If you’ve been a listener to our podcast Super Powered Fancast, then you would know by now that I was cautiously optimistic about the latest adventure of Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man.
I was one of the cacophony of voices that was unimpressed by any of the details about the movie other than the cast and I was also skeptical that they could make me either care to see Spider-Man in another solo film or find anyway to thrill me with the action and special effects.
I’m happy to say that I was wrong on both counts. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun movie from start to finish.
The movie opens with the aftermath of the Battle of New York and Adrian Toomes, played with maniacal brilliance by Michael Keaton, is working cleanup with his crew. When bureaucracy ruins his business, which he’s leveraged most of his money on, he decides to seek revenge and work under the radar of the authorities and the Avengers. This leads to the introduction of Damage Control, which I thought was brilliant.
What works about Keaton’s portrayal is pretty much everything. His motives are laid out pretty early on and he doesn’t mince words about what he’s doing and why. He has no interest in taking over the world. He doesn’t even want anyone to know that his Vulture persona exists. This is what makes him one of the better villains in the MCU. Keaton’s performance is both menacing and subtle. You know he’s the bad guy, but he is still eminently likeable and you can understand the forces that drove him to crime.
We’re re-introduced to Peter Parker and his actions during Captain America: Civil War through Peter’s making of a short film. It is fun to see the unabashed joy Peter has at both the opportunity that he’s been given, but at being a hero. That’s one of the things that had been missing from a lot of the previous Spider-Man films. The youthful exuberance that anyone would have if they were not only given super powers, but allowed to hang out with their heroes as well. That’s one of the themes that is used throughout the film. Peter’s need to prove himself as a hero is one of the things that is keeping him distracted in school and missing the things around him.
Tom Holland is amazing as Peter Parker. There isn’t the facade of earnestness that many older actors who play teenagers tend to put on. Peter is a normal kid and that comes through Holland’s performance. I also like the fact that Peter is still learning how to be a hero and there are moments where you not only root for him as a hero, but feel for him as a kid (There is a scene towards the end of the movie that is an homage to a classic Jack Kirby panel that made me well up a little.). Holland is able to make both the moments as Spider-Man work, but Peter as well.
Jacob Batalon is great as Ned Leeds, Peter’s best friend. His discovery of Peter’s secret identity leads to some of the best comedic moments in the film. He has the reaction any of us would have in that situation and their banter is very funny.
Anyone who was worried about the presence of Tony Stark in the film would take away from Spider-Man, you can stop worrying. Even with the inclusion of Robert Downey Jr.’s Stark in the film, there is no denying that this is a Spider-Man movie. He’s in the movie enough to make the moments between Stark and Peter make sense, but his presence is not overbearing, which is one of the plot points of the movie. After the events of Civil War, Peter is trying desperately to prove that he can be an Avenger and is constantly ignored by both Tony Stark and his handler Happy Hogan (John Favreau).
There are so many nods to the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sprinkled throughout the story that connects this film to the rest of the shared universe. I enjoyed the fact that Vulture and his crew were trading in parts and weapons scavenged from the aftermath of superhero battles and the mentions of incidents like the Triskelion from Winter Soldier work for me.
The action sequences were also brilliant. This was the one thing that I worried about going in. I’ve seen so many different iterations of Spider-Man action sequences that it was hard for me to believe that they could excite me, but they managed to on more than one occasion. While I enjoyed the sequence on the Staten Island Ferry, it didn’t impress me as much as the one on one battles between Spider-Man and Vulture as well as the sequence that closes out the film involving a plane carrying Avengers gear departing from Avengers Tower. That entire sequence was well done and actually had me on the edge of my seat at times.
The supporting cast was great as well. I enjoyed the performances from Zendaya as Michelle, Bokeem Woodbine as Shocker and especially Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. The final scene in the film between she and Peter made me laugh so hard, I couldn’t stop.
Overall, Spider-Man: Homecoming is what Spider-Man films should have been. The action worked, the effects were great, but the film had heart. You cared about the characters in it. The ability to allow the audience to care about the characters helped to add to the tension certain moments needed. It’s a fun movie that isn’t trying to be anything more than that. Knowing that this film doesn’t have to be the driver of an entire universe allowed it to be fun and have a heart. I would definitely recommend going to see it.
Post Credit Scenes: One mid-credit scene and one post credit scene with a twist.
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