Release Date: July 7, 2017
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomel, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Selenis Leyva, Angourie Rice, Martin Starr, Garcelle Beauvais, Michael Chernus, Michael Mando, Logan Marshall-Green, Jennifer Connelly
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 133 minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Pascal Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Budget: $175,000,000 (estimated)
Sony Pictures has been all over the place when it comes to their Spider-Man franchise. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004) is still arguably considered the best amongst fans, being grounded with its character depth, and now Homecoming is up for the challenge. The studio made the mistake of interfering with Spider-Man 3’s (2007) development, causing a reboot to an even bigger mess with the The Amazing Spider-Man films, causing another reboot. They should get it right the third time around correct? It seemed like fans from all over were screaming at the top of their lungs for the studio to stop ruining such a beloved character. At least I was for that matter. Then the impossible happened with Captain America: Civil War (2016), with Marvel and Sony teaming up to share the character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It was a dream come true in that last film. Though the question now is how does Spider-Man stand on its own. There was a ton of compromises from both studios regarding what direction to take, and now the time has come to see what’s been brewing up behind the scenes, and if Mr. Holland can stand as the new Spider-Man.
He certainly has the look down, to where it seems like the character jumped right out of the comic book. With Spider-Man’s origin starting in high school, the casting is everything it needed to be to serve the character true justice. In past iterations, the casting choices appeared too old to fill in the wall crawler’s shoes by comparison. Here Peter Parker (Tom Holland) looks his age, at fifteen years old in his sophomore year, which is perfect. As a fan myself (and yes I am biased with this movie) I would love to see the first three films of Peter Parker’s story focus on nothing more than his high school years, and the way Homecoming is set up, it appears that exact thing will happen. Peter Parker felt exactly how he should have. He is a kid in a large world, trying to fit in while balancing two worlds. High school molds us all, and going through that while trying to live up to super hero status was a great introduction for his character. He was completely innocent and couldn’t help busting out of the seams nearly every scene he was a part of. It was fun seeing Parker geek out at every new detail that came his way. In most moments, he felt like the Peter Parker I know, while at other times it felt like those moments were stolen from him by other plot devices; not allowing the story to focus on how intelligent he is. His surrounding cast did their job too though. As far as appearance, there are a few changes from the comics. Some are fine, while others I had issue with. I will say I’m very happy with the way they handle Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Going in I thought the presence of Ironman/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) would saturate the film. Fortunately, he didn’t and helped cement the new Spider-Man into the MCU.
The way Peter Parker was handled was great, but Spider-Man itself wasn’t as promising. One thing that makes Spider-Man “Spider-Man” is his ‘Spidey-Sense.’ It’s core to his character. There was no mention of it in Civil War, which is expected, but not having that ability in his own solo film was a huge mistake. Besides Spider-Man being the most popular Marvel hero, he can compete with the strongest. So not including a key element that put him in that league brought this new incarnation down. I also have an issue with the suit. When anyone is engaging in battle it makes sense to use every asset you have to seize the moment as fast as possible, especially when death is around the corner. So having Tony Stark build Spider-Man’s suit makes sense within reference to that, but the film took it too far. Peter Parker/Spider-Man is also a genius, or at least on his way to that status. His character is known for tinkering around and trying to create gadgets that enhance his own suit. All of this was taken away with Spidey’s new semi-robotic costume from Stark. By doing this it didn’t feel like Spider-Man. It didn’t even feel like Iron Spider, a suit Tony gives Spider-Man later in the comics. Another aspect of Spider-Man that makes him the coolest is his agile web-slinging from sky scrapers. This was also absent in the film. Spider-Man is caught swinging around suburb neighborhoods. So him not getting into the full swing of things was a misfire.
This film easily has one of the better villains in the entire MCU with the addition of Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton). Keaton played the role with a lot of intensity without even being that aggressive. You understood where he was coming from, with him just trying to provide for his family. I liked that he wasn’t selfish either, only going after the ones that stole from him. This makes him more than a mustache twirling villain and more relatable to the average man. Everyone has thought of taking out revenge on those who have taken advantage of them in the past, and this notion is what drove his character. The issue I have is with the Vulture adaptation itself. The design looks formidable, but it doesn’t relate to the story much. The suits purpose is flight. So it’s not clear why it’s modeled after a vulture. An extra line of dialogue would’ve been appreciated, or an origin to the suit, but it isn’t anything that misses it mark too much.
When it comes to the story, it isn’t over complicated. Spider-Man is on a high from being in battle with the Avengers, and he just wants to show what he can do. Given his position, it totally adds up. He was taught with great power comes great responsibility, and he’s taking it in stride. So when muggers are snatching purses around the corner he has to get involved. When thieves are robbing a bank next door to his favorite diner, he must get involved, even more so when he finds out the weapons that are used to pull off such work. Being a kid in high school with the abilities he possesses, he has no choice but to do what he thinks is right, even if he makes mistakes repeatedly.
The film went overkill with trying to solidify this with the rest of the MCU. It was clear as day already with Civil War, and the opening of this movie, but towards the end extra amounts of dialogue was thrown in that felt nothing short of forced. It’s as if the studio doesn’t have confidence without relying on other characters. The action was just ok, or in other words mediocre. There wasn’t one action scene that had me on the edge of my seat cheering on as Spider-Man engaged with his enemies. This could be due to most of the material being showcased through trailers and TV spots, but it may be from them not fully embracing the character that’s known and loved.
After five films you would think with this sixth film Sony Pictures would be experts at telling stories for Spider-Man. They aren’t there quite yet, but there’s still a reason to hold out hope for them to get it right. While they succeeded in other recent errors from the past, they slipped up on a few others. Besides having some of the best action for a character in any Spidey film like Spider-Man 2, it was more than just seeing the character in the costume. You cared for Spider-Man dearly in that ‘04 version, like he was a relative of yours. You just wanted Spider-Man to be happy, and everything got in the way. There was no emotional connection like that with Peter Parker in Homecoming. Not even once did I feel he was in real danger either. Though with all that said, it’s still a great film that you can enjoy. It’s just not perfect. I can at least say the studio is headed in the right direction to give us the near perfect Spider-Man film audiences want. I look forward to what’s to come. And with all the positives the film has, it makes me proud to be a Marvel fan.