What does it take to be a hero? It’s a question many of all walks of life may have asked themselves. Does it take brain or brawn? Must you be skilled or novice? And where does your moral compass lie? You can have the physic, the talent, the power, but does that make you a hero? Have you proven to stand up to that mantel?
Spider-Man: Homecoming asks this question, and brings us the most grounded, personal and authentic adventure of Peter Parker cinema has ever seen.
Notice I said Peter Parker there. That’s because this is certainly a movie about Peter, not just Spider-Man. From the recap of his adventure on the German airport to crime fighting on the Queens streets, Homecoming is journey of Parker’s first stint in this brand new world. The world where he is Spider-Man.
Rather than being yet another origin story of the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man (every man and his dog knows the tale of radioactive spiders and Uncle Ben), the introductory idea is shifted a new angle; what happens when you bestow this kind of power onto a 15 year old? We have all grew up watching these movies, reading comic books and day dreaming of being alongside our favourite heros, but now this has happened to young Parker. He is a superhero.
The new direction and dynamic of a new, young hero in a world already with them is a fresh approach and gives us something really fun, engrossing and new. As a huge Marvel fan, this is most relatable Spidey has been on screen, proclaiming his excitement and hunger to do more with his power. All the while trying to survive high school and the frustrations that come with it.
None of this would have worked even half as well if it wasn’t for the performance of Tom Holland. Former actors who donned the red spandex before may have their fans, but this is my Spider-Man now. Still a fresh face to Hollywood, baby-faced Holland has the look, voice and mannerisms we have longed for from our teenage hero. There wasn’t a second I was not completely absorbed into this world when the hijinks of high school ensured or as he attempt to get to grips with his new supersuit. This felt like an actual, dorky teenager driving the narrative and playing in a universe far bigger than himself.
You can’t discuss Spider-Man: Homecoming without mentioning this is – finally – Spider-Man’s true and proper introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Riding on the coatails of last year’s Civil War, Marvel and Sony really hit home that this movie is now a part of the same world as the Thor, Captain America and Hulk. Super fans of the MCU like me are going to have a field day with all the references and subtle nods tucked away here and there, but none of them feel forced. These easter eggs are organic to the story and setting and in some cases further enhance the plot and, indeed, the rest of the universe as a whole. We’ve come a long way since Amazing Spider-Man 2 tried to shove the Sinister Six down our throats.
The biggest of these MCU additions is easily Iron Man himself, Tony
Stank Stark. From the promotional material, posters and all advertising tied, you may be expecting this to be half a Spidey movie and half The Iron Man Show. Despite what you may have been led to believe Stark is used sparingly and very, very well here in a mentor role only appearing when it fits and is called for. RDJ once again proves he is Iron Man and really helps show how far the billionaire has came since he escaped a Ten Rings cave in 2008. Casual fans will definitely appreciate the appearance of the Avenger big-boy, but those who have been along his whole journey is going to love this new chapter of the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.
All performances were solid I must admit, with the likes of Jacob Batalon’s and Zendaya’s characters taking the brunt of the comic relief. Michael Keaton’s role as the title’s villain really stood out for me however giving us a Vulture that’s believable, threatening and – like much of Homecoming – aware of the universe’s surroundings and boundaries. Marvel has quite infamously had a track record of having lackluster villains in their movies but I would honestly say this is one of the more interesting ones we’ve had and dare I say, the best Spider-Man villain performance yet?
This movie only became possible thanks to the deal created by Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a contract that gives MS the majority of creative control and placing Spidey truly into the MCU. It’s a deal that benefits both companies as Sony reap the box office rewards while Marvel have the merch and stature of such an iconic character now rubbing shoulders with Hulk and Groot. If Homecoming is anything to go by this deal is off to a fantastic start and both studios were able to gel really well in getting a version of the movie they were both happy with. That being said a few disputing cracks I think are apparent here and there, the main being a big continuity error. It will fly over the heads of most but personally, it left me cringing and scratching my fanboy head – desperately attempting to find reason to it.
Sony’s marketing for the movie too has been nothing but messy and very trigger-happy when it comes to set pieces. It’s very unfortunate that if you were to follow all of the trailers and promotional material – content which is meant to generate hype and excitement – you can learn a lot of the secrets and directions Spider-Man: Homecoming takes you. This is a huge shame as some of the twists and turns the plot takes hit that much harder if you’re going to the movie blind. Learn from Lucasfilm and their marketing of The Force Awakens in future, Sony. Sometimes less is more.
It’s taken us a long time, but finally we have a Spider-Man movie we can definitively call fantastic. Many will argue we already had this in 2004’s Spider-Man 2, and while it is a very good film, Homecoming hits its targets better, harder and with more authenticity Raimi and Maguire ever could. Spidey has always been a huge name in the comic book and Marvel world so it is a dream come true to see him introduced now into the MCU. If the broader story isn’t your thing you’re still going to have a lot of fun and be able to appreciate this as a standalone, ‘coming of age’ story of a superhero.
I made this call last year when Benedict Cumberbatch surpassed my expectations with Doctor Strange, but Spider-Man’s Homecoming swings past as the best opening MCU standalone since Iron Man.