Spider-Man: Homecoming – a belated review

spidermanhomecoming

 

I’ve wanted to watch Spider-Man: Homecoming even before it came out in the theaters, back when Spider-Man was just making a cameo appearance in Captain America: Civil War. I almost saw it in the theater, but on the day I intended to see it, my granddaughter Taylee talked me into watching Wonder Woman with her instead. I don’t regret the decision. So, it’s been on the list and I finally got around to it.

Other movies on the list I still haven’t watched: Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. I know: I’m no trendsetter here. In my defense, I have been busy with other things.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is still my favorite movie (so far) featuring the webslinger, but Spider-Man: Homecoming takes a close second. That’s ahead of Spider-Man 2 and 3. I haven’t seen the “Amazing” movies, and at present I’m not planning to. There are some elements to the movie that I like more than the original. Web-shooters are back, instead of the organically produced webs from the first movie (ick). Peter Parker is a high school kid again. This isn’t another origin story, for which I’m eternally grateful. Plus, Spider-Man finally exists in a world where Iron Man and the other Avengers (plus Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy) exist. I can hardly wait for the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to receive the same “homecoming.”

I liked Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He brings the same “dorkiness” to the role that Tobey Maguire did in the first movie while managing to seem closer to the actual age he’s playing. He’s one in a long line of English actors playing American, but he does a great job. His Spider-Man seems more like the Ditko Spider-Man than the John Romita Spider-Man. In good shape without being bulky and overly-muscular. More boy than man, actually, which is truly hearkening back to the original Lee/Ditko stories.

Peter Parker’s surrounding class at school is also great. Zendaya plays Michelle, the dark somewhat-misfit girl who we find out later goes by the nickname “MJ,” which is a not-too-subtle comic book reference. Her character plays more like the Ally Sheedy character in John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club. Jacob Batalon is Ned Leeds, Peter’s best friend, who becomes Spider-Man’s “man in the chair” before the end of the movie. Laura Harrier is Liz, Peter’s primary love interest in this movie, while Tony Revolori is Flash Thompson, Peter’s main school nemesis. The movie has a racially diverse cast, unlike the original comic book, and I welcome the change.

I also applaud Marisa Tomei being cast as Aunt May. It makes sense that Peter’s aunt would be younger than she was always depicted in the comics. And, of course, I’ve liked Tomei since My Cousin Vinny, so I wouldn’t have complained if she had played the role of Happy Hogan, although it was great to see Jon Favreau back in that role again.

Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture was inspired casting, and Keaton brought an additional sense of weight to a role that could have become over-the-top cartoony. I was originally concerned when I heard that the Vulture would be the main villain of this movie. He was never one of my favorite Spider-Man foils. An old guy in a bird suit. This iteration of the Vulture was menacing, effective, and often terrifying. I even like how Toomes is linked to the Avengers and the alien tech from those movies. His motivation is also understandable, if not forgivable. The reveal that he was Liz’ father, and the tense conversation between him and Peter in the car, out of their respective suits, was just handled superbly. I loved all of the special effects and the full-on CGI battles between Spider-Man and the Vulture, but this may have just been my favorite scene between the two actors.

While I genuinely like the way the spider suit is tied to Stark Industries, forever linking this version of Spider-Man to Tony Stark/Iron Man and the Avengers, I don’t really like that the suit becomes just a teenager version of the Iron Man suit. I like Spidey with just a bit less tech, or only the tech that Peter creates himself. This is a minor complaint, however.

The ending of the movie was never truly in doubt. But, it was satisfying. I even like the fact that Peter ends up turning down Stark’s official offer to join the Avengers. I’ve always thought Spider-Man worked better alone or in small team-ups.

Good movie. Well worth the wait. And now I’m looking forward to more.

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