Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Jonathan Goldstein (screenplay), John Francis Daley (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
Coming off the back of the highly successful cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man returns home once more to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the aptly, double entendres, named Spider-Man: Homecoming. Featuring the directorial talents of Jon Watts, a man I’m not even going to kid on I knew about prior to this, and the refreshingly energetic acting talents of Tom Holland, this is a fantastic film packed full of action, comedy and sheer, unadulterated fun.
It thankfully doesn’t delve into the well trodden backstory of Peter Parker and how he developed his web slinging talents (no spider bites to be seen here). Instead, it quickly introduces the main villain, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), setting up the story of Homecoming off the after events of the alien attack seen in Avengers (his team of salvagers steal and reverse engineer the alien technology), before jumping in pretty much right from where Civil War ended and nicely connecting the two via a cool vlogging style, Spider-Man perspective on THAT airport scene. Before long Peter’s mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr) pops up with some pearls of wisdom and a shiny new suit for our web slinger to kickstart the action.
It might not be a typical origin story, but Parker who’s staying with his aunt May (Marisa Tomei), is still very much maturing into an adult and learning how to be a superhero. There’s a sequence early on (Blitzkreig Bop playing out) where he tries on his new Stark engineered attire for the first time and heads out to stop some petty criminals. Trouble is, in his new found eagerness to be a local crime-stopper, he often gets in the way nine times out of ten, decides to intervene in a bank robbery being committed by Toomes’ crew, that ends spectacularly wrong with his local deli being destroyed and, to add insult to injury, he loses his backpack. There’s a shy, underlying awkwardness to his personality (offset by his extroverted alter ego), that manifests itself in his crush for Michelle (Zendaya) and this budding, on-off relationship pretty much fuels much of the events that transpire in Homecoming.
There’s a myriad of positives, including absolutely beautiful visuals, CG and well handled fan service that connects Parker with the already established universe around him. I loved the humour in this film too and the way it was organically introduced into the story. A good example of this being the scene where Stark berates a reckless Parker from a remotely controlled, Iron Man drone, whilst chilling on holiday and even just the silly misadventures he and his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) get into. The action was exhilarating and complimented the somewhat quieter moments (a rare thing) perfectly. Holland delivered a fantastic performance and was a key player in the comedic moments. For me, he’s already eclipsed both Maguire and Garfield in this portrayal.
Michael Keaton was also tremendous as Vulture. His career has been resurgent lately and this continues that renaissance. Having said that, if I was to have one criticism of this film then it would be the lack of back story or reasoning behind the motivation of Toomes/Vulture and his crew for their wanton lust for destruction. I get that they were feeling disenfranchised by Stark and the establishment after being forced to leave a profitable salvage operation, but their part in the film felt slightly neglected and a little rushed. It certainly wasn’t down to a lack of screen time either. They focused plenty on Toomes and his crew, but it was mostly superficial, never really delving too deep into his psyche, but maybe that’s still to come in future films. Despite this though, Keaton really did take the character and make him a ominous presence from start to finish.
Downey Jnr also has a massive presence despite his relative cameo in the film. I’ll be incredibly saddened when he decides to end his tie (he’s heavily hinting at it) with a character he’s synonymous with and been playing for over a decade. Tony Stark pretty much plays the mentoring role in the sporadic appearances he has, identifying the huge potential Parker possesses to be a new Avenger, but also recognising the impulsive, immaturity that threatens to be his undoing. Hence why he implements a ‘training wheels’ lock on the suit, which of course Parker discovers, hacks and unlocks, and nearly kills himself along with dozens of others after another showdown (Peter’s persistent) against Vulture on a boat. He brings laughs and almost a disciplinarian father figure to the story and his tough love approach ultimately results in Peter maturing.
I absolutely loved Homecoming. Spider-Man has always been one of my favourite superheroes and I have fond memories of the first two Maguire films in the early naughties. It’s great that Sony, Marvel and Disney have finally resolved their differences to bring this great character into the MCU. It’s not a perfect film, there is one or two small issues. I.e. The unnecessary secretive MJ/Michelle thing. These are unimportant in the grand scheme of things however and do nothing to impede my enjoyment of the story or action that unfolds. The lack of real backstory allows Watts to dive right into said action and the pace, often frenetic, rarely dips throughout. I don’t think there’s been a post credit scene that opens up so many possibilities for future instalments too. The second one is a hilarious continuation of Captain America inspirational videos that pop up throughout.
Easily the best Spider-Man film since 2004’s Spider-Man 2. I still rate that above the 2017 iteration, but nonetheless can’t recommend this film enough.