially given one throw away line towards the end, which if i’m right sets her up as a major character moving forward.
Also, also, Marisa Tomei as aunt Mae was a fantastic casting choice. She's both funny and heartfelt, and the only mention of the dreaded goddam trodden ground that is Uncle Ben's death, is mentioned only in passing near the beginning.
Now, about Vulture. Marvel historically, has had a terrible time with villains. As in, they’ve all been terrible. They even managed to turn Mads Mikkelsen into an ethereal menace with shitty eye shadow. I know certain critics aren’t on board with Vulture as a villain and I can understand why. The character on paper is rote and a tad one dimensional. But in the hands of Keaton (who really has a thing for winged companions) rote and one dimensional brings forth a badass with a family. He’s blue-collar through and through and only becomes a villain due to a system that put him out of work. In Homecoming, Vulture is a villain I could actually empathize with. I mean, we’re talking about Beetlejuice here. Keaton takes a seemingly one note bad guy and makes it his own. Vulture is very much my favourite Marvel baddy to date.
Finally, there’s Holland. I don’t think he beats out Tobey Maguire for best Spider-Man, but he’s certainly better than Andrew Garfield. Maguire managed to combine the physicality of Spiderman with the innocence and childlike wonder that comes with having superpowers. And while Holland is certainly hilarious and has the personality of Spidey down to a tee, there were certain moments involving feats of physical strength and combat that I just didn’t buy. At least not yet.
But that’s the thing, I don’t think Spider-Man needed to be beating the shit out of dudes in Homecoming. I think Holland will get to a place where he can sell the action wholeheartedly, but I think that will also be connected to a storytelling reason to do so.
If you’re like me and want a change of pace with your superhero movies, I definitely think Spider-Man: Homecoming is worth your time and money. It’s funny, smart and fast-paced all while portraying high school in a fashion not seen often in film. Also Robert Downey Jr. is in the movie for all of five minutes and didn’t overstay his welcome, so there’s that.
Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s everywhere by now, so you have no reason not to see it in theatres.