Spider-Man: Homecoming

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review: A Warm Welcome Back

'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

Movie Rating:

4

After five financially successful films, Sony decided to reboot the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise for the second time, giving us our third cinematic web-slinger in the new standalone film, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’. Having enjoyed each of the previous movies (despite their faults) and currently suffering a maddening bout of Marvel fatigue, ‘Homecoming’ was an excellent surprise. It’s the Spider-Man movie I didn’t know I needed.

When Marvel first kicked off its cinematic universe, I bought right into it and was on board through Phase One. With the exception of the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, I’ve since become frustrated with the formula found in each new picture. The movies are still fun, but the overall filmmaking quality has dipped – until now. I don’t know how the creative power works between this Sony/Marvel partnership, but whatever they’ve done here, they need to keep it up.

‘Homecoming’ kicks off with a great introductory scene that quickly and playfully ties it into the MCU. The heavily-written screenplay (which features no less than six writers) brings us all the way back to end of Phase One. We meet our villain-to-be, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton), a contractor assigned to clean up the alien scrap and rubble following the Battle of New York. After investing heavily in this major clean-up effort, he loses everything when a new Stark-led department comes in, takes over the project and seizes all of the valuable alien technology that’s scattered about. Sneaking out with enough alien tech to be dangerous, our villain finds his feud with the government and Stark, as well as an opportunity for a new business.

It’s refreshing to find a new bad guy in a Marvel movie who’s not only well fleshed-out, but delivers a menacing threat. With alien power supplies, he creates a winged supersuit of his own and an arsenal of wildly powerful weapons that he sells on the black market. Running his business off the grid, no one even knows that this threat exists… until now.

Having seen two different Spider-Man beginnings on-screen, ‘Homecoming’ doesn’t even pretend to give him another origin story. Peter Parker already has his powers. We already know what he can do. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ gave him all the introduction he needed.

As we saw in ‘Civil War’, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) gave Parker (Tom Holland) his first big-boy outfit. If you thought the suit’s eyes were the only technologically-enhanced part of the suit, then you’ve underestimated Stark’s style. After the Vulture intro to ‘Homecoming’, we learn that Stark gave an upgraded suit to Peter following ‘Civil War’. While awaiting his next Avengers mission, Peter takes his overqualified new suit and uses it to become a neighborhood Spider-Man. When he stumbles into one of Vulture’s black market weapons deals, he finds a nemesis worth foiling, but also falls into the sights of the merciless and ruthless villain.

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ does a great job of establishing characters that you can relate to – even the bad guy. This hasn’t happened in a Marvel movie since the first ‘Thor’ introduced us to Loki. With this foundation, the ante is upped. Thus far, there hasn’t been much of a threat to our MCU heroes. One character has died, only to resurrect for a television role (Agent Coulson). One side character was killed off (Quicksilver), but we didn’t care about him since Fox’s ‘X-Men’ version was a hundred times better. And one may have lost the use of his legs (Rhodie), but thanks to magic technology, he’ll be just fine. ‘Homecoming’ brings some real danger to the game. Mid-scene, one particular moment is so heavy and intense that I found myself thinking there’s no way anything this dark and terrifying would have made it into a Disney-distributed Marvel movie.

Don’t mistake this as me saying that ‘Spider-Man’ is a dark film. I’m just saying that it kicks everything up a notch from the Disney/Marvel norm – and it’s fantastic.

Sony’s marketing campaign has two major problems: First, there’s too much of it. It’s as if the studio isn’t aware of the critic-proof and fan-driven brand that Disney and Marvel have created with the MCU. Not only is the bloated campaign everywhere, but it’s showing too much. Second, the misleading spots have made it appear as if Tony Stark is major player in the story. He’s not. Not even close. The ads make the movie out to be an unofficial ‘Iron Man 4’ buddy picture. I went into the screening leery because of that, only to be surprised by how little screen time Stark receives.

I loved both Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. They each brought something unique and likeable to the role. I didn’t want to see a feature-length reboot starring the rambling and obnoxious Spider-Man from ‘Civil War’. However, after seeing ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, I’ve changed my tune. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is excellent. Like Maguire and Garfield, he brings his own uniqueness to the role. His quippy and charming character just might be the only Disney/Marvel element found within ‘Homecoming’. The story and filmmaking is a nice improvement from the redundant formula of the other MCU titles. Featuring a balance of everything needed in an entertaining movie, it’s one of the MCU’s very best entries so far.

I didn’t want another iteration of ‘Spider-Man’, but now that we have one, I’m happy we do.

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17 comments

  1. Ooh, good poll options. I, for one, loved ‘Turn Off The Dark’ 🙂 Very curious about ‘Homecoming’. Nowadays, most Marvel movies are released in Europe first (sometimes two weeks ahead of the domestic American release), but for one reason or the other, we have to wait until 21 July.

  2. Ryan

    I will probably see it in a week or so. I thought he kind of sucked in Civil War, myself…so it’s good to hear that you didn’t like him either.

  3. Boston007

    Can’t wait to see this. FINALLY a Spiderman movie that portrays Spiderman like he is in the comics.

  4. William Henley

    I chose “I’ll wait for the Blu-Ray”. I am sick of studios rebooting series every time we cast a new actor in the main role. We know the origin story already, and the origin stories are usually the most boring of the movies in the franchises. Give me something new.

    At least the Lego Batman movie made fun of all the previous installments.

    I am at the point where I am just flat out refusing to go see reboots at the theater. Even if the reboot is significantly better – how many times do we have to see Peter Parker get bitten by a radioactive spider and his uncle killed, how many times does Batman need to see his parents killed, how many times do we need to see Krypton destroyed? We know the story. Yes, we know the older movies were not as good as what you can make now. Carry on with the story. I want to see new villians, not the exact same story rehashed with a few changes to make it modern with better special effects.

    Sorry if I am being all sour grapes. I am sure the movie is great, but this is the third time the series has been rebooted in 15 years. I got a stack of unopened Blu-Rays. Why should I go see Spiderman’s origin story yet again?

    • This would have been a much better point if Spider-Man: Homecoming was an origin story. It isn’t. It picks up after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Sure, it’s still the early days of Spider-Man, and Peter’s not very good at webslinging, but there’s no mention of Ben whatsoever.

    • This is not an “origin” story in the traditional sense. In fact, Uncle Ben isn’t even mentioned in the entire film. The closest we get is Peter saying that Aunt May “has been through a lot.”

      • William Henley

        Maybe, but from the trailers, me and many others perceived it as a reboot and another origin story. Whether the perception is justified or not is kind of moot (I should have stated that it was perception, but whatever). The point is, I am burned out on franchises getting rebooted, and am reluctant to even give it a chance. Even if its good, in the back of my mind, I am thinking “In another 5 years, it will just get rebooted again”.

        Spiderman was never my favorite hero anyways. I liked Toby McGuire, mainly as I like the character he seems to play in all of his roles – the dreamy-eyed slightly disconnected-from-reality guy. And I like Kirsten Dunst. I gave the next reboot a chance, and it was okay, but even then, I was burned out on reboots.

        Despite the fact that there are some changes, it is still pretty much the same story again. And the formula that many of these movies has started to follow was something fresh when it started, but now, 15 or so years into these comic book movies, the only thing I can say is that I have gotten viewer fatigue. I actually haven’t bought any comic book / superhero movies in about 5 years, except for Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool, because those were refreshing new takes and offered something different. I enjoyed Captain America – don’t own any. Really enjoyed X-Men, but didn’t buy any. Enjoyed Batman Begins and bought the movie, but didn’t care for the two sequels.

        It’s not that the movies are bad, I am just tired of reboots and movies made to a formula, and it is to where I don’t even want to give them a chance anymore.

          • William Henley

            I couldn’t stand how The Joker was portrayed. Way too dark and not enough comedy. Also I did not care for Heath Ledger’s performance. I truthfully feel the movie is way overrated due to his death at that time, and I feel that if people were not watching the movie with that in mind, they would not think the movie was as great as they remembered.

            It was my least favorite of the Nolanverse Batmans

          • Fair enough. I think Heath Ledger’s Joker is amazing, the best comic book villain ever portrayed. It’s film school. Just watch his performance, and become a better actor 🙂

            Not dissing your opinion, of course 🙂 You have the right to dislike the movie/performance.

          • William Henley

            It probably was not Ledger’s performance as it was the way the villian was portrayed. I can see what they were going for, but that was not The Joker to me. At least in the Batman universe, I feel that part of the draw is the disconnect from reality. So the reason I dislike it is exactly the same reason that so many people like it.

            However, I still think the it is overrated as a movie, even if you do like Ledger and his version of the Joker. Batman Begins is my favorite Batman movie, but I like Batman Forever more than I like TDK. I don’t HATE TDK, it is just at the very bottom of my list for Batman movies

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