There was a time when Spider-Man was everyone’s favourite superhero. This was in the early 2000s when Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 swept fans off their feet. This was way before the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There were no cool postcredit scenes.
Superhero movies could be counted with one hand. Spider-Man set a standard for superhero movies. Spider-Man 2 was great and then Spider-Man 3 never happened (we’d like to think). The reboot with Andrew Garfield was flashy but just was too serious and got out of control towards the end. Spider-Man: Homecoming is a welcome return to the fun Spidey and more: it creates its own distinct identity.
Some may be experiencing superhero movie fatigue as the MCU chugs along spitting out great movie after great movie with a formula: a light-hearted character-driven narrative. A.I. after all examined there are only six types of stories. But after some time each movie just feels more run-of-the-mill than its own special piece. Homecoming can feel like “just another great MCU film” but it might be the type to be better as it ages.
Tom Holland captures the innocence and enthusiasm of a young Peter Parker. He isn’t comparable to Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield because of the younger take on this Spider-Man tale. The supporting cast are comprised of different takes on classic characters like Aunt May, Ned Leeds, and Liz Allan. More notable characters like Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, and Harry Osborne are absent (for the mean time).
The multicultural cast are down-to-earth and likable in their own ways. Even the classic high school bully Flash has his funny moments. The purist in me hates what they’ve done with Aunt May, turning the sweet caring lady into a foxy cool auntie Tony Stark has the hots for but it fits and it’s difficult to hate Marisa Tomei. Zendaya was all about her one-minute cutscenes as the mysterious Michelle but it’s curious how her role expands in the sequels.
Let’s get cheeky: this isn’t your father’s Spider-Man. And if you’re a fan of the old school approach, the mature and heavy Raimi version, you’ll be upset with this one. But that style just wouldn’t fit in what the MCU is about and that’s both good and disappointing. It’s good because we get a new Spider-Man movie that is nothing like its predecessors and disappointing because it will have a tougher time standing out amidst the flood MCU films all with the same formula.
We’ll dedicate a whole paragraph on Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture. The endless memes and references to make is too easy but Keaton adds much-needed grit and dark humour in a film that really skimped out on any moments to sympathize with Parker. Keaton is great if just for the nostalgia and plays a rather bland but likeable character but it has more to do with the character. It was a cool concept but given the plethora of Spidey villains, he doesn’t make a lasting impact.
But Homecoming manages to craft its own identity albeit it may take a while to realize given how busy Marvel’s calendar is. This new Spidey flick manages to recreate Spider-Man while keeping his character intact and offers plenty of possibilities for future movies. Some traditionalists may be let down and not recognize anything beyond Spidey but the charming characters, helpful amounts of Easter eggs and homages to its predecessors will draw them in anyhow.
However, as a film it’s run-of-the-mill and doesn’t have that emotional impact to make it stand out and when future Spider-Man movies come out, this movie’s stock might rise as it could’ve been the best reboot/origin story because it manages to enthrall the fans and capture a new audience. But for now, it’s merely “just okay”. ★★★