Spiderman: Homecoming Movie Review
IMDB 8.0 – Rotten Tomatoes 93% – Metacritic 73 – Written by Jonathan Goldstein, Directed by Jon Watts.
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Zandaya, Donald Glover.
Since his appearance in Captain America: Civils War last year, the Marvel fandom has been waiting with bated breath for this Spiderman movie featuring the crushingly endearing Tom Holland. I must say, it’s getting tougher and tougher to get excited about super hero movies now that the formula has well and truly been cracked. The buzz around this movie fell on my somewhat cynical ears but when I did eventually give up and go to see it, I was pleasantly surprised. In this chapter of Marvel, a 15 year old Spiderman under the tutelage of Tony Stark spends his time outside of school dashing the efforts of small time criminals in Queens New York and dreaming of one day joining the Avengers. After he stumbles on a band of weapons dealers capitalising on the scrap alien technology left in the aftermath of the Avengers’ Battle for New York, Peter Parker uncovers The Vulture and his plot to steal weapons from The Avengers themselves.
The standout of course is the young and charismatic Tom Holland who brings a fascinating energy and childlike wonder to this role in a refreshing break from the burdened and severe portrayals of Peter Parker offered by Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield. Holland is funny, optimistic and brings this fresh surge of enthusiasm to Spiderman that breathes some much needed new life into the character that has fallen to the kerb in Marvel’s cinematic universe. Given that Holland himself is only 21, his ability to carry this movie, and all of is expectation, on his slight shoulders is striking.
Michael Keaton bundles into the Marvel Universe in this role of The Vulture, and it’s definitely in safe hands. He brings relatability to this villain; a working man turned bitter and desperate by trickle-down economics looking to provide for his family while taking shots at New York’s hierarchy, with The Avengers perched at the top. In a universe bereft of convincing villains, Keaton portrays the every-man turned bad well enough to keep my attention.
As just mentioned, Holland has done a lot of work towards reinventing Spiderman here, with the young and naïve take on the character reinventing Marvel’s most popular hero to keep him relevant as the MCU roles on towards its next phase, and its next generation of cinematic dominance. The heavily burdened and reluctant Spiderman of previous generations is nowhere to be seen here, at least not yet. With the pain of Uncle Ben’s death and the words of Parker’s departed uncle ever resounding in his ears – “With great power comes great responsibility” – Spiderman has always been a painful experience for Peter Parker, something that he is obliged to do because he is the only one with the power who can. I like Holland’s direction far more, he wants to be Spiderman and he wants to be an Avenger, because he wants to have fun and he wants to be cool. The same reason any of us want to be an Avenger! After all, Spiderman’s greatest appeal has always been that he too is an everyman. Not a Genius like Tony Stark, or a Demi-god like Thor; just a guy that got bitten by a spider.
In terms of how this fits into the wider universe, because you always need to consider that with Marvel films now, it’s clear to me that the studio is setting up Spiderman to take over the next generation of Avengers with what is presumably the imminent departure of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans. Perhaps as a result of the events of Infinity War? As such the over-arching thread of this story is how Stark is mentoring Parker to become an Avenger, walking him through the training notes. They approach the responsibility theme of Spiderman from a different angle here, Parker wants that responsibility, he wants to play the bigger game with the higher stakes and in the long run I predict we see a differently composed Avengers team with the likes of Spiderman, Dr Strange and Black Panther. On the down side, the presence of Stark throughout this movie entirely eliminates any threat and suspense. We know that if Spiderman can’t do it then The Avengers are there to step in. It makes this movie a character development and not an event in itself, which actually I thought made it a stronger showing. These movies don’t have to be event movies with cataclysmic events every time, they can be nuanced and explore different genres and styles, like the teen movie superhero vibe this film is.
All in, a refreshing surprise for a cynical thinker like me who appreciates more now that these films are capable of fulfilling the promise of sub-genres that can operate in tandem with the superhero one, but Marvel still has work to do to diversify its offering in this way to keep their movies nuanced and fresh. 3 Stars, but in consideration of the superhero genre alone, 4 Stars.