Last week, we finally got to see one of the most anticipated movies of the year: Spider-Man: Homecoming. After a brilliant debut of the Tom Holland Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, every Marvel fan was on board with yet another iteration of a thwipping Peter Parker. With expectations stacked as high as my tower of unwashed clothes – did it deliver?
The movie was directed by John Watts and runs for over 2 hours but it did not feel like it. I never thought it was going too long and not once did I look at my watch. Part of why it felt shorter was the very smart decision to forget about the typical origin story because we have seen that more than enough times. Tom Holland aka Peter Parker has had his powers for 6 months, he helped Tony Stark with the whole Civil War situation, got a super-rad suit and now is stranded back in his somewhat simple and boring life, waiting for big adventures.
The British actor Tom Holland perfectly captures the naive but sweet impatience for epic fights and changing-the-world kind of scenarios. People have said it many times: Tobey Maguire was a good Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield was a good Spider-Man. Tom Holland is both? To be fair, I have only seen half of The Amazing Spider-Man and never dared to watch the sequel, so my comparison focusses on Sam Raimi’s Spidey vs. the MCU’s. While Tobey will always be number one in my heart, this new Peter Parker blew me away. At last I understood the comic book fans and their longing for a better and most importantly more accurate portrayal of the friendly neighborhood spider.
When Stan Lee first created Spider-Man in the 60s, it was a shot in the dark and Lee was well aware he could lose his job (he wanted to quit anyway). Thankfully, the all-or-nothing investment paid off and what many believed to be impossible, happened. Peter Parker was a superhero AND a teenager with very human flaws. Besides being incredibly iconic (I mean, who doesn’t know Spider-Man?), his revolutionary past is what gives him the status of beloved and treasured hero of the hearts. Thus, it is very important to hit the marks of naivité, excitement, insecurity and not-so-humble ambitions a teenager often experiences. On the other hand, this is a teenager who was given amazing powers so undoubtedly, he’s gonna have fun with it. Balancing these two sides is what nurtured controversial opinions about past portrayals. However, Tom Holland has been buried by the hype around his performance.
At last, the actor is age-appropriate to play a kid in high school. And he captures it brillianty. My favorite moments where him fanboying over Tony Stark and the Avengers. Who wouldn’t freak out if they suddenly where in on all the action, all the iconic heroes on top of it? Relatable. That’s what’s most important about Peter Parker. I could not only relate to Peter in this movie, I felt like I knew exactly what he was going through. Admittedly, the entire high school set-up was rather stereotypical and old-school but not so much as to disrupt the story.
A point I will raise here, though, is the extremely stereotypical character of Liz. There really wasn’t much to her and did anyone see a character development? If anything, I felt like she deserved to be stood-up by Pete on prom night since she only began speaking to him after hearing that he is friends with Spider-Man. So, now he’s cool enough for you? This is just a minor point but to me it felt like they didn’t know how to make the relationship between Spider-Man and Vulture more meaningful. Let’s talk about that twist, shall we?
Michael Keaton aka Vulture is Liz’s father! Oh my, what a surprise. Not really*. Now hush, I don’t want to trash that scene because eerie Michael in the car was breathtakingly menacing. I did see it coming, though. And that also explains the forced love story with Liz. Now, it’s not just a matter of them both being everyman kinda guys who have to fight for what’s right while the rich hover over them, doing what they want. Now it’s become personal. And that’s why I will let one-dimensional Liz pass. Vulture was simply amazing. His introduction in the beginning was the exact right balance of showing enough to understand his intentions while still keeping the mystery of his true motivations.
*If you’re wondering what made me predict his fatherhood: him constantly talking about his family but never mentioning details, Liz’s unidentitified rich parents (huge house!) and telling Ned and Peter that they would kill her if she broke something, basic plot development
Let’s tackle some of the other side-characters. Zendaya played Mary Jane or MJ with a fresh and original take on her. Cynical, brutally honest, unimpressed and sarcastic. I thought she was really cool but towards the end also kind of repetitive and predictable. But whatever the future holds for her, I’m on board. Ned was the typical sweetheart and the perfect sidekick for Peter. Jacob Batalon did a good job actingwise and the “I’m here watching pornos” scene was hilarious. Tony Revolori was the worst one of the bunch. He wasn’t funny, a one-liner pun idiot and so boring. The weird thing was whenever he picked on Peter, it didn’t feel like he was popular or anyone actually supported his evil-ish actions. Sure, he got giggles and such but he just felt pointless. This role seemed like a complete waste of Tony.
Speaking of: Tyne Daly, Donald Glover, and Hannibal Buress were all wasted. This leads to the argument of Marvel setting up so many things for the future which will only pay off down the road. Does that diminish what happens in the present? My definite answer is yes. Lazily stuffing in half-assed characters just so 3 movies later they can come back, is not good filmmaking. And I understand people who enjoy the easter egg quality of it. Not revealing too much but dropping subtle hints for readers of the comic books. As an audience member who only watches the movies, it seems pointless. For example, I had no idea Donald Glover was supposed to be Aaron Davis, Miles Morales’ uncle.
Stay with me here, I have to talk about 2 more individuals before giving my final verdict. Aunt May was terrible. I’m sorry, Marisa Tomei, but you just sucked. At this point, I will insert a disclaimer: I watched the movie in German. That is the only reason I will give her another chance. In this version though, she was not funny or sweet and I didn’t buy for a split-second that she was Peter’s aunt and that they had any kind of intimate connection. Similarly, I couldn’t really buy into the Tony Stark as mentor situation. To me, Iron Man is long past the point of solely being the smart-ass sarcastic asshole. Which is what he was in this movie. The only somewhat emotional scene was him taking away the suit from Peter but I wasn’t invested because it felt forced. My solution would’ve been to have less of him in the movie. *GASP* Don’t tell RDJ!
However, something good came from the Stark involvement: the suit. If your comiclover heart didn’t scream out in joy when Spider-Man used all the gadgets and different web-shooting configurations, I don’t know what you’re doing here. To be honest, at one point I thought it was too much but web-granates, tazer webs and the support wheels mode were just too entertaining to dislike it. The technology in general was super rad: the alien thing that opens walls, Vulture’s suit, Karen, Tony’s suits, self-driving cars and planes. *Nerdgasm* Nonetheless, Spider-Man’s DIY outfit is probably the best.
My favorite moments: Peter fanboying, him interacting with Ned, montage of Spider-Man helping the neighborhood (including being asked for directions), the scene where he flies and crashes through fences after Liz’s house party. The best one though was him being trapped under the rubble and having the strength to transform from a crying boy into the heroic and powerful Spider-Man. This felt like a major throwback to Tobey and I freaking loved it. And who would I be if I didn’t mention Captain America’s instruction videos. Absolutely incredible.
All in all, the movie was extremely entertaining, funny and heartwarming. The story was simple but good and Michael Keaton as the villain balanced the light-heartedness with just the right amount of scary stares. Writing and comedic timing were expertly crafted and the jokes hit 98% of the time. Score and soundtrack were great and the credit animation was well done. The post-credit scenes were worth waiting for, especially the very last one.
Spider-Man: Homecoming – believe the hype! It is worthy of all the excitement and praise and I can’t wait to watch it again.