Rewind back to February 2015 when the world was hit with the news that Sony & Marvel had reached a deal to share the rights to Spider-Man. I was a fan in two minds. Of course I was ecstatic that Spidey would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, I was disappointed that ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ series was being discontinued and that Andrew Garfield would be hanging up his web-shooters for good. Fast forward to May 2016, fans were treated to one of the best superhero film scenes of all time in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ in which newly cast Tom Holland’s Spidey played a major role. This scene confirmed that Spider-Man belongs in this universe and all my disappointments faded away faster than the chance of J. Jonah Jameson paying Peter Parker a fair wage. One year later and Spidey’s first solo outing in the big bad MCU is here, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, and about time to.
I think all of our spider senses were tingling in the best way possible when we saw Tom Holland’s debut in ‘Civil War’, many claiming he gave the best portrayal of the character in his mere minutes on screen compared to the previous actors numerous films. ‘Homecoming’ is the first feature length performance from the twenty one year old, in which he does nothing but confirm the inspired casting. He nails both elements of the performance. For the first time ever on the big screen it’s actually believable that the actor portraying Parker could also be of high school age. Furthermore he excels when he’s wearing the mask and fighting the bad guys. Speaking of which, bringing Spider-Man into the MCU was the perfect opportunity for Marvel to solve their weak villain problem. Spidey has made plenty of enemies over the years, many of which he’s fought on the big screen. However, the writers of ‘Homecoming’ opted to include one we hadn’t seen before, Vulture. Portrayed by Michael Keaton there was massive potential for this character to be one of the best villains to date. Keaton’s performance is playfully menacing but the writers are still struggling with these characters as his motivations just weren’t strong enough to make him really memorable.
‘Homecoming’ is the first Spider-Man film we’ve seen which is part of a cinematic universe, and for some this might take a bit of getting used to. Many of the characters previously portrayed on screen feature here once more but quite far apart from what fans might expect. Peter’s high school friends are one example of this, with the Vulture being another. Spidey also doesn’t get all of the lime light, he’s not the only superhero in his world and there’s no escaping this with references galore to the films previous. Many of these are really fun, some even being joyous but there was maybe an over reliance on these. As you might of noticed from the posters Iron Man features here. He’s not quite a double act with Spider-Man but he’s got enough of a presence to be a major part of the movie. At times I liked his involvement, at others I didn’t. Saying that, he adds far more to this installment than he detracts from it. Robert Downey Jr. is his usual brilliant self as Tony Stark and he has a fantastic chemistry with Peter, showing really mature character development.
If you get Iron Man, you also get gadgets. This is easily the most tech heavy Spidey film to date. It makes complete sense in the grander scale of the MCU but this is another element to the film that might slightly distract. Nonetheless, this element is handled very well so it’s not necessarily a bad distraction. It’s employed wonderfully within the action sequences which are generally a blast to watch. The highlight is easily the Washington Monument sequence at around the halfway mark of the film. Action aside the best thing about the movie is the grounded character driven narrative. Take away all the gadgets, bad guys & superhero teams and ‘Homecoming’ is actually a really cool coming of age story. Audiences are spared the familiar origin story in place of the far more interesting aftermath. The human drama present here is some of the strongest we’ve seen yet from the MCU. Thanks to Holland’s performance, the chemistry between Peter & Stark and his caring (and de-aging) Aunt May it holds a certain emotional weight. Watching Peter try to balance his, home, school and new found superhero life is genuinely interesting and worth engaging in. If emotion isn’t your thing don’t worry though as it also features Marvel’s trademark comic relief with it’s very own brand of Spidey comedy. Only contributing further to this is the after credits scene. You know the drill by now, stay in your seats, this one made me laugh a lot.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is another marvelous film by a studio which rarely drops the ball. Fans enjoyment might hinge on the portrayal of characters in some instances, however the performances are good regardless so repeat viewings should help solve any issues with expectations. The action, heart and comedy all hit too which will surely make this an MCU favourite for many. Thanks to Tom Holland’s performance it seems third times a charm, we seem to have our Spider-Man that will finally stick.
Rating – 8/10
Question: How would you rank the six Spider-Man films?
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