A shining cog in the machine.
Being our third portrayal of Spider-Man in the last few years, I have been impatiently waiting for someone to get the essence of Spidey right.
(Sorry Tobes, but no).
I can happily say that after seeing Homecoming that Disney has produced an honest, unique, and enjoyable portrayal of Spider-man as a starry-eyed kid who is balancing high school life with being a superhero.
High flying action, high school troubles.
Perhaps the freshest part of the film is the fact that it’s a serviceable high school comedy. Peter is a charming geek who has love interests, classes, and needs a date for homecoming. He deals with bullies, parties, and detention, all while web-slinging the streets of Queens at night. A diverse supporting cast of students adds to the vibe – mainly Jacob Batalon, who is hilarious as Ned, Peter’s best friend and his “man in the chair”.
While Peter goes through the school year, he is also participating in the “Stark Internship”, a.k.a. fighting crime on the streets under Tony Stark’s supervision. He begins to unfoil a plot about dangerous arms dealers and begs Tony to give him more freedom, but Stark refuses. What ensues is a long, fast-paced, twisting game of cat-and-mouse between Peter and Vulture (Michael Keaton), a blue-collar worker who was wronged by Stark and now wants revenge.
The film balances comedy, coming-of-age, and action beautifully, and you’ll probably find yourself laughing, holding your seat, and feeling the feels in the same scene.
Tom Holland is a godsend.
Holland, a relatively new British actor, is one of the main reasons the film works. He is charming, boyish, and innocent, while at the same time inspiring. His quips and comedic timing are perfect, and he balances the humor and grit of Peter Parker better than Maguire or Garfield.
Vulture, the villain, is an above-average character with some depth, raised by Michael Keaton’s performance. Vulture is far from an upper-echelon villain, but he works nicely in the film.
Spider-man’s story is changed quite a bit.
I’m no purist when it comes to changing things up – I encourage the twisting of stories and tropes to fit the movie’s needs. Hardcore Spidey/comic book fans might be less than happy, though, with some of the changes that were obviously meant to fit this movie in the MCU. Spider-man’s suit is overwhelmingly high tech (which they accommodate with the “if you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it” idea) and a few of the classic characters are diminished or not present at all. Harry Osborne is gone, and “MJ” has a bit role. This didn’t bother me, as it’s really meant to segue into the “Avengers” franchise, but here’s a fair warning.
That being said, while the film doesn’t hit every traditional Spider-man chapter, it captures the feel and essence perfectly. It’s not a perfect movie, and it’s obviously a small part in the Marvel machine, but it’s a great time. It continues the tradition of Marvel movies that go in new directions while making perfect sense in the MCU.
It’s a riotous coming-of-age story that’s seen best on the big screen.