I just came from seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming. That didn’t sound right. I just saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, and if I’m to sum it up in just one word, that word is fun. It’s funny as heck, but to sum up the whole experience, it was fun. But one word isn’t what I’m paid for. I’ll be sharing the experience through this spoiler-free review as the film is less than a week old and I don’t want to be that person just yet. But for the sake of a few shots in, I’ll go into some detail based on some of the stuff we’ve already seen, which are the trailers.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is very different from the Sam Raimi/Tobey McGuire and Marc Webb /Andrew Garfield versions of the web-crawler. You could say after watching it that Sony and Marvel went out of their way to totally differentiate this film from the previous incarnations. First off, let’s just say that Spider-Man’s origin story is not a big deal here. The entire film is his origin story. A rebirth of sorts. A budding hero coming into his own. The film may be different from the previous films, but if you’re keen enough, it makes several references and even apologies for the stuff we’ve already seen. There are plenty of Easter eggs in this film.
The characters are quite different beginning with Aunt May, then Peter’s best friend, Peter’s crush, the school he’s in, and Peter Parker himself. This film truly stays away from the baggage of the previous Spider-Man films and the origins of his powers and motivation isn’t discussed since we’ve been there twice. After seeing this film, you really won’t miss it, but it’s material for a second time. I for one am sick of seeing even a few seconds reference to Thomas and Martha Wayne in a Batman film.
Peter Parker is portrayed as an excited and active 15-year old. He’s a smart nerd, but it’s not delved into much. He’s plagued by the same anxieties and immaturity of other kids, and nerds his age. In this film, guess we can say he was excited in Civil War and he wants more and like a kid, he’s eager to prove himself and it’s that eagerness that drives the movie.
Jacob Batalon plays Ned, Peter’s best friend and co-nerd. As mentioned, this film tries to stray away from the baggage of the previous ones. No Harry Osborn here. Just plain Ned, with no surname though as a comic book fan, my first thought was a racially-bent Ned Leeds. As per the trailers, he finds out that Peter is Spider-Man which puts some dynamic into the film. You know what happens to best friends who find out their pal is a superhero right? Without giving too much away, just think Wade from Kim Possible. As for Jacob, he played his cards right and played them well.
Speaking of friends, Peter spends much time in school as any kid should. If you’re keen enough, Marvel and Sony shoved a Black Cat somewhere in there among the students. How about Gwen Stacy? Her looks are there, but you’d be surprised. Laura Harrier plays Liz, Peter’s love interest. Spider-Man is quite a ladies’ man as he’s been with plenty throughout his comic book history. One of them is Liz Allan, but again, Liz isn’t given a last name because she’s a bit different. As a departure from previous films, love isn’t really on the table in this film, and it’s refreshing. How about Flash Thompson? Still a bully but not what you’d think. The same goes with Zendaya’s Michelle MJ Jones. And I thought Peter’s principal looked familiar. A descendant of the Asian guy from Captain America: First Avenger. Let’s just say that this film is racially diverse and politically correct as it gets. But Marvel pulls it off.
Michael Keaton as the Vulture is a great villain. You could say that star power made Vulture look more three-dimensional and not just a throwaway. It was a great idea to put the Vulture into the film as he’s someone the audience hasn’t seen before. When they stuck the Harry Osborn Jr. as the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man 2, I thought it was a horrible decision, not to mention a horrible take on the character, and the third tiresome Goblin incarnation in cinema. Michael Keaton, in my opinion, put on a great performance in the film, at the beginning and in the middle of the film in a twist that will make audiences drop their jaw even if you’re already aware of his relationship with another supporting character. Regarding that and the capabilities of his tech, he’s quite similar to Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. As for the Vulture himself, let’s just say his motivations are pretty simple but something you can’t dismiss. Does this film have the Marvel villain problem? No, it does not. Michael Keaton’s star power alone is enough to put that worry to rest, and The Vulture is interesting enough for a second run. Then there’s also The Shocker (two of them), The Tinkerer and a name you’ll likely to associate with another antagonistic arachnid.
Maria Tomei’s Aunt May was just hot. This film really moved away from the tradition of Aunt May being a frail old lady to a middle-aged woman that more logically fits Peter’s actual age. The traditional Aunt May logically would have been Peter’s great aunt unless Peters parents had him at 40. It’s awkward and refreshing at the same time to ogle at someone who used to be a very old character, played by the endearing Rosemarie Harris. In terms of her acting, she doesn’t get many lines in to gauge that.
Tony Stark and Happy Hogan. Both of them have equal exposure in this film as Tony acts as Spider-Man’s mentor and financier while Happy acts more like his supervisor. Peter reports to Happy and Happy reports to Tony. I was quite pleased with the performances of both RDJ and Jon Favreau. They’re pretty much like the adults you’d expect dismissive of that young kid who’s out to prove he’s an adult. Iron Man’s appearances are thankfully not limited to the trailers. Thankfully evenly spread out in the film and Tony’s and Happy’s business for being there goes well with the plot. Not forced, not a gimmick but well-integrated.
The effects are pretty much what you’d expect from a Marvel film, which is quite good and pretty much familiar. If I’d have to nitpick, the depictions of the Iron Man suit look a bit different, not just because it’s a new suit but the CGI felt a bit sloppy. The Vulture suit looked amazing and worked to great effect much like the Defoe’s Goblin Glider. The tech and the weapons used in the film are mostly Chitauri-based. You’d have to wonder where all the alien tech went. Not everything went to SHIELD and the government for sure. The Spider suit as we know have those expressive eyes which try to explain quite a lot about how those eyes have been drawn over the years. He also makes use of trackers much like in the comics and cartoons, but that’s thanks to Tony Stark. The suit also has its own AI and holographic capabilities like Iron Man’s.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is perhaps the most fun Marvel film I’ve seen since Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1. Remember what I said about internal conflicts between the protagonists that puts a sour taste in films in about the third act? It’s there right at the part when Tony Stark wanted his suit back, but there’s not too much drama after it. Peter’s a kid; he bounces back like a kid calming down from a sugar rush, without the teenage angst young adults are often portrayed in. Through much of the beginning of the film, Peter has plenty of anxiety and excitability (for lack of a better word) after his experience in Captain America: Civil War. The film has plenty of humor. The film is riddled with it but it’s made in such a way that it’s not a comedy. It’s still a balanced action-adventure superhero film and I’m not saying this as an MCU fan. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. What are you waiting for? I guess, you could say, the first sentence was correct. The film was a nerdgasm.