2002. B-Movie horror crowd-pleaser Sam Raimi brings the iconic friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the big screen.
2012. Following two Raimi Spider-Man sequels—one to great acclaim and one ill-fated—Sony revamps their comic book property with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man.
2015. It becomes public knowledge that Sony and Marvel Studios reached an agreement to bring the red spandex, arachnid-based superhero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Now, 15 years after his first big screen appearance, Spider-Man (Tom Holland, in this instance) makes his seventh appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming—the tongue-in-cheek title referencing this triumphant return to Marvel.
Holland’s Peter Parker is already established in his role as Spidey and “intern” for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) at Stark Industries. We as an audience need not see the radioactive spider bite origin for a third time.
Instead, the film jumps right into the origin of our one-off villain Vulture aka Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a blue collar worker tasked with cleaning up the messy aftermath of The Avengers until Stark Industries steps in to take over.
This opening illustrating Toomes’ motivations is perhaps the weakest scene in the entire film. Toomes and his coworkers are described by Toomes himself as hard working Americans who are just trying to get by and provide for their families. But, given that this is the case, the immediate shift that sends Toomes and his henchmen into a life of violence and crime is immediately jarring.
Toomes as a villain, in this light, is rather weak. The reasoning behind what he does makes sense until it comes to him being more of a sociopath than a man trying to get by in an elitist capitalist society.
Luckily, Keaton’s dry, sinister delivery makes it easy to look past the character flaw. And the third act twist involving his character makes for the best scene in the entire film: a tense conversation in a car that feels like it is coming out of a much less light-hearted movie.
In a Marvel Cinematic Universe most scrutinized for its lack of quality villains, Vulture falls in a weird gray area. The character is just as empty as a Malekith or an Ultron. But, like with James Spader’s icy voice-acting of Ultron, the entirely pleasing performance of Keaton makes Vulture (just slightly) a cut above.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is, largely, an entertaining and lively entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Holland’s Spider-Man has a blind enthusiasm to the job that feels fresh and fun, and his relationships with MCU mainstays Stark and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is a highlight of the film.
Aside from some frenetic moments of action that is too closeup to yield substance in the chaos of movement, the action set pieces in the film are creative, particularly in their use of Spider-Man’s specific abilities. None of the scenes feel clunky or gaudy, and they mix the two tones of the film—Spidey’s light humor and the darker tones of impending tragedy—very well.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is an easily-digestible meal. The only things that really slow down the film are the supporting characters. Parker’s best friend, the “guy in the chair,” is played with perfect charisma by Jacob Batalon, but the other members of Parker’s peer group are noticeably lacking and live in a strangely close environment (Parker, his bully, and his love interest are all members of the same Academic Decathlon team, for one).
Still, the film makes good use of its title character; surprising given how saturated the property has been on the silver screen. With Homecoming, Marvel proves that Spider-Man is a name more suited for the MCU than as a standalone Sony property.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: B
As always, thanks for reading!
Like CineFiles on Facebook for updates on new articles and reviews.
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)