Spider-Man: Homecoming sees a literal homecoming for the titular character. After five films of varying quality, Spider-Man is back where he belongs, fighting bad guys in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It just feels right, and a triumph long in the making. The character is finally receiving the on-screen justice he so deserves, and for comic book fans or comic book movie fans, it’s something you’re not going to want to miss. We’ve seen Peter Parker fly through New York City before, and we’ve seen him take down a plethora of super villains, but we haven’t seen this side of Peter Parker. This is a new him, and quite possibly the best incarnation of the character yet.
Peter’s got a whole lot of typical teenage issues to deal with, and he’s forced to balance it out with crime fighting and homework. It’s a dynamic that’s handled extremely well, evening out the humour with genuine teen angst. Nobody really knows what’s happening with Peter, and he’s struggling to get through both of his lives. Complications are furthered when a flying super villain comes into the scene. He goes by the name of Vulture, and is played by the sinister, yet understanding Michael Keaton. While we’ve seen the Green Goblin appear on screen a number of times, it’s our first on-screen incarnation of the Vulture, and he makes for one of the MCU’s greatest villains to date. They’re a company known for their lackluster villain problems, but having already established the origins of Spider-Man in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, it allows for a lot of development of Vulture, and every scene he’s in works to perfection.
That’s what makes the conflict with the Vulture all the more entertaining. Other than the events of Civil War, Spider-Man hasn’t faced anything major before. He’s gone from hanging with the Avengers to having dinner with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), who’s funnier and livelier than ever. Her younger age has become a meme online, and the filmmakers get it. They know she’s lacking her signature grey hair and wrinkles, and plenty of humour stems from that early on in the first act. Her relation with Peter is key to the story, and helps with the intertwining of the film’s several plot lines. Homecoming deals with a lot, much like Peter himself. The story leaps from high school to parties to street-level action, but they can’t exist without the other. It’s all connected to paint a bigger picture, and while the stories themselves are separate entities, the intertwining made for some of my favourite moments in the film.
There’s a scene between Michael Keaton’s Vulture and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man that’s easily the finest, most well executed scene from this movie. Everything from the lighting to the music cues to the tense performances makes it a standout scene for good reason. It’s a dramatic beat in an otherwise fun-loving movie, and it sets the stage for the thrilling, unexpected and high wire third act finale that proves to the world just how amazing Spider-Man, as a character, can be. He doesn’t see the world in a clear image of good and bad. He sees the good in everyone, and his optimistic ways make for a final confrontation that’s got the big set piece we’ve come to expect in superhero movies, but also the heart and the warmth we get in high school movies.
That’s not to say this film isn’t without flaws, however. The use of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) concerned many moviegoers, as, based on the trailers, it seemed as though he was going to have a more prominent role in the story than Spider-Man. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Jon Favreau’s Happy actually gets more screen time than Downey Jr. does. This is without a doubt Peter’s story from beginning to end, but the use of Iron Man, while necessary for Peter’s arc and aspirations towards becoming an Avenger, does come with problems. He’s a bit of a convenience. Peter finds himself in a few situations that are a little bit too tricky for our young hero, and when the odds are stacked against him, Iron Man miraculously arrives thanks to a tracker planted in Spider-Man’s suit.
And that brings me to the supporting cast. They are, for the most part, all excellent. In fact, not a single performance managed to fall flat. It’s a wide and diverse cast, full of talented comedians and upcoming actors getting a chance to prove themselves in a big budgeted, highly seen movie. A lot of them are going to be given plenty of new work after displaying their talent here. This is also Disney Channel star Zendaya’s first feature film. I have nothing against the performance she gives, it suits the character, but it’s the character that has issues. I liked her until I stopped liking her. Once that happened, during a scene you’ll know once you see the movie, my opinion on what came before took a complete 180 turn around.
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