I don’t typically have spoilers in my reviews, but for the sake of being able to fully analyze this film, I’m going to have to. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, here are the cliff notes: I liked it a lot, Not enough Spider-Man, Too much Avengers, perfect Peter Parker. Now let’s get to this review.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is, in my mind, the best Marvel movie yet. It has solid performances, is genuinely funny without trying to shoehorn in that Marvel quippiness, has actual style, and feels beautifully alive. I know that doesn’t exactly make sense, so let me phrase it this way. This is the only Marvel movie (save for the Guardians franchise) that feels like everyone is trying to make the best movie they can. If you watch something like Captain America: Civil War, you aren’t watching a film so much as you are a product. Most of the MCU is just bloated, bland bits of recycled iconography that are meant to trick you into thinking they’re good simply because they’re safely constructed. Homecoming, on the other hand, felt fresh again. You could see the excitement behind everyone in the movie. It was funny and entertaining and effortlessly personal. That being said, this movie could have done a lot of things better.
The biggest issue with this movie can be summed up by simply looking at the opening shot. The opening shot of Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a shot of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, or even a CGI spider, it’s a crayon drawing of The Avengers. The amount of Avengers nonsense in this movie was unfathomable. I’m not even talking about Iron-Man, even though he started to get on my nerves after a while, as he was in the movie far less than I thought he would be. No, I’m talking about the idiotic winking at the camera throughout the entire movie. We’d be having a great scene of Peter Parker being awkward or Michael Keaton being creepy and then someone would say something like, “HEY! DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN IRON-MAN BLEW UP THE CITY WHEN HE SAVED US FROM ALL THOSE ALIENS?!!” Or just nonstop, “Hey Zugovia, hey Ultron, hey Vision, hey The Hulk, hey Captain America wearing those old pajamas for some reason, hey I’d totally have sex with Thor.” I’m not even kidding it was literally every five minutes. There’s a line in this movie which is something along the lines of “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you don’t even deserve to wear it.” The MCU is Spider-Man: Homecoming’s suit. And while at the end of the movie Peter Parker learns he’s cool enough to stand on his own without it, this franchise is terrified of making a film without the success of their previous entries backing them. This is Spider-Man, for god’s sakes, he is Marvel’s most interesting character, period. So just make a Spider-Man movie and don’t shove your pandering nonsense into my Peter Parker’s storyline. It’s clear that they want this to be the replacement for Iron-Man, which is fine, but you don’t have to make the character Iron-Man Light. They gave him his own Jarvis and a drone to the point that I half-expected them to throw a jetpack on his back. I understand that there are multiple approaches with which you can take the character, but this was the least Spider-Man Spider-Man we’ve had yet.
I was really dismayed by how they treated Spider-Man in this movie. There is not a single shot of Spider-Man swinging through downtown New York. Not one. That is Spider-Man. You can get rid of Mary Jane, the Spider-Sense, Webshooter-free Webs, it doesn’t matter. Spider-Man’s bread and butter is New York. I thought the Spidey in the Suburbs scene was hilarious because it presented a situation of “what does Spider-Man do when there aren’t any tall buildings?” The reason why I thought it was so funny was because I assumed we would have some sort of a swinging through Manhattan sort of sequence, but alas, there were none to be found. Don’t misunderstand me, I was still really entertained by a number of the action scenes in this film, the Staten Island ferry sequence and the Washington Monument sequence were both genuinely thrilling. But that’s really it. The plane sequence did nothing for me. When they crashed on Coney Island I started losing my mind because I figured they were going to have them fight on the rides, but instead there was an explosion and that’s it. I mean, how do you put any superhero, let alone Spider-Man in an amusement park and not have them fight on a roller coaster? It just seems so insane to me. All of that being said, Tom Holland did do a great job as the character. Where he was a pretty good Spider-Man, he was a fantastic Peter Parker.
Every Peter Parker scene in this movie was just pure magic. The high school aspect of this movie was realized in such a unique and magnetic way. When I realized they were shortchanging Spider-Man in this film, I would have rathered they just go full Peter Parker. You’re letting Spider-Man take the backseat anyway, why not have him be the alter ego to Peter Parker instead of the other way around. The supporting cast around Holland was great as well. Not only the mains like Marissa Tomei as Aunt May, Jon Favreau as Happy, and Jacob Batalon as Ned, but even the side characters like Tony Revolori as Flash and Abraham Attah as the African kid. It’s a testament to both how personal this movie was and how detached the other Marvel films are that I felt more stakes when Peter was asking Liz to the dance than at any point when the stupid world is in danger or some fake country is floating in the sky. I would have liked to see them do more with the Peter/Aunt May dynamic, but I guess that would require them taking time away from the Avengers, so why would they do that? After all, Aunt May’s not going to be in the Infinity War, right?
Michael Keaton’s The Vulture is the best villain in any Marvel movie, period. Sorry if there are any Loki fans out there, not because I’m sorry for disagreeing with you, but just because I’m sorry you exist. He felt so well-realized, rather than just being a punching bag for the hero to ultimately thwart. The scene with him and Peter in the car might just be the best scene in the entire MCU. While I wasn’t crazy about the design of his costume, I felt his reasonings for doing what he was doing made sense and felt sincere. Not to mention the fact that his post-credit scene was the literal only time I have ever stayed after the credits in one of these movies and felt genuinely rewarded. That’s because rather than throwing up some stupid tag about Black Panther, they actually added something to this movie, instead of just perpetually reminding us that there will be more movies to come. I hope that I haven’t come across as overly negative in this review, as I really did have a genuinely fun time watching this movie. It’s Marvel’s best, but still, has quite a ways to go. All I’m saying is if Marvel kept from meddling with the movies, (and stopped putting such an ugly color correction filter) they could be a lot more solid. Either way, Spider-Man Homecoming is a blast and is one that deserves to be seen in theaters.
All images are from Spider-Man: Homecoming, a film by Sony Pictures