Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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Captain America: Civil (2016) brought Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe over a year ago, but with all the hype going on behind the scenes, can the character really produce a solid standalone film under the Marvel banner? Find out as Jordan Samuel gives us the official Spider-Man: Homecoming review.
Spider-Man: Homecoming Review
Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine -- distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighbourhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.
The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is a poster child of Marvel Comics, embracing the essence and values the company stands for.
Peter Parker’s great responsibility is a large part of the character's large impact and is embedded in his rich comic book history; with countless adaptations being made in print form. But many people believe the most influential and groundbreaking version in history was the live-action Hollywood adaptation Spider-Man (2002), which brought a fresh era of superhero movies to the big screen.
Sam Rami (Evil Dead) had so much love for the character, which was shown in the touching and lighthearted approach to the web slinger's famous origins; adding twists into the mix, Spider-Man (2002) really brought the genre to a modern generation. This vision was again perfected in the world-renowned Spider-Man 2 (2004) which further expanded a universe and delved into strong themes, like what makes a hero.
Those movies were my invitation into comics, with their lighthearted tone and unique approaches to an already famous origin story. Since then, Spider-Man has been my favorite character in all of comics.
The web head hasn’t had the best time in pop-culture recently, with sequel Spider-Man 3 (2007) ending a nearly perfect trilogy on a sour note. Our hero has been left in an endless limbo ever since. This all led to an eventual reboot The Amazing Spider-Man (2011), which was released to a mixed reception, with many fed-up of the repeated iconic origin story. The series was cut short after a disastrous sequel.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) failed in telling a decent story, instead it shamelessly tried to set up future movies and spin-offs, but only succeeded to dooming Sony's stand-alone efforts.
Enter Marvel Studios.
This all resulted up with Spider-Man appearing in Captain America: Civil War (2016), and getting a rebirth in a new universe titled Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
But after years of studio talk and rumours, does the reboot actually work?
Let's find out.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the on-screen revival needed to renew faith in a fading movie icon, giving fans and newcomers the best adaptation since Spider-Man 2 (2004), by both balancing a coming-of-age story with stand-out superhero elements.
Independent filmmaker Jon Watts (Cop Car) helms the project, embracing all the golden age aspects of Spider-Man, including a lighter tone and the idea of Peter Parker being the new kid on a larger scene. Spider-Man: Homecoming shares similarities to the Marvel Ultimate comic book line, which is apparent from the opening titles, as we are introduced to a much younger version of the web crawler.
The unique tone sets the movie apart from other previous Marvel iterations, focusing on Peter Parker's (Tom Holland) connection with his peers and the idea of being a young superhero in a world filled with established ones. Throwing away the unnecessary origin story that had cluttered the last few Spider-Man live-action films; at heart Spider-Man: Homecoming is a character-driven project. It drops the mindless and terrible romantic subplots, to give a new sense of meaning to the beloved web-slinger.
Spider-Man: Homecoming story is a mix between the classic Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #2 (1963) and Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1 (2000), as Spider-Man tries to balance his ordinary school life and his superhero persona. All hell then comes loose when the wicked Vulture (Michael Keaton) flies into the limelight.
Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley write a straight-forward story with Spider-Man: Homecoming, which focuses on the aspects that make the character different from the adult superheroes seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Relying on high school nostalgia and John Hugh’s signature light-hearted tone. It's different and it works.
I loved this change, as it feels unique enough to stand alone in the larger universe. Many have complained about Iron Man being a part of the movie, but his short presence doesn’t take away from giving Spider-Man a unique story, instead, it teaches him a good lesson in the superhero business.
John Watts' love for character development work and for putting some meat into the newcomer’s shoes is clear, which is a stark contrast to the last couple big team-up outings. Watts understands how to make the quip wielding Spider-Man pop on-screen, as he coaxes old and young audiences into constantly rooting for him, even through the awkwardness.
Doctor Strange (2016) started this change in the importance of origin stories, as Spider-Man: Homecoming glosses over the Uncle Ben moment, which gives room for a solid adventure. I enjoyed that change.
Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War) returns as Peter Parker / Spider-Man; the 15-year-old who got bitten by a genetically modified Spider and becomes the youngest superhero in Queens New York. Peter Parker is a shy and awkward teenager who must carry the burden of his normal life alongside his New York crime fighting career. During Spider-Man: Homecoming he learns about the weight on his shoulders. When a new big bad comes into the scene, Peter Parker is forced into fighting for everything and every person he loves, as things quickly spiral into a deadly situation.
Tom Holland is not only a great actor to see on screen, but he holds the character to high standard by topping his predecessors with the younger charm and innocence. The connection with his friends is what separates him from the pack. The connection between them is not like anything seen in the comic book world; the high school stress and the development into adulthood is a new and interesting thing to see unfold on screen.
Holland provides my childhood wish, by embracing the iconic character's quirks, due to best franchise casting in decades. Marvel has finally done the web-head justice. The kid is the perfect Spider-Man, just like Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers) made Iron Man come to life in 2008.
Legendary actor Michael Keaton (Batman) plays Adrian Toomes (aka the Vulture), a former good guy turned criminal who salvages materials from the famous New York Avengers battle and uses a winged-suit from leftover Chitauri technology to terrorize the community.
Toomes is a strong lover of family, embracing criminals into spreading his business to different levels; paralleling the Iron Man / Avengers backstory but without obvious morals. Writers give the character some outstanding sequences and establish his story with great results; making him the best villain in Spider-Man movie history since Doctor Octopus in Sami Rami’s Spider-Man 2 (2004).
Michael Keaton hits the dark role out of the park and shares some menacing dialogue throughout the run-time; with some interesting father and son conversations in the final moments. This balanced against Tom Holland's innocence, which will keep the audience glued to the screen.
Vulture is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villain since Loki. He has an understandable motivation and grounded personality, which makes him one of the most realistic threats in the entire movie franchise.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) features some of the best and unique action sequences in Marvel Cinematic Universe history, in the sense that they can be frightening or simply thrilling. This film isn't relying on damaged skylines to provide impact, instead the action stays as grounded as the characters.
Spider-Man and Peter Parker are finally home with his best movie yet! Jon Watts gives fans a project filled with fun and hopeful optimism, while understanding why the character is beloved by millions!
Spider-Man and Peter Parker are finally home ,with his best movie yet! Jon Watts gives fans a project filled with fun and hopeful optimism, while understanding why the character is beloved by millions.