Now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into action and is the third big-screen incarnation of the Spider-Man character in the modern era. Spider-Man: Homecoming is directed by Jon Watts and stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau.
Homecoming picks up directly after the events of the Avengers (2012) movie where Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, unveils an organised underground criminal ring headed by Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes, aka Vulture, while trying to juggle his superhero self-discovery with hormones, girls and high-school academia.
Director Jon Watts successfully manages to tell Peter Parker’s coming-of-age story in a grounded and personal way while placing it in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside the likes of Iron Man. Tom Holland shines as Spidey and the charming teen making tough decisions under the cruel-to-be-kind guidance of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Used sparingly, RDJ’s presence not only adds the father-figure element but also reaffirms that Spider-Man has returned to Marvel, so to speak, and come home. The supporting cast is also excellent with comic relief coming from the extremely likable nerdy best friend Jacob Batalon’s Ned and an Aunt May by Marisa Tomei that makes a refreshing change.
Cinematic Marvel villains are often criticised for lacking character but Homecoming manages to buck the trend and add significant depth to Vulture’s character motivations which evolves dramatically in the last third of the movie when we realise he is the father of Liz, Peter’s love interest. Also, I loved Vulture’s aviation-inspired character design with its searing green eyes and deadly sharp mechanised wings and couldn’t wait to see more in its glory on the big-screen.
Initially, I was unsure how this version of Spider-Man relies heavily on the suit Tony Stark gives him as a consequence of Captain America: Civil War (2016). Peter has a lot of gadgets at his disposal which gets him out of a lot of sticky situations and ultimately lifts some tension. There is a lack of the classic ‘spider-sense’ ability too, which I’m dubbing ‘SenseGate’. But, I enjoyed how Tony decides to take the suit away from him, which happens later in the movie than I expected, and Parker’s character grows because of it.
I also would have liked to see a little bit more from the intriguing and funny Michelle, who turns out to be the new MJ. I hope she will be fleshed out more in the sequels and maybe get a Spidey suit of her own?
Spider-Man: Homecoming manages to shake up the formula but still retain most of the familiar aspects and remind us why Spider-Man is the most beloved comic book character ever. The movie is extremely fun, colourful and full of action and is without a doubt an entertaining ride. The biggest compliment I can give is, that while fitting snuggly into a bigger universe the film successfully works and stands on its own.