Normally, I would give an introduction of the main character and their origin, but Spider-Man: Homecoming already dispenses with that. After the regurgitation of Spider-Man’s origin story, by both the Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maquire iteration, Homecoming is more about the training of a hero than its creation. Throw away any expectations of a spider bite, or a half tear jerking Uncle Ben death scene. This Spider-Man creates a slightly new course.
The first scene of the film is, the villain, Vulture (Michael Keaton). However, he’s not a villain quite yet. He begins as a regular-Joe who gets screwed over by Tony Stark. If there is one bit of retread in Homecoming, it’s the fact that new villains in MCU always seem to emerge because of Tony. As if Tony is the only person who’s been destroying lives. I’m looking at you Hulk. But the creation of Vulture is a 1 versus the 99% cauldron, which interestingly, rarely reoccurs throughout the film. Nevertheless, Keaton is fantastic. Stick a pair of wings on him, or a stripped suit, or a rubber suit, or a clipboard (Bet you didn’t think you’d get The Paper reference today) and he’ll give you his best performance, or agitated mouth movements with heavy breathing. Basically, those moments where he begins to look like your drunk uncle who’s entered the confused confidence stage of his alcoholism.
Homecoming’s three greatest assets are its comedy, teen angst, and science. The comedy in Homecoming is superb, probably the best since Avengers. Zendaya, who plays Michelle, provides some of the best one-liners as the “I don’t care, but I care” teenager who is secretly, but not so secretly, pining for Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Donald Glover as your local thief who’s just looking for a simple gun to rob people is also a highlight in the film, though he only appears in two scenes. While Tony, surprisingly, is third billing in the comedy department. Instead, assuming the mantle of mentor to the rising superhero.
This mentorship leads to much of the teen angst. Sure, there’s the story line of Peter being in love with Liz, Laura Harrier. But that mostly fizzles, as predictably, Peter does everything to screw himself over in their relationship. He may be a superhero, but like most in MCU, he sucks with women. Most of the angst is provided by the need of teenagers to prove themselves, to be seen as better than what adults perceive them to be. To not have that one Linkin’ Park album they bought eight years ago held against them….I’ll save that story for another review. It’s experience versus naivete. That is the driving action of Homecoming.
This action is often represented, not through fight scenes (which are solid in this film), but science. One of the many issues with the Garfield and Maquire iteration is their reliance on the viewer believing that Peter is a nerd because they say it in the script. Those films do far more telling than showing. Here, there are an abundance of scenes where we do see that Peter is an utter geek. The fact that’s he’s putting together a Lego model of the death star, cross promotion at its finest for Disney, is far more nerdcore than the previous iterations ever showed their hero.
But mostly, it makes it obvious why Tony chose Peter, and does well to make a Captain America connection too (who appears throughout the film in often painfully funny high school mentoring videos). That is, two “ordinary” kids who have been picked upon by bullies, have the correct character to become superheros. And as Spider-Man continually falls in-and-out of danger trying to take on bad guys that he’s over matched against or the trials of being a teenager, there’s a reassurance that in the end, the character of this hero will persevere. The audience is given the same faith in Peter, as Tony has.
Like many before it, you can always count on the first film in MCU to be good. Spider-Man: Homecoming continues that trend. It has all the perfected Disney ingredients, comedy, action, internal conflict, and personal growth. Where Disney greatly succeeds, is their learning from previous iterations and changing course. I cannot express how relieved I was when they didn’t go over the complete backstory of Peter. I was relieved that they made nods to the Spider-man cannon, but those nods did not diminish nor attempt to prop up a flamed out story (many of these references I didn’t go over because of spoilers).
If you’re a massive Spider-man fan, then this version should meet all your expectations and exceed in some spots. If you’re not, then I don’t know, go cry on Bucky’s shoulder? If it’s good enough for Captain, then……
**Also, there are two post credit scenes, so definitely stay through the end of the credits.**
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