Released: 7th July 2017
Dir: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Robert Downey Jr.
Run Time: 2hr 13min
I think it’s fair to say, it’s been a good couple of years for Marvel. Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange were huge hits for 2016 on the big screen, not to mention the highly successful second season of Daredevil and the debut of Luke Cage over on Netflix. Back in 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 has surpassed expectations with countless positive reviews and set up what can only be an incredible year of Marvel movies. So, it’s fairly understandable why I went into Spiderman: Homecoming with very little fear. I knew that this was going to be huge. Already on a high following the Thor: Ragnarok and Defenders trailers, the minute I heard the Spiderman theme playing over the Marvel opening credit, I suddenly had a flashback to 2015. Me, waiting for The Force Awakens to start and finally hearing that notorious score playing over the opening crawl of a new era of Star Wars movies. I remember the goose bumps, I remember just thinking “…Yes”. And that’s exactly the feeling I got when Homecoming began. (Caution: Spoilers ahead!)
The main thing we were promised with this new wave of Spiderman movies was that we were almost going back to basics. For me, Homecoming felt like a film about a struggling sophomore who just also happened to have superpowers. The intro alone set this idea up from the off; the idea of vlogging a superhero battle is an inherently teenage thing to do. The plot focused entirely on Peter. Not Spiderman; Peter. Without discrediting Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield’s takes on this character in any way, I just feel as though this film brought Peter to the forefront, and gave the audience a real insight into who he is when he’s not Spidey. Nothing to do with the actors; everything to do with the writers. The amount of time we spent with Peter at school and just doing… proper teenage things was something we’ve never really seen before, and that is how Homecoming can be set apart from its predecessors. It’s a teen movie. Yeah, sure, Robert Downey Jr. is in it as a sort of reminder that this is an Avengers movie, but predominantly, it’s a teen movie. Tony was hardly even in it, which is probably for the best. This was Tom Holland’s first solo outing as Spidey, and he needed to prove he could shine without all these massive, A-list actors to bounce off of, so giving Downey Jr. less screen time was a hell of a smart move.
Probably my favourite part of this plot was how Spidey was made to seem kind of… Weak? I know, it’s a strange thing to enjoy, he’s supposed to be a superhero after all, but hear me out. He’s just a kid. He’s 15 years old, he’s not had these powers for very long, he’s still learning, and the film really played upon that. This is the trouble I’ve had with previous Marvel movies; take The First Avenger, for example. Now, in case you didn’t know, I love this film. I love everything about this film. Well, not quite everything. My main gripe is that Steve undergoes this huge, massive operation-like event, and manages to walk away from it like it was a mere injection. Yeah, I know, immune system is boosted, blah blah blah, but come on. How does he instantly know how to do everything he does in the following chase scene? It takes Steve all of a minute to understand his new-found abilities, whereas with Homecoming, we’re taken on Peter’s journey as he realises his full capabilities. A rarely seen sight is a superhero doubting their own skills, doubting whether they are actually a superhero. But about half an hour to the end of the film, when Peter was stuck under all that rubble, that’s exactly what we got. Another awesome thing I need to point out before I move on – Spidey defeated the bad guy in that shitty little suit he made himself. He didn’t need Stark’s fancy, hyped up number; he just needed a bit of self-belief. Hm, maybe Tony’s “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it” really did pay off.
If you know me, you know that characterisation is the first thing I look for. I want to believe the characters, I want to relate to them on every possible level. And yes, to a degree, this responsibility lies with the writers, but for the most part, this comes from the actor’s take on the material and character they’re given. After seeing Tom in Civil War, I had really high hopes. The scene in which Tony first travels to Queens to meet Peter was one of the best in the film. The dialogue was great, and Tom pitched Peter perfectly. I believed him and everything he said. This, clearly, was a good start to his MCU journey. I loved both Tobey and Andrew’s takes on Spidey, and I was left wondering exactly how Tom was going to be any different. Was it going to be anything more than that he just looks younger? Hell yeah, it was. Yes, Tom being 21 and still having quite boyish looks helped immensely in terms of believability; he was cast perfectly for that. For me, the jury is still out on whether he actually looked ‘nerdy’ enough to be a complete social outcast, but whatever. Tom took the plot that he was given and he ran with it. The different ways in which he interacts with the different part of his life, signified by the main people in his life (Aunt May, Tony and Ned), prove how multi-layered this character is. He isn’t just a teenager out for revenge on the guy who killed his uncle. This is a new Peter Parker, and a new Spiderman. Honestly, I feel as though Tom Holland was put on this earth solely to play Peter. He nailed that characterisation better than I’ve ever seen. Mark my words, this is only the start for him as an actor.
In terms of other characters in the film… Anyone slightly let down by the lack of and irrelevance of Zendaya’s Michelle? She was sassy and… that’s about it. This is a girl they’ve used to sell this movie to people. Zendaya’s fans are going to rock up to movie theatres, ready to see their idol in this huge film… And she’s barely in it. Let’s be honest, none of the females in this movie had too much to do. Liz was just a love interest (although, a love interest that fuelled Peter’s actions towards the end of the movie), and Aunt May just acted as a reminder that he’s still a kid. Knowing there’s a sequel is setting my mind slightly to rest; please give Zendaya something more to do. This is a classic “Brad Pitt in Snatch” scenario; used to sell a movie, but barely in it. Then again, this can only mean that Peter had more screen time, meaning we actually got to know our hero a little better than usual.
The same can also be said for Robert Downey Jr., to an extent. How much did he appear in those trailers? There was uproar about him being far too prominent in the film, and in actual fact, he just… Wasn’t. He was a marketing tool, just as Zendaya was. Although, Tony did have an effect on the outcome of this film. In taking Peter’s suit away from him, Tony unknowingly acted as the best mentor he could have. He never had a mentor, he never had someone to believe in him (although, arguably, Rhodey always did). He knew he needed Peter to realise that he didn’t need the suit to be a hero, because no one ever taught Tony himself that, which lead to a lot of collateral damage. Damn, that was mushy.
I also have to give props to Jacob Batalon’s Ned. Easily the best ‘side-kick’ we’ve seen since Sam Wilson was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He had so many great lines, and, unlike the rest of the teenagers, he was actually kind of relevant to the story. Every superhero needs a right-hand-man, a “guy in the chair” and Ned was perfect.
I’ve rambled on really far without even mentioning the name Michael Keaton. If I was certain on anything going into this film, it was that he’d be an excellent antagonist. And I was right. We all know Marvel have slight troubles with their villains, but just recently, they’ve started to correct this; Civil War’s Zemo and Guardians Vol. 2’s Ego spring to mind. Like with Peter, I really believed Toomes. I understood his motivations (to an extent) and I believed his anger. I say to an extent, because… Would you really kill a kid? I didn’t think it was an empty threat, I fully believed that he would kill Peter to protect his secret. But… Come on, man. Imagine if his daughter had found out that he’d killed Peter Parker, that’d be far worse than her discovering he makes weapons out of weird alien metal. All in all, although some of it was slightly questionable, Keaton excelled, as he usually does. He’s worthy of the title ‘villain’. Keep up this trend, Marvel.
Now, I’d just quickly like to take a look at how Homecoming fits into the wider MCU. Unlike what we were given with solo films in phase one, Peter’s first solo outing was littered with previously seen characters. While Tony and Happy were instrumental in the narrative and took on more serious roles, our loveable all-American hero (now vigilante) Cap was on hand as comic relief (don’t get me started on that after-credit scene). And, as my overjoyed gasp in the cinema let on, I was only too happy to see Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper back where she belongs. But… was there someone missing from this film? Marvel fans went into overdrive when it was revealed that the new Spidey film was to be subtitled ‘homecoming’. Oh my God! That’s one of Bucky’s trigger words! Could he be in an after-credit scene? Nothing of the sort. Nothing short of a red herring. Homecoming genuinely just meant… a homecoming dance. Again, proving that this, above all, is a teen movie. This also meant that there was no wider link to Infinity War. Peter refused his place in the Avengers, and went home. That was that. However, we do know he’ll be back, as evidenced by Tom Holland being seen on set with RDJ and Chris Pratt. So, Tony’s ready to drag Peter into a massive space war because he defeated one bad guy? A* dad skills, Stark. Anyway, I’m not saying that no link is a bad thing; we’ve since been informed that Ragnarok will lead directly into Infinity War, so that’s clearly the one to watch for links. I’m already counting down the days.
Okay, that was long and I’m sorry. Can you tell I loved that movie? Because I did. My faith in Tom Holland paid off, as I knew it would. This is a new age of Spidey, and I am so, so here for it.
Other Awesome Things:
- The good ‘ol Marvel shocks were great – Pepper’s reappearance worked well and I would’ve fallen off my chair at the reveal of Toomes being Liz’s father if I hadn’t already accidentally come across a spoiler.
- Peter not killing Toomes at the end was perfect. He’s 15. He’s just a boy, he couldn’t kill anyone, especially not the father of the girl he loves.
- The opening vlog is definitely a stand-out scene. It set up the whole tone of the film.
- The guy on the ferry ‘wooing’ for whatever superhero arrived to save him got me thinking “Damn, that’s me”.
- The Washington Monument scene was art. Enough said.
- “Suit Lady” Karen was comedy gold. Side note, I think she’s slightly in love with Peter. Or programmed to boost his ego. She was made by Stark, so it’s probably the latter.