It’s one of those things that people say that you can’t go home again; but really you can, as long as you do it right. Spider-Man: Homecoming rolls into theatres at just the right time for a Marvel universe that while still entertaining was starting to get a little repetitive at times as this reboot of the Spider-Man is on point with the comics of yesteryear and finally allows us to see the web slinger the way he was always meant to be seen; as a precious kid wanting to do the right thing and getting into a little bit of trouble along the way.
In the wake of the events that we saw in Civil War, A young and very eager Peter Parker (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero. Emboldened by his experience with the Avengers, Peter settles in back home where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) all the while under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine of school, girls and life in general all the while distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. However when the Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most dear will be put to the test as he learns what he’ll truly have to do to become to superhero that he wants to be and that the world deserves.
Through a unique blend of self-effacing humor and freshly staged action, Spider-Man: Homecoming is easily the best iteration of this character that we’ve seen…quite possibly ever and provides a fresh shot in the arm to a superhero universe that had been more focused on world building (and its subsequent destruction) then cracking wise and having some genuine fun with the premises put in front of them.
Coming off of 2015’s dark, yet widely comic Cop Car, writer/director Jon Watts was easily the best choice to helm this portion of the Marvel Universe. He attacks the material with a teenage like, frenetic style that translates exceptionally well to the adventures of a young man in the big city trying to define himself any way he can. The action sequences are quite solid and for a refreshing change not hell bent on destroying everything that Spider-Man (and his enemies) come across. It’s neighbourhood style action for our friendly neighbourhood web slinger. He also allows for genuine character development as we don’t necessarily see Peter as this larger than life hero, just as a young man with a high intellect who still has some important life lessons that school can’t teach him. Spending his nights in that mask and those tights gives him a crash course on how to not only be a superhero, but be the kind of young man that those he cares about want him to be. It captures the coming of age essence that makes the character so truly relatable and iconic for audiences everywhere, as the film allows for a healthy dose of heart and hilarity to go side by side with the mayhem. Granted with six different people pitching into the screenplay, it gets a little scattered and off the rails on occasion but quickly corrects itself thanks to the likeability and genuine charisma of its leading man.
Now at the ripe old age of 21, Tom Holland can easily carry a picture. He gave the character both poise and presence while never forgetting that he was playing a teenager who doesn’t always know what he’s getting into. He feels like he’s going to be the kind of actor who can carry a franchise and/or win awards for decades to come and that’s an exciting thing to see on screen. As both his mentor on (and probably even off) screen, Robert Downey Jr provides a flashy but sage and calming influence to a young Peter who just wants to be listened to and taken seriously. Their dynamic together is quite good and I look forward to seeing more of them together both in and out of the Marvel Universe. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes (The Vulture) allows some genuine humanity to sneak into the menace and the dread that he brings to the table. He was broken by the actions and results of the existence of the Avengers and he marks a unique instance in this universe where we see that the actions of all of these characters have consequences that have to be dealt with eventually. That’s what Tony is trying to drill into young Peter’s head and that is what gives the entire film some genuine pathos and humanity. Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine & Jacob Batalon all round out the ensemble nicely and make this an upper echelon quality Marvel movie for the books.
With Spider-Man: Homecoming we get the movie the Marvel universe needed at just the right time as it reminds us that these are stories about real characters dealing with things so fantastical that we also should not take it all that seriously at the exact same time. The line between pure entertainment and quality storytelling gets straddled to near perfection on this one and it is a sight to behold.