Spider-Man is without a doubt one of pop culture’s most treasured and beloved icons, one that has graced almost every form of media through the course of 50 years since his introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 by Stan Lee. With this being the case, Spidey is no stranger to the big screen; in fact many fans would say he’s had too much of a relationship with it. Coming off the heels of director Sam Raimi’s loved “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2” (“Spider-Man 3” being not so much through the public’s eye), as well as the less than significant reboot attempt with “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its sequel, Jon Watt’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has a lot on its plate. With this incarnation of the character being introduced into Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Sony and Marvel have finally found a way to collaborate in generating “the official” Spider-Man for the modern Marvel universe, and it swings its way to the top.
“Homecoming,” being the first Spider-Man film imbedded into Marvel’s MCU and the 15th film it encompasses, does not make an effort to reintroduce Spider-Man as a character, as the last reboot did. In a very smart move, the filmmakers assume the audience knows of Spider-Man and his origin, and would much rather focus on the trials and tribulations of being a 15 years old boy living in Queens with extraordinary powers, as he comes to terms with them and with his self-worth as a “superhero”. “Homecoming” is truly inspired by the classic high school teen comedies of John Hughes. In those films the main focus is in how the characters (typically young teenagers or young adults) deal with situations that affect them directly, and this is very prevalent in “Homecoming,” as Peter Parker learns to handle being Spider-Man, but not the Spider-Man we’ve come to know in previous films: a Spider-Man who is borderline incompetent and ineffective in his attempts at being a ground level superhero. Peter Parker is not polished, he is essentially a child driving a car. In addition, Tony Stark (played for the eighth time by Robert Downey Jr.) serves as a mentor to the young and inexperienced Parker, trying to keep him in check. “Homecoming” keeps its story simple yet engaging, allowing its main players to command their characters and environment while also providing the action that Marvel have been known to excel at.
Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is what carries the film, as well as his relationships with other teenage high school kids. Being a younger, more inexperienced Spider-Man, Holland gives the character a child-like sense of wonderment and naivety that is both natural and exciting. He is able to bring something to the character that previous Spider-Men Tobey Maguire (who is still great) and Andrew Garfield couldn’t, and that is the effect of being a kid. His performance brings life to the comic version of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. In a surprise twist of fate for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is quite an engaging villain, a problem that Marvel has had in many of their previous films. With a motivation relative to sympathetic understanding, and a great performance by Keaton, The Vulture can proudly stand as one of Marvel’s best villains.
What’s most surprising is that with the third incarnation of the character, Marvel and Sony have succeeded in making Spider-Man fresh. With a stellar cast, creative and inspired choices in structure and narrative and a feeling of fun and light heartedness, “Homecoming” succeeds where some previous Spider-Man installments have failed. It truly captured the essence of its lead.
Photo courtesy of Comicbook.com