Spiderman is arguably the most beloved superhero of modern times, and he’s received more film adaptations than any other Marvel hero. More interestingly, every one of those adaptations has been within the last 20 years. Spiderman is very relevant to say the least. Five years ago, it would have been a mini-miracle to see him share the screen with Iron Man. Looks like miracles do happen. Given the time and current layout for the MCU, these films often suffer from the “sequel effect.” This is when the studio jams so much groundwork for a sequel into a film that it doesn’t feel like a complete story. Luckily, Spiderman: Homecoming doesn’t suffer from this problem. It’s a grounded and well-structured story with a lot of heart.
Let’s start with the most important part of any Spiderman film: Spiderman! We’ve now seen three different actors portray Peter Parker, but Tom Holland makes the character all his own. He embodies everything that Spiderman stands for. He may mess up a lot, but his heart is always in the right place. This grounds Homecoming, and creates much smaller stakes than what we are used to from Marvel. Peter is your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. He helps old ladies with directions around town, finds stolen bikes, and hunts down the scary vulture guy selling high-tech weapons in his neighborhood. He brings a welcomed sense of youth to the character that hasn’t been seen in the previous films. However, he never fails to hold a scene, even when he shares it with veteran actors Robert Downey Jr. and Michael Keaton.
This is much more a coming of age story than it is a superhero film. Peter struggles to balance his teenager/school life with his superhero one. These scenes, in particular, are some of the best in the film. It’s a refreshing step back from the larger MCU. The most previous Marvel film, Guardian’s of The Galaxy: Vol 2 saw the fate of the entire galaxy threatened by a celestial being (Probably the highest stakes you can get in a movie). However, in Peter’s case, getting to his academic decathlon and keeping New York safe are equal on his list of priorities. However, Peter’s ultimate goal is to please Tony Stark and join the avengers. There in lies his journey. Like any and all teenagers, Peter is too anxious to grow up. By the time the credits roll, Peter learns that every other part of his life is just as important, and he needs to take some time to just be a teenager. Spiderman: Homecoming is very basic, and street level entry into the MCU. It chooses story and characters over action. While it may not actively build upon the MCU, it still manages to give a lot of depth the universe. Seeing Tony Stark as Peter’s mentor is amazing, considering we watched Tony Stark become Iron Man and learn many lessons that he is trying to pass on to a younger hero. It shows how far this world has come over the past nine years.
One of the weakest aspects of MCU films has often been the villain. However, Michael Keaton’s character, The Vulture, has earned a place on the list of the greatest MCU villains. He is a charming and multifaceted character. Marvel opted to use the entire opening sequence as a mini-origin story for The Vulture, and it worked beautifully. Immediately we are introduced to his character, and we see that he’s not necessarily a villain; he is a man who will do whatever he has to for his family. Moreover, Keaton never disappoints; he can steal the scene, but also shares it well with Tom Holland. One scene in particular features both of the actors merely conversing, yet it is one of the tensest scenes in any Marvel film to date.
Spiderman Homecoming is a great addition to the MCU and welcomed iteration of our friendly neighborhood Spiderman. It takes a small step back and reminds us that there are still smaller stories to tell in this universe. Spidey still has a long way to go before he’s an avenger, but he’s on the right track.
Our Score: 9/10