Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming
I may sound like I scarfed down a whole bushel of Member Berries, but remember when things were shiny and new with comic book movies? When we were seeing that no-name Australian dude play a way too tall (but damn good looking) Wolverine? When there was only one Sabertooth we had to consider? Or when Blade was saying “some motherfucker always tries to ice skate uphill” as vampires raved out in blood showers? There was so much hope and wonderment of the great possibilities comic book movies had back then.
And for the most part, I’d say that any film made under the Marvel Entertainment umbrella has held up their end of the bargain as far as keeping things consistent goes. Continuity is big with the nerds (take it from me), and Disney has shown they are nebbish when it comes to making their multi-million dollar universe make sense. What they have suffered from is formulaic storylines and super over saturation. Throw out the first two Thors (Ragnarok looks good), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd’s great, but c’mon), Hulk (the 2003 one with Nick Nolte’s mutant dogs), Avengers 2, Man Of Steel, and anything with a Ben Affleck Batman and you may not have jaded me worse than late 90s Aerosmith.
Perhaps the biggest culprit of over saturation (maybe of any movie franchise ever) is Spider-Man. The Tobey McGuire version of the hero was endearing enough for the character’s true believers until the stomach-turning Spider-Man 3 where he donned a “My Chemical Romance” persona and took on Eric Foreman post Wisconsin & Donna Pinciotti.
Those however, along with the two Andrew Garfield ones (Paul Giamatti as a track suit wearing Rhino? Nah, I’m good), appeared to send Peter Parker the way of the Billy Zane Phantom dodo, but then Marvel struck a deal with Sony giving Disney the freedom to use the web-slinger in their much more structured world of superheroes.
That still didn’t sell me totally. Spider-Man has been through the Hollywood ringer faster than any character and even this acquisition just looked to be kicking an extremely dead cash cow of any loose change, and how much coinage can that rotting bovine still have left to poof out of it’s dried up udders? (Probably one freaky-ass visual I just painted for ya, eh?)
The answer was to bury Bessie and bring in a whole new cow. That cow was a Peter Parker who is still a high schooler with no origin story baggage and because of that, along with a complete rethinking of some classic Spidey characters (Marisa Tomei as a smoking hot Aunt May), even despite following the patented Marvel movie formula, Spider-Man: Homecoming spins webs with the best of them.
Back in 2002 (holy shit 15 years ago), I was the same age as McGuire’s Parker, so seeing him swing around New York City with ease and a pep in his step filled awkward, nonathletic, uncoordinated me with a whole bunch of optimism for not only what the future of these movies held, but for what my own future held ("with great power, comes great responsibility" - that being going to college and not pissing opportunities away). Fast forward to 2017 and here I am with a college degree and not working in the field I was aiming for, ready to watch a Spider-Man who logistically I could be a father to, but one constant variable? That optimism, man.
Tom Holland is extremely spot on as Peter Parker 3.0. He’s wrapped up in everything kids (and most adults) are into these days from a technology standpoint. His smartphone is almost as much a part of his alter ego as his web shooters are, but in a non annoying “I hate kids and they are now much dumber than we are” kind of way. The moments the flick does involve such things is humorously (and shamefully) relatable to most movie goers.
Parker still has that superhero mentality intact though, putting others before himself and that’s even if it gets in the way of wooing the ladies and building his high school street cred. “Penis” Parker is a tough nickname to shake, but the impressive nuances and quirks that Holland brings to both personas of Spider-Man makes this version the funnest to root for.
What the movie does best though is put you right in Parker’s world of high school angst as somebody who’s just trying to make due of being a teenager, but also being the weird kid who obsessively goes out moonlighting to fight crime in the most inexperienced and naive ways possible. You mix that up with the always on-point Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man who kinda/sorta takes the mantle of father figure and you’ve got a fresh new duo that you wanna see save the world at least a couple more times.
Then there’s our boy, Michael Keaton, who we all know can wear a hero’s cape, but shows he is equally as convincing on the seedier side of town as Adrian Toombs aka: The Vulture. Like most of Spider-Man’s hall of hoodlums, the Vulture harbors a solid amount of empathy in some regards (90% in thanks to Keaton’s acting chops), but the character is ultimately not brought to his fullest potential of impact with rationed screen time and not enough character development. Keaton and Holland do walk away with one of the greatest protagonist/antagonist scenes in all of comic book movie lore, so there is that.
Marvel, however, can’t seem to walk off the stink that many of their blockbuster movies carry with them and that’s the head shaking amount of structural damage that these poor superhero infested cities have to go through. The movie is clever to address the matter right off the bat with a solid plot point, but then they have Spider-Man get in his own way by putting innocents and historic landmarks in peril when it’s absolutely not necessary, making him seem much more trouble than he is worth.
All things considered, Spider-Man: Homecoming absolutely brings you what’s best about the comic book movie genre that I honestly didn’t think was still there: hope. I loved the first two Spider-Mans, but this one gave Marvel’s biggest comic icon a rejuvenated swing that’ll make even some it’s most bitter fans’ Spidey senses tingle.
WHAT'S COOL ABOUT IT:
- Amazing cast (Holland, RDJ, Keaton, many supporting stars in hit shows making appearances)
- High school Spidey along with high school vibe
- Clever and funny in the right moments
WHAT'S NOT COOL ABOUT IT:
- Follows your typical comic book movie song and dance that we're all familiar with
- Still lots of counter-productive structural damage all at the hands of our Marvel heroes
Overall Score: 8.6 out of 10