"Can't you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?"
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is slowly honing his skills and abilities as Spider-Man. Wanting to be more than just a “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man” and prove himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter attempts to foil an underground arms dealer who is using alien technology to create super weapons.
Spider-Man is an interesting property, it’s been adapted into film 3 different times in the past 15 years culminating in 7 film appearances so far. However, the latest iteration of Spidey swinging onto the big screen is a rather unique one because for the first time Marvel Studios finally have the rights back to one of their most beloved characters. Depending on where you sit with the Marvel Cinematic Universe this could either be a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm sure we can all agree that it can’t be worse than Sony’s last efforts.
Marvel was extremely clever with the way they reintroduced the world to cinematic Spider-Man. The small, but memorable, appearance in Captain America: Civil War was enough of a tease of the style and attitude they were prepping us for, leaving most people wanting more. The resulting film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, delivers on everything that was promised from that small sneak peek and brings us the most accurate and endearing performance of Peter Parker yet. It’s just a bit of a shame the film itself turns out to be just another Marvel film.
The film does a wonderful job of introducing the audience to the world of Peter Parker, an awkward high schooler who is dealing with becoming a superhero. Thankfully the film doesn’t retell Peter’s origin story and instead throws us straight into his world post Civil War, creating an interesting narrative of a young man wanting to prove himself. Peter slowly develops throughout the film, growing confident in both himself and his abilities, learning that, for lack of a better term, with great power comes great responsibility. However, as the film rolls into it’s second act it becomes very clear that it really is just another Marvel film, reusing the same genre tropes that have been employed since the first Iron Man film. The beats are enjoyable enough although it would've been nice to see them try something different with this one. Having retained the rights to one of their most beloved characters, and one that finds themselves in a scenario totally unlike any other superhero (still being a high school student), Marvel could have taken a bigger risk story wise with the film and gone for something truly original. That being said, there are some nice twists and turns that come in the films third act that work to keep it fresh and we end up with a relatively fun and entertaining addition to the MCU.
Tom Holland is perfect as Peter Parker, truly embodying the gawky teenager that is the core of the character. He never worries about making a fool of himself in the role and in fact embraces it, helping add to the believability of the character and his age as well as adding some levity to the film. Michael Keaton seems to be having a great time as the villain in the film, playing a grounded, working-class man pushed into extraordinary circumstances and making the best of it. He makes his gruff demeanour seem natural and instinctive to the character rather than an affectation that comes with being a bad guy making his motivations and actions all the more convincing. The supporting cast all do a fine job with the little they have (it truly is Holland’s film) while Downey Jr and Favreau reprise their roles from previous MCU films, fitting back into them comfortably as if they were a well-worn pair of shoes.
Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) does a great job of managing the shifting tone of the film, flowing from the more serious action and drama to the light-hearted hijinks of high-school life. These lighter moments is where the film truly shines, embracing the age of its protagonist and effectively contrasting that with the danger he finds himself in with his superhero alter ego.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is far from revolutionary and, dare I say, probably not even the best Spider-Man adaptation to make it to the big screen (I still love Rami’s Spider-Man 2), but it is really fun. It’s a film with believable and well-rounded characters that elevates an otherwise average superhero film and creates some entertaining escapism that is sure to please fans of the genre.
6.5 out of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan