(Photo via Sony/Marvel)
I was a little hesitant to see the new Spider-Man film for about a month. Other than going on vacation and working, I was a bit hesitant because a third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise seemed a little desperate and pathetic by Sony, a studio where this is their only profitable film franchise. But I was made a little more curious by the film in that it’s a co-production between Sony and Marvel Studios, therefore Spider-Man is finally apart of the cinematic universe where Iron Man and the Avengers live and breath. Seeing Spider-Man in that world for even a brief moment in Captain America: Civil War was pretty exciting, and a standalone Spider-Man film in that universe had a lot of potential. It took me about a month to see the film, but I was really impressed with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Everything from the style, the cast, the set-pieces, and the film itself really seemed to click. This is a fun little summer blockbuster, and if you haven’t seen this one yet I recommend giving it a look before the end of the summer.
The film smartly ditches the origin story and jumps into Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) life after the events of last year’s Captain America: Civil War. When he’s not trying to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker is a 15-year-old living with his Aunt May (Marissa Tomei) in Queens and going to high school. When a disgruntled construction worker turned super villain (Michael Keaton) gets his hands on technology that allows him to become the Vulture, Spider-Man has to sneak around Stark and co. in order to defeat the Vulture and prove himself to Stark to become an Avenger in his own right.
The film was directed by Jon Watts, who last directed the critically acclaimed indie Cop Car and a little bit of television before this. While the directors in these Marvel films don’t have as much say on the film as the Marvel producers do, there’s a solid collaborative feeling with this film. While it’s still a solid little summer blockbuster, it also serves as a John Hughes-esque coming of age tale, with the high school homecoming dance serving as a plot device and background to the film’s story giving it some authenticity. While Parker is a superhero with superhuman abilities, the reason this character has resonated with so many for years is that he’s just a kid, like a lot of us once were. And Holland’s terrific portrayal of Parker in the film helps give that character that authenticity of being a kid still trying to juggle the stress of grade school and everything else in life, and he gives the best on-screen portrayal of the webslinger yet.
The cast in this film is massive, with well-known actors playing bit roles here and there. Keaton is solid as the villain, Tomei is great as always as Aunt May, Downey Jr. doesn’t really need to be noted as he’s always great in that role, and so on. Newcomer Laura Harrier plays Parker’s love interest Liz in the film, and Zendaya plays Michelle, another woman in Parker’s life who’s on his Academic Decathalon team. The two of them are really good in their respected roles, with Harrier as the popular but nice girl, and Zendaya as the awkward but brilliant girl on the decathalon team. We also get some fun bit performances from actors ranging from Hannibal Buress, Martin Starr, Donald Glover, Jon Favreau as Stark’s assistant Happy Hogan, and so on. There’s a lot of really funny and talented people in this film, and their supporting performances helped elevate the film’s quality. The diversity of characters in Parker’s life might’ve honestly been one of my favorite parts of this film.
There’s a lot of really admirable things about Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s a solid summer blockbuster with some imaginative setpieces, but the film has an emphasis on character and story, which I liked. And unlike the last two Spider-Man films, the characters in this film are interesting, well-thought out, and not eyeroll inducing. It’s not a perfect summer film, but it’s about as good of a time in terms of a big summer film that you’ll see this summer (if it’s still playing in your area). I look forward to seeing more of Holland’s portrayal of the webslinger in future Marvel/Spider-Man films, and Watts behind the camera of those said film. They finally got Spider-Man right, and as a longtime fan of the character, I couldn’t be happier.