Lifelong Spider-Fan that I am, Civil War’s Spidey appearance easily became one of the movie’s highlight’s for me. Just seeing him quip at the heroes on both sides and showcasing his not-inconsiderable strength is a treat enough, and now we get a new Spider-Man movie? After the ambitious-yet-messy The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the prospect of a(nother) reboot is both salivating and cause to worry.
Fortunately, after watching Spider-Man Homecoming, those worries are now long-gone. The tone director Jon Watts went for is a newbie Spidey who still needs to learn a lot about the job, resulting in an occasionally stupid and klutzy hero not unlike Batman: Earth One. It’s frustrating at times, but through this we get to learn along with Spidey about how to be a hero. Most of you will be refreshed in knowing that Uncle Ben isn’t shown dying in this one, saving him from the Thomas and Martha Wayne curse of dying in every reboot.
My biggest worry going in, that the movie would turn into Iron Man and His Amazing Friend, fortunately went unrealized. Tony Stark’s screentime is limited, but he adds to the movie by providing a ‘hurdle’ for Peter to surpass in the journey to become a hero.
The cast is great all-around, with the Midtown High kids lending the movie a very teen-movie feel to the school sequences. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is Ganke in all but name, playing off really well with Tom Holland’s Peter as believeable best friends. Being so used to the jock Flash, Tony Revolori’s ‘cyberbully’ Flash is still an asshole, albeit a different kind. For those familiar with the anime/manga Doraemon, this Flash is less Giant, more Suneo. Still, he’s the guy you’ll love to hate. Zendaya’s Michelle is the movie’s Allison Reynolds, a mysterious loner with a sharp tongue who provides more than a few gags. Laura Harrier’s Liz, while she’s not the most memorable of the bunch, still plays well with the other kids. May is still the loving aunt we all know and love, though she’s much more spirited this time around and has fun interactions with Pete and Ned. Happy Hogan unexpectedly ends up being a potential showstealer in his role as Peter’s ever-exasperated minder.
In terms of bad guy quality, Homecoming is one of MCU’s best. Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is far from the one-dimensional disposable MCU villain that we’ve unfortunately seen all too often, and is one of the movie’s highlights. Michael Mando, who some of you might know as Far Cry 3’s Vaas almost steals the show in his limited screentime as another Spider-Rogue, and I hope he’ll be given more to do in the future. Donald Glover is entertaining as hell in his role as another player in the Spider-mythology, especially his one standout scene. And most shocking of all, the Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine as Herman Schultz) is somewhat more competent compared to the punchline he’s been made of in recent comics.
Setting this movie in a high school setting puts emphasis on the duality between Peter Parker and Spider-Man, showing his struggles in juggling between social life, school, and Spidering in a new light. This duality and Peter proving himself to be the hero that he could be is a major, timeless theme that’s true to the core of Spider-Man.
Spider-Fans with eagle eyes will have a field day with the amount of easter eggs and homages to classic moments and even some iconic shots of the Wallcrawler from his extensive comics history. While I wouldn’t say that Homecoming is 100% comics-accurate, it honors the spirit of Spider-Man in its sort-of reinvention, like another update on the Spider-myth a la Ultimate Spider-Man, with more than a few influences from classic teen movies and modern superhero movie sensibilities.
While it is by no means a perfect movie with some bits feeling a little draggy and a little anticlimactic though unconventional final act, Spider-Man Homecoming is still an amazing movie that spectacularly heralds the arrival of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the MCU, hopefully being the first in a web of great movies in the future.