Film Review: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

Tom Holland swings back into action to grapple with great power

and great responsibility… 

Spoiler-free review 

Starring:  Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalan, Laura Harrier

Directed by:  Jon Watts / Written by:  Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers / 133 minutes

What’s it about?

Having fought alongside the Avengers as Spider-Man, Peter Parker yearns to be the indispensable hero but finds he has much to learn when the appearance of the villainous Vulture threatens to destroy all that he loves…

In review

After making an impressive debut in Captain: America Civil War, Tom Holland returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as high school student Peter Parker – aka Marvel’s much-loved wall-crawling web-head, Spider-Man.  The sixth solo big screen outing for the character, Spider-Man: Homecoming benefits greatly from the co-production deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios with its connections to the wider Marvel screen universe more of an embellishment than a hindrance.

Whilst it fails to match the heights of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, Homecoming is a fun, witty and heartfelt comic book adventure, wearing its high school teen comedy and coming of age story elements with pride and exuberance.  In this respect, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a more youthful affair in the vein of John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, focusing on its characters first and foremost, offset by the (generally) more street-level heroics of Peter Parker’s friendly neighbourhood alter-ego rather than being a slave to it.

Tom Holland once again tackles the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man with enthusiasm and glee, with the wit, intelligence and vulnerability that reminds us of the appeals and relatability of the character – the well-intentioned, nerdy underdog with everyday problems that everyone loves to root for.  In an age where to be a geek is somewhat cooler than in the 1960s, Homecoming treats Parker as less of an outsider and has a more balanced approach to its laudably diverse, multicultural cast of characters with some contemporary twists on familiar faces.  As the object of Peter’s affections, Liz (Laura Harrier) is more of a peer than the totally out-of-reach popular ‘cool’ girl but there’s still a good dose of angst as Peter tries to balance his school life and the callings of a superhero.

This being a Spider-Man film, there’s a natural wealth of humour (largely facilitated by Peter’s best friend, Ned – played wonderfully by Jacob Batalan) that, like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man fits neatly into the world of Peter Parker and never feels out of place or forced in at the wrong moment (Doctor Strange, ahem).  There are also numerous references and connections to the MCU (including the return of Tony Stark’s cantankerous driver, ‘Happy’ Hogan – with Iron Man/Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau reprising his role) but are all slotted in tidily without burdening the story – this is still very much Spider-Man’s film.

As the central villain, Michael Keaton brings experience and gravitas to the role of Adrian Toomes/Vulture and despite having less screen time than it would initially seem he is well-served by some decent writing which paints a more interesting antagonist with identifiable motivations.  Far less a mere marketing gimmick, Robert Downey Jr’s part as Tony Stark/Iron Man feels integral to the narrative as he plays an important role as a father/mentor figure, there to guide Peter’s course and help him correct the errors of his ways – Stan Lee’s classic moral principal concerning great power and great responsibility a driving theme throughout.  It’s the support from Stark and Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) that help keep our struggling hero centred and inspired to do better and be greater.

Although Spider-Man: Homecoming is mostly concerned with its characters, and the high school focused portions do tend to drag out the pace at times, there’s still plenty of popcorn action and spectacle to be had.  Despite the bulk of the action being bound to the streets of New York, there are a few larger set-pieces with ferry rescue and endangered aircraft sequences amongst the highlights.  It’s all staged competently by director Jon Watts and though lacking a little of the overall heft and excitement of the previous efforts by Sam Raimi and Marc Webb, it delivers enough to keep the audience engaged and thrilled.

Whilst the coming of age story and teenage relationship scenarios might be more appealing to a younger demographic, more seasoned Spider-Man fans will appreciate that this is where Peter Parker’s story begins, the formative experiences of his earlier years an important part of the character’s makeup and just like in the comics we can only look forward to seeing the character learn and grow into adulthood…the amazing and spectacular Spider-Man is here to stay and it’ll be exciting to share his cinematic journey in the years to come.

The bottom line:  A highly enjoyable romp, Spider-Man: Homecoming sets the iconic web-slinger on course for greater adventures to come as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is in cinemas now.

Spidey Homecoming

Does whatever a spider can: Tom Holland stars in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ from Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios.

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15 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

  1. Ahhhhh! I’m so glad it delivered. I was worried that it would be too teen-drama-ish or that his comedy sidekick would be too annoying, but it all turned out really well. Even though it was such a different version of Spider-Man, it still felt so right in spirit.

    • Agreed, because cinematic Spidey has had two iterations already it was only right that something different was done to freshen things up, which they achieved whilst – as you say – remaining true to the spirit of the comics.

  2. Great review for a great review! It looks like third time is the charm when it comes to getting Spider-Man right. Of course, it’s not perfect, for example the early Spider-Man had to make do without a high tech suit to get out of scrapes, but it’s a relief that the MCU now has him. Now if only Fox would let go of the FF (the X-Men and their family being unlikely to ever join the MCU).

  3. Well, well, no surprise that I agree with you on this film. An excellent reboot, it was! Got to admit that it was a relief how the comedy just perfectly fit with the character both on screen, while staying to the character’s personality from the comics/animated show. You know… I sometimes wish Spider-Man was actually a Netflix series or just a TV series. There’s just SOO much they could do with the character and only having him on the big screen feels like restraint. However, I can’t complain.. It’s such a nice sight to see Spidy up there among Marvel’s big dogs. Definitely looking forward to seeing his contribution in Infinity War. Great review, as always!

    • Thanks Lashaan! I’ve had similar thoughts about a Netflix Spider-Man myself, maybe they could do Spider-Man 2099 as that’s a darker, more adult iteration…would work well as an anime series even (have you seen the X-Men one?).

      • Would be pretty cool to have Spider-Man 2099 as an anime series indeed. An X-Men anime? I’ve never heard about it. 😮 The only X-Men show I’ve watched as a kid is The Animated Series (#classic) hahah

      • Yeah, Marvel commissioned a number of anime limited series (12 episodes each) a few years ago – Iron Man, Blade, X-Men and Wolverine. I’ve seen all of the Iron Man series which is flawed but enjoyable and only watched the first episode of the X-Men one and it’s rather promising. They’re all available to purchase digitally via iTunes/Amazon. Worth a look if you like the idea of a mesh of Marvel and Anime.

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