Quick Take: Homecoming (re)introduces Peter Parker, with a cast as diverse as the city Spidey calls home, and revolves around a young man who’s equal parts too smart of his own good and seriously not ready for grown-up responsibility. It’s a smart move that makes massive amounts of source material available going forward and made for an action packed, emotion-driven story that audiences can follow and characters you can get behind. By choosing not to do yet another traditional origin story, Homecoming avoids the pitfalls of many reboots and instead puts a new but recognizable incarnation front-and-center for fans.
In a move that makes sense to anyone who believes script cohesion is a good thing, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a witty, lighthearted (re)introduction to our friendly, neighborhood superhero that’s grounded, gritty, tongue-in-cheek and telling a great action-packed story that makes sense from beginning to end.
I know in the land of comic book and superhero movies, and certainly in the MCU, cross-over story coherence isn’t always imperative for viewing enjoyment. But being able to follow a story arc and let yourself be fully immersed in the action and story as it unfolds is the best gift turning comics into film can give an audience. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming does just that. Peter Parker/Spider- man orients this superhero in the MCU without sacrificing what makes this comic book character work so well or covering over old ground in an attempt to give him an origin story movie. Homecoming doesn’t capitalize on the well known “he got bit by a spider” material or have some of the expected look, feel, or recognizable moments from the original Raimi trilogy but it’s exactly the vibe and direction needed for Spider-man to thrive – and keep its individuality – as part of the MCU.
Homecoming acknowledges Spider-Man’s participation in face-off between the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War using those moments to highlight both Peter’s young age and enthusiasm with humor and a touch of the realistic frustration every kid who wants more action than the adults are interested in granting. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is his mentor but he’s like the absentee father who doesn’t have the first clue who their kid is outside of their own assumptions. He doesn’t explain himself, he doesn’t involved himself, and worse, it seems like he can’t be bothered to listen. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is quite possibly the absolute worst point of contact for an upbeat, optimistic high school student with super powers ever in life. It makes for some hilarious and frustrating moments despite the two not sharing much screen time.
Parker’s high school experience is everything you need to properly trigger a high school flashback and make you very grateful if you’re not returning at the end of summer vacation. But his crew has the makings of greatness:
- Clear-eyed, dry-witted Michelle played with spot on deadpan flair by Zendaya is the seemingly disaffected yet hyper-intelligent girl we could be,
- Geek-extraordinaire Ned played by Jacob Batalon is Peter’s best friend and the last person to tell a secret to – unless you’re trying to see how much steam can come out of his ears as he tries to keep it together – is just the right touch of comic relief and smart sidekick needed to offset Peter’s nonchalant nerdiness.
- Obnoxious too rich not to be a prick Flash, played by Tony Revolori so believably you just want to smack his smug smirking face and
- Fair-of-face and wicked smart Liz played by Laura Harrier is exactly the type of girl you believe is likely to leave a boy dumbstruck.
Not a single person hits a sour note in casting or falls out of character in a way to undermine the story. They each create avenues to understand Peter, his place in the social hierarchy, draw realistic comparisons between him and the other student’s his age and illustrate how his secret identity impacted his life in very real ways; as well as the cost of Tony Starks’ hands off approach to being a mentor.
I walked out of Spider-Man: Homecoming relieved. Not that Tom Holland made a fantastic Peter Parker/Spider-Man – he did. Not that the story made sense in the MCU – it does. Not that Michael Keaton brought real dimension and ominous intent to being Spider-Man’s nemesis Vulture and thus catapulting him into my top ten favorite villains (it soooo did).
I was surprised because, from beginning to end, Spider-Man: Homecoming carved out a place for real cinematic storytelling without sacrificing what brings readers and fans back to the comics over and over again, built characters that feel real, relevant but still suitable for a splash page all without forgetting to be funny.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5