Movie Review | Spider-Man: Homecoming
Movie Summary: Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City. (IMDb)
And so the world’s most popular superhero comes home and Marvel Studios instantly give us one of the better solo debut films a character has had so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s right, this is a solo film as Tony Stark/Iron Man is only in the film for about ten minutes.
Shock horror, the marketing focused on a character that has been the cornerstone on which the MCU was built. While Stark’s presence is felt throughout the film, with Peter latching onto him as father figure, it’s entirely deserved and thematically fitting.
But enough about the Armoured Avenger, this is the single best Spider-Man film yet by some distance. This is the first big screen incarnation where being Spidey looks like fun. The first two Sam Raimi films are still great (for their time), but the fact that Peter seems miserable in both his civilian and costumed lives does get a bit tiresome.
Tom Holland’s Peter still suffers from the usual Parker luck, plus he’s still a relative novice at crime-fighting and so gets his arse kicked on a pretty regular basis, but he’s still incredibly enthusiastic and earnest about his superhero lifestyle.
It also helps that Spidey actually looks, sounds and behaves like a teenager – no more guys in their late-twenties/early thirties playing well below their age. Not only does this allow for more humour with Spidey’s inexperience and naivety, but also allows for more tension.
Not to spoil anything, but there is a scene late on that mirrors a situation that has become famous from the comic books over the years. However, with such a young hero, it’s genuinely unnerving to hear Spidey screaming for help while on the verge of tears.
This vulnerability helps set him aside from even the likes of Black Widow or Hawkeye, who are both highly-trained agents with decades of experience between them. Spider-Man is just your friendly, neighbourhood superhero, not a saver of worlds - yet.
Holland is ably supported by a fantastic, diverse cast of young actors for fellow students who also look and sound the right age for their parts. At times, the film really does resemble a teen comedy more than a superhero film and is all the better for it.
Special mention has to go to Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend, Ned. He gets some of the funniest lines in the film and has incredible chemistry with Holland – it’s no stretch to imagine the pair of them as best friends and they work so well together.
Then there’s Michael Keaton, playing another kind of Birdman as the Vulture, albeit updated with a fantastic new look for the MCU. The blank, emotionless look of his flight suit is chilling enough, but Keaton is just as cold outside of it, with one scene between him and Peter late on ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels with every line.
There are a few let-downs though, with the CGI double often used for Spider-Man just tipping into the uncanny valley a little too often. Yes, he’s going to move in a way that a normal human can’t, but that doesn’t make it any better – your brain just knows that you’re looking at a visual effect and not someone in a Spider-Man costume.
Another issue is the problem of turning Spider-Man into Iron Man-lite with an AI and all kinds of fancy gimmicks built into his suit. Yes, it helps give Peter someone to talk to and generate some humour when on his own as the movie can't use thought bubbles like the comics, but it’d be good if it could be scaled back just a little bit next time.
Laura Harrier’s Liz also suffers from being little more than a love interest, without much depth to her character, although it may be a little demanding to expect all of the characters introduced here to receive the same level of development in a single film.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun film with some genuine laugh out loud moments, some fantastic characters, an incredible lead performance from Tom Holland and just an all-round likeable atmosphere – but it never really becomes something truly outstanding. Like the title character, the potential is there but it's not been realised just yet.