Yes, I know that this is the third incarnation of Spider-Man across six films since 2002. Yes, I know that there have been overall declining returns across the previous five films. Yes, I know that the war between Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield fans shall never end.
Hear me out, gang, alright?
Spider-Man: Homecoming is absolutely worth it.
I don’t feel the need to dive deep into the workings of the deal between Disney and Sony that allows the Spider-Man character to join the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you want to read more, Variety is a solid source on this.
This current version of Peter Parker debuted last year in Captain America: Civil War after Tony Stark discovered his true identity and brought him along to play defense against Cap’s side. Many people (myself included) hailed Tom Holland’s performance as one of the highlights in the film, as well as claiming that it could be leading towards the best Spider-Man performance yet.
Just over one year later, we get to focus on our young web-slinger.
The general idea of Spider-Man: Homecoming a high school-aged Peter Parker (Tom Holland, who actually looks like he could be in high school for once) trying to balance school, social life, and superhero training. He has to keep his secret identity from his friends and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) while obeying Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is trying to keep him out of danger. While trying to prove himself to Iron Man, he tries to take down a man making big thefts with his mysterious weapons and giant wings (Michael Keaton).
There’s nothing spoilery there, that’s all trailers, right? Cool, let’s go.
PLOT DETAILS THAT YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO KNOW ARE HERE
The film actually begins not too long after the events of The Avengers, with Keaton’s Adrian Toomes leading a salvage crew trying to clean up the city and do something with the alien technology left everywhere. They are quickly stopped by a secret government group that is taking over the job, but Toomes and his team secretly keep some of the tech. As time passes, they study and experiment with it and modify weapons to use and sell in their heists, including his own iconic wings.
Parker follows Toomes to Washington, D.C. while pretending to have rejoined the school’s academic decathlon team. He is outsmarted and trapped in a truck which is subsequently trapped in a giant vault. He is eventually able to escape, and he has to race to the Washington Monument to save his friends from a position he inadvertently put them in.
Afterwards, Parker tries to stop Toomes and his gang again while they’re making a deal on the Staten Island Ferry. However, the villain expected this, and is ready to fight off the web-slinger. The FBI is also on board (because Tony Stark actually listened to Parker’s worries) and is able to apprehend some of the criminals, but Toomes leaves behind a malfunctioning weapon that splits the ferry in half, as shown in the trailer. Spidey tries to hold it together with his webs, but Iron Man arrives to repair the ship and lecture Parker about how he isn’t ready for these decisions. Stark takes the suit from Parker as punishment.
With no more superhero work to do, Peter actually builds up some nerve and asks his crush, Liz, to the homecoming dance. When he arrives at her house in a suit, both he and the audience are stunned to learn that Toomes is her father. Toomes begins to sniff out Parker’s secret during a very menacing drive to the school and asks Liz if he can have a “dad talk” with the young boy. As soon as she leaves, he threatens to kill him and everyone he loves if he continues to interfere. Parker enters the dance for a few moments before realizing what he must do, and he leaves.
I think I’ll leave the final two set pieces out of this, as I just wouldn’t feel right discussing them too much in case not everyone knows. Trust me, just see this movie if you haven’t yet.
DON’T YOU WORRY, THE SPOILERS ARE ALL SET FROM HERE.
I know it’s still early (even though I’m pretty late with this review, oops), but I sincerely believe that Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best Spider-Man film we’ve had yet. I won’t fault you for picking Spider-Man 2, as it’s gotta be a pretty close decision. I haven’t seen most of those films in at least five years, so I’d like to revisit the early Raimi films in particular to decide for sure, but I feel very good about my call here.
Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both had their moments of succeeding with the character and missing something important. Tom Holland not only understands the entire character, but also does both parts better than either of his two predecessors did. He’s a great Peter Parker AND a great Spider-Man, and it’s necessary to tell the difference between the two while still seeing that it’s one person, and no one has managed to strike that balance like Holland has.
It’s no secret that Marvel has a villain problem, with most of them amounting to being either Loki or “not Loki”, but Michael Keaton gives us arguably the first truly scary villain in an MCU film. His portrayal of the Vulture is one of the most menacing characters in a blockbuster film of this nature.
Not only are the big superhero fights great, but the high school scenes really hold up as well. The supporting cast of Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, and Laura Harrier sell the “John Hughes-ness” of this story so efficiently, and make it the most realistic high school that we’ve seen in a Spider-Man film as well.
I haven’t yet seen Cop Car, but if it was enough to land director Jon Watts this sort of gig, I’m truly excited to see what else he has up his sleeve considering this rousing success.
When we eventually start working on a Filmsmiths MCU Ranking before Avengers: Infinity War comes out, it is going to be quite a bit more difficult to figure out because of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: 8/10