Written by: Mathew ‘JJ’ Simoes

I grew up with the Rami verse Spider-Man, so I had an incredible bias against the Marc Webb led reboot of the franchise.  So, when they announced a new Spider-Man, I became skeptical again, but Tom Holland amazed me in Civil War, and he amazed me again in this time around.  Spider-Man: Homecoming was the homecoming the character deserved, bringing Spider-Man back to his roots with a hilarious and heartfelt solo film.

One of the things that makes Spider-Man so relatable is that Peter has to juggle his various responsibilities, and that’s something that Homecoming heavily leans into.  In the film Peter juggles his school responsibilities with his over-whelming desire to be Spider-Man.  Every-time Peter decides to be Spider-Man there are consequences in his personal life, giving his decisions weight and making for great character drama.  The film’s portrayal of Peter Parker was perfect, and making him a young teen in high-school was brilliant.  Peter’s not only an inexperienced hero, but he’s an inexperienced person in general.  This makes for a good comedy and a great character arc for the MCU’s Peter Parker. Much like Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, Tom Holland embodies the role of Spider-Man. Holland plays the character as being inexperienced, but also brave and earnest in his role as a hero.  Holland handles both the comedic and dramatic scenes exceedingly well, and helps sell Peter’s character growth throughout the film with his performance.

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The film mentions friendly neighborhood Spider-Man more than once, but Homecoming really makes this seem true.  The film’s story never goes over the top, and Peter is clearly shown to be a part of Queens, grounding the character and his story.   This film isn’t about saving the world , or even all of New York.  It’s about people trying to prove themselves and be the the best that they can, for better or for worse.  Another grounded aspect of the film is that Spider-Man’s victory is not a clean one, as other people are hurt because of it, but I won’t go into detail to avoid heavy spoilers.  Adding to the film’s grounded nature is it’s treatment of superhero violence, as Peter is clearly disturbed by the amount of destruction caused after one of the film’s battles.  This film serves as very much a ground perspective of the ‘high-flying superheroes’, as the film even shows what younger teens think of the world they live in post-Iron Man.

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There were some great action sequences, with the ending sequence being particularly good.  However, the film’s best moments are the high-school scenes and Peter encountering minor difficulties on his journey to being a hero.  Seeing Peter struggle with class, girls and his lack of popularity is as much a part of his journey as defeating local super villains.  Homecoming is much more of a coming of age story and action adventure thrill ride, and it’s to the film’s advantage.   This film is about self-discovery, as Spider-Man learns who he is and reevaluates his goals accordingly.  This is best symbolized by Peter finishing the film in his home-made Spidey costume, rather than the one given to him by Tony Stark.

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The Vulture was a compelling villain, with Michael Keaton’s excellent performance and an interesting motivation.  Unlike most MCU villain, the Vulture manages to be a complex antagonist with a motivation that easily resonates and makes for a more sympathetic character.  Keaton, much like Spider-Man, is your average Joe who has more real concerns than some of the MCU’s more outlandish villains.  Keaton’s performance is fantastic, with him playing both the sinister villain and the overly concerned family man. Keaton’s best scene is towards the end of the film, and he chews up the scene by playing one of the most threatening MCU villain’s I’ve ever seen.  Part of threat comes from why he’s become the Vulture, as he’ll go to any length to protect the life he’s built for himself. Visually the Vulture looks fantastic, being both realistic and terrifying.  The close ups of the helmet’s green eyes were haunting at times, and the suit’s first appearance is certainly unnerving in some respects.  The one downside to the Vulture is the lack of screen time given to his character, but with what he’s given, Keaton does an incredible job.

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The supporting cast are give great performances and Tony Stark is an important part of Peter’s journey, but never takes the focus away from Spider-Man.  Ned Leeds’ was one of the film’s breakout characters, as he spends the film dealing with the knowledge that his friend is a superhero.  This was very real, and led to some great laughs.  Zendaya’s character, who has very little to do with the plot, has some of the film’s best lines and is a great source of comedy.   She’s mainly in their for laughs, but the film hints at a larger role in films to come.  Marisa Tomei’s portrayal of Aunt May was good, with her playing a much more modern version of the character.  Her relationship with Peter  is one of the most touching elements in the film, and the writers leaned heavily into a common criticism of the MCU’s incarnation of Aunt May and it makes for great laughs.  Even though there hasn’t been an Iron Man move for the last five years, Marvel still seems to develop Tony’s character.  In Homecoming, he takes on the role of a mentor to a young Peter Parker, really moving the character forward beyond his origins in the first Iron man film.  Peter serves as a way for Tony to learn from a lifetime of mistakes, by making sure someone else avoids them.  Even with this level of involvement in the plot, Tony never takes focus away from Peter, and it very much remains Spider-Man’s story.

 

A few more brief notes:

-The score for the film was amazing, as they created an excellent Spider-Man theme that is different from anything that came before it, yet also feels very natural for the character.

-One of the best superhero end credits scenes ever.  Inventive, unexpected and very enjoyable

-While this film does stand on it’s own, it cleverly uses previous MCU entries as a background to Peter’s journey.  This makes for interesting world building and some neat Easter eggs.

-The technologically advanced Spider-Man suit was awesome despite people’s initial concern about it, and it provided what may be my new favorite movie A.I.

 

This film was a welcome return for the Spider-Man franchise, and will make you even more excited for Infinity War when Peter Parker makes his return.

Mathew’s Score: 8.8/10

Nick’s Score: 8.8/10

Artur’s Score: 8.5/10

 

What did you think of Spider-Man’s return to the silver screen?  Leave a comment below!

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