Spider-Man: Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, is pretty much… well… it’s a Spider-Man film. For me it didn’t really do anything new or particularly interesting with the webbed slinger, but what it does do with him is still enjoyable to watch. I was certainly entertained by the film and I think that Tom Holland is a brilliant choice. But still, I couldn’t ever get past the fact that I’d seen all of this before and while it was slightly enhanced by the Marvel way of doing things, it was still something that left me feeling lukewarm on the whole thing. There’s much to dissect about this film, so let’s get onto the main review and see what it is this film has to offer.
After being thrust into the crazy situation that took place in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Spider-Man/Peter Parker – played by Tom Holland – now tries to prove that he can be a contributing member to one of the most famous fighting forces in the world – The Avengers. However, Tony Stark – played as always by Robert Downey Jr. – and Happy Hogan – played by Jon Favreau – want to keep him at a level that they feel is more suitable to his level of experience (helping people with day-to-day issues etc.). This frustrates Peter and so he seeks out bigger fish and soon gets wrapped up in something that might be beyond his abilities and could jeopardise his chance at becoming an actual member of The Avengers.
So yeah, as I already alluded to in my introduction, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a film that plays it by the books – two books in fact. The first being the formula that we’ve more or less seen in the other two Spider-Man film outings (that being the ones with, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as the webbed hero), and the second being the now very well-established way in which Marvel likes to handle their films. This means you have a film that is pretty unoriginal in its content and really predictable in how things play out from a plot standpoint.
But I feel that for most people this won’t be much of a problem because they’re just excited to finally see Spidey in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and chumming it up with everyone’s favourite, Tony Stark. It cannot be denied that this film is fun and that is offers up some exciting stuff, but it also cannot be said that this film is in any way original in the themes/topics it approaches.
However, Tom Holland is perhaps the crowning achievement of the new film. I liked him quite a bit in, Captain America: Civil War and was interested to see what he would do in a standalone film, and I’m happy to say that he did not disappoint.
Holland does something that the previous two films struggled to achieve, and that is both deliver a relatable Peter Parker, and also a funny, likeable Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire delivered a great Peter Parker but a bland Spider-Man. Whereas, Andrew Garfield delivered a whiny Peter Parker, but a really enjoyably Spider-Man. In this film, Tom Holland delivers on both aspects of the character and genuinely made me happy to see both on-screen.
He brings a young, funny innocence to the role and it always looks like he’s having fun on-screen. He was already a great addition to the MCU in Civil War and now this film has only strengthened and built upon his place within it, going forward. Once again, Marvel has nailed the casting of an actor in an iconic role and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with the portrayal they get.
And perhaps my favourite aspect of the whole film was the handling of the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Both aspects of the character really struggle with the obstacles that come their way. Peter struggles to cope with the banality of life, after being a part of something so huge (the events in Civil War) and Spider-Man really struggles to face challenges that are simply beyond his level of experience.
However, I liked that Spider-Man wasn’t a bad guy dispensing machine. He struggled to take on a handful of foes, and when it came to opponents who were more experienced and had some dangerous tech at their disposal, he gave it his all and it showed, both through Holland’s performance and how messed up the character gets. It was a nice change of pace, especially after films where mass amounts of enemies have been dispatched with ease. In this film, Peter messes up – sometimes in ways that are really bad – but that doesn’t stop him and his commitment to fight on is one of the attributes that makes him such a likeable person to follow along with – a person who has a meaningful arc over the course of the film.
So at no point does he give up and though success is not something that comes Peter’s way often, I liked that he fought to still accomplish his primary want in life – being a contributing part to The Avengers. You see him fail often and he is faced with challenges that are simply beyond his reach, and for me that was really quite compelling to watch (within the context of the greater MCU). We’ve at this point had films where aliens have attacked New York and a witty bunch of space pirates have fought a planet. So much craziness has happened within the MCU at this point, and so to bring it back to a more grounded place really gives an interesting look at the universe of films and the characters within it. And Peter Parker was a brilliant choice to do that. A high school kid who has no idea of the kinds of things that are out there and will one day be on his door step really does add a sense of scale to everything.
That is what works so great about this film, is that Peter feels like a great new addition to the other set of films and not only works in this standalone outing but will surely bring an interesting new dynamic to a team of people who have seen some unimaginable things and who are also much older and more experienced in not only combating serious threats, but in life in general.
And I’m also happy to say that this is also a film that boasts a great supporting cast of characters. Ned – played by Jacob Batalon – being the standout. He is forever funny and never once a tedious side-show to his best friend, Peter. I was always happy to see him on-screen and he more than once had me cracking up. Though he wasn’t that well fleshed out, he still more than delivered on the purpose that he had in the film. The same can be said for much of the other supporting characters in the film, who all fulfil their purpose well and none of them ever feel wasted or standout as an annoyance.
Actually, when I say no one is wasted, that doesn’t count Michael Keaton – who plays Adrian Toomes/Vulture. It is another example of Marvel employing a stellar actor, only to relegate them to a woefully underdeveloped part. I did find the motivation for the villain to be refreshingly different (a hard working guy who is fed up with being stepped on by the big guys, like Tony Stark, and wants to get himself a little bit of the pie and so turns to small time gun running) for me that was different enough that I found him to be someone that was interesting to follow. I just wish the film actually gave me more of him because if he had been fleshed out just a little bit more, I think he could have become someone that really stood out, when compared to other Marvel villains – but I suppose this is Spider-Man’s film, not Vulture’s.
There was also an interesting twist with, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (and if you’ve seen the film you know what I’m talking about) that actually made me sit up in my chair and think, “Oh, now we have something really interesting to this character.” But it unfortunately never really added up to anything. It did offer a greatly tense moment, where Keaton really got to shine, but it sadly didn’t become anything more than that.
However, there was one very particular aspect to this film that nearly bored me out of my seat, and for once it wasn’t the villain – who does still have something interesting to him, thanks to Keaton – and that is all the high school blah. I can’t stress to you just how much I don’t care and will never care about high school drama and all the stereotypical dullness that comes with it. Whether they are talking about homecoming dances or worrying about being invited to the popular girl’s party, there is just no point where that is ever interesting content – it is all meaningless.
The film of course takes place at a point where Peter is in high school, so I was prepared to sit through some boring, predictable high school drama, but the positive thing that I can gleam from it all is that the film doesn’t put that much focus on it. In this film, Peter is the focus and the development of him and his journey after the chaos of Civil War takes precedence. So while I certainly found there to be moments where I completely checked out of the film, it was never for very long, as it would find its way back to things that were actually interesting and most importantly (when considering a summer blockbuster) entertaining.
But with this being a summer blockbuster that means you have probably struggled to avoid the trailers – which is a problem. The trailers for this film spoiled almost every single plot point and action sequence. This film was already easy to predict and then with the addition of how much was given away in the trailers, it meant that once, and only once, was I ever surprised by something in the film. Every single other point in it was predictable or spoiled by the trailer. It’s a shame because it’s not like this is a bad film or a boring one – it’s actually far from either of those things – I just wish the chance to discover things and be surprised by plot developments wasn’t taken away from me. It was something for me that certainly put a dampener on the experience.
But in the end though, Spider-Man: Homecoming is still an enjoyable film to watch. Personally I still prefer the first two Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire, but that still doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyable qualities of this one. Spider-Man fanatics will surely love what they get. Marvel movie fans will love the continuing quality that they churn out, and general audiences will more than likely be satisfied with another Marvel film that offers a fun, exciting 2 hour superhero extravaganza.
So I’m recommending Spider-Man: Homecoming. Not that my recommendation really matters because people are going to go see this film, regardless of if the critics are kind to it or not. So I hope you enjoy your time with the film and it delivers on what you were hoping for.
I’d love to know your thoughts on both the film and my review, so please feel free to leave your opinions/feedback in the comments down below. You can also follow my blog directly and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – as that way you’ll know when I post something new. All that’s left to say is thank you and I hope to see you return to read more of my stuff.