Despite being the massive success they are today, comic-book movies haven’t always had it so easy. DC started well in 1978 with Richard Donner’s classic Superman and Tim Burton’s take on the caped crusader in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) and obviously these are two of the most popular superheroes of all time but Marvel had some serious catching up to do (let’s all agree to never mention Captain America in 1990).
The first real sign of promise for Marvel was much later in 1998 with the release of Blade, a dark Rated-R adventure featuring the much-beloved performance of Wesley Snipes as everyone’s favourite vampire hunting Daywalker. It was fun, violent and more importantly, successful yet its rating meant it still wouldn’t reach the child and young teen demographic. It wasn’t until a certain Bryan Singer came along with his hugely successful X-Men in 2000 that Hollywood realised these colourful and often goofy comic book characters could be put into a movie, taken seriously and of course, make loads of money.
Long before anyone knew what an MCU was, Sony had already nailed the perfect superhero movie. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man showed that Sony had a huge property on their hands and plans were immediately made for a sequel and this resulted in one of the greatest comic-book movies of all time with Spider-Man 2. The movie that set the bar for superhero movies, long before The Dark Knight. This sadly was also the best a Spider-Man movie would be for over a decade.
But no longer.
Spider-Man: Homecoming marks a fantastic return to form for the Webslinger and fits him snuggly among his fellow Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We’ve previously seen Marvel dabble in many genres, from espionage thriller in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, cosmic space adventure in Guardians of The Galaxy and comedic heist caper in Ant-Man. Homecoming is Marvel delving into straight up John Hughes territory. Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with a dash of The Breakfast Club but with more web-swinging and crime-fighting.
Directed delightfully and full of energy by Jon Watts, (who previously directed fairly unknown indie flick Cop Car) the best part of Homecoming is the absolutely perfect understanding of who Peter Parker is and why he has always been my personal favourite hero. Peter is all of us. He can lift a car with his bare hands but he’s made fun of and unpopular in school. He can swing from skyscraper to skyscraper but he can’t find the courage to ask a girl out that he likes. Peter is just a normal teenager outside of his costume and one of the things that endeared me to the movie most was that just like any teenager would, Peter actually loves being Spider-Man. He sits in class all day watching the clock tick, just dying to suit up and go explore the city, helping whoever he can. It’s his pure innocence, selflessness and youthful enthusiasm that makes him a great character. Of course, he is only 15 and mistakes will be made but not for lack of trying. He may not be the complete package yet as a hero but he gets an A+ for effort.
Tom Holland nails the American accent and completely convinces with the physical aspect of the role and is just plain lovable and I can imagine him becoming the main character of the MCU once Marvel begins to plan ahead of Avengers: Infinity War
This is thankfully not an origin story.From the get go Peter is Spider-Man and the film is immediately better for it. We all know he was bitten by a spider, let’s move on. We pick up several months after the event of Civil War and Peter is getting restless dealing with basic street-level crimes and unsuccessfully begs his disgruntled guardian Happy Hogan, assigned by would-be-mentor Tony Stark, for his next ‘big mission’ while trying to balance his personal life.
It’s been well-known that apart from Loki and possibly Red Skull, Marvel haven’t had many memorable villains but time is spent giving Michael Keaton’s Vulture a reason to delve into a world of crime. At his core he is a family man, much like Peter. You understand where he is coming from and he becomes increasingly menacing throughout the movie without becoming too cheesy or over-the-top and his suit actually looks cool and practical and avoids the old man in a bird suit look from the comics
A lot of time is spent showing Peter in high school and the supporting cast mostly does a great job. Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) gets a lot of screen time and provides a lot of laughs and has great chemistry with Holland in a believable friendship which I hope we see more of in future instalments. Other classmates such as Liz (Laura Harrier) and Flash (Tony Revolori) are handled well and the young cast do a great job acting alongside each other and really contributes to the school atmosphere in the film.
If you’ve seen any of the advertising for this film, you’ll be well aware that Robert Downey Jr. appears as Tony Stark and coaches Peter on becoming a hero (slightly ironic coming from the man who built his fortune as a weapon-dealer *cough cough*) and naturally he is highly entertaining and works perfectly alongside Holland and gets plenty of funny dialogue especially when Happy Hogan is involved.
As for negatives, I have very few complaints. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May is featured very little and isn’t given much to do as well as Zendaya’s character Michelle who I thought was completely underutilized but hopefully she is fleshed out more in the sequel because she is a talented actress with a lot to offer
Overall, Homecoming is a fantastic return for the Webslinger, with a sharp script, endearing characters, great action with a memorable villain and plenty of MCU easter eggs for fans. It’s not focused on setting up future sequel, it is a great movie on its own which a lot of recent comic book movies forget to do. Despite being a completely bias Spider-Man fan, it’s one of my favourites of the year and I can’t wait to see where Spidey ends up next.
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