Spider-Man: Homecoming stars the web head’s third on-screen iteration, is his first solo feature with Marvel at the creative helm and is the best film for the character yet.
Homecoming opens with an origin story for our villain, the Vulture, which simultaneously retcons him into the MCU timeline as a contractor who gets booted off the clean-up of the Battle of New York by Tony Stark’s government financed clean-up crew. Flash eight years later and Vulture is stealing alien technology to create black market weapons for the city of New York. Cut to Spider-Man’s behind the scenes movie of his trip to the Civil War battle in Berlin and we are off. Our hero firmly established and still trying to figure out this whole crime fighting thing while still being a sophomore in high school.
Jon Watts directs his third feature and harnesses Spider-Man: Homecoming’s biggest strengths, its casting and sense of humor. This is probably the most/hardest I’ve laughed at a superhero movie and the film doesn’t lose that side of itself at all across the course of the film. Even the action scenes are peppered with great gags and one liners. I tuned in right to the film’s sense of humor, which was weird and silly in all the right ways. Now, any seasoned Spidey comic reader (that is, not me) would tell you this is how it’s supposed to be, so I think fans of the character are bound to be ecstatic over this latest screen version. The rest of the cast around Peter Parker takes some welcome liberties with casting and everyone is given at least one memorable beat in the film.
Watts weakest element is his action, which I feel like they try to hide in the dark a bit too much. A couple of the sequences are borderline incoherent, though I did appreciate the production design and thought process behind the finale’s dark setting; it could have just been better executed. That said, the daytime action scenes actually look quite excellent and are much easy to stay with. Maybe the screen I saw was just a bit dim? I’m not entirely sure, but even action missteps aside, the film really won me over from start to finish.
I think much of the credit has to be given to Tom Holland’s portrayal as Parker, who is just so damn likable in every frame. The wonder in his eyes, the excitement, the banter, everything just radiates from this kid and I look forward to spending four more movies with him. His supporting cast is great as well, with his right hand man, Jacob Batalon, coming out of nowhere and just killing it alongside Holland. He gets more than a few minutes to shine and he somehow out earnestly excites Holland once he discovers Peter’s alter-ego. Zendaya stars as the loner Michelle, and she made me laugh with every one liner she shoots from the side of the frame. Tony Revolori is hilarious as the “bully” Flash, turning the stereotype jock role of the part on it’s head. Laura Harrier has a nice chemistry with Holland and manages to create a character beyond being the token love interest. Angourie Rice, Abraham Attah and many of the other young cast members round out the high school shenanigans, and everyone just knocks their moments out of the park.
On the adult side of things, Michael Keaton doesn’t get a lot to do other than being an angry bad guy as the Vulture, but he absolutely nails a couple late scenes where he gets to put some of that wild behind his eyes and be scary. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, same applies here. Jon Favreau seems a bit on Happy auto-pilot here, and he feels more shoehorned in than anything. Marisa Tomei’s May is a bit aloof and adorable herself, playing it cool and really selling how she’s doing the best one can in her situation. Also, her line delivery of the film’s final beat, 5 Stars. Hannibal Buress and Martin Starr are underused, I would have loved another scene for each of them, but they are also both hilarious with every line the deliver. The funniest part in the film might go to a fun cameo on a TV though, and be sure to stay all the way through the credits for possibly Marvel’s best stinger yet. Also, shout out to Jennifer Connelly who plays Karen, the voice of Spider-Man’s suit, as she delivers some great deadpan lines.
Spider-Man: Homecoming might not reinvent the character, but it gives us an adventure for Peter Parker that will be hard to top. The villain could have been a bit better, but the film actually pulls everything together quite nicely in the third act. Other than that complaint, and the aforementioned action bumps, I can’t really recommend the film much higher. It’s another great entry in the MCU and I can’t wait to see more of Spider-Man in Infinity War and beyond.