Before we begin, I want to take time and dedicate this review to Joan Boocock Lee, Stan Lee’s loving wife of 70 years, who passed away Thursday of last week. This woman is the most important person in comics and superheroes. Why? Without her, Marvel as we know it wouldn’t exist. There was a time when Stan Lee wanted to quit writing comics because he wanted to change careers. This was the early 60s and at the time, DC Comics were seeing a lot of success with the superhero genre thanks to new takes on their classic superheroes. Stan Lee was assigned by publisher Martin Goodman to create a superhero team. It was Joan who encouraged Stan to write the stories he wanted to make. He took that advice to create the Fantastic Four, which was a huge success and opened the floodgates for other Marvel superheroes such as Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, and of course, Spider-Man. All of this because of Joan. So I just want to give my thanks to her for being Stan’s rock, for giving us so many characters that we know and love. You will be missed. And condolences to the Lee family. Now onto Spider-Man. Ever since his debut in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man has been an icon of superheroes for 55 years, matching Batman and Superman in terms of popularity. What makes him appealing to a lot of people, myself included, is that he’s an everyman with flaws and problems like a lot of us. He has bad luck with finances and a social life, which is made harder by a responsibility as a superhero. In Sony’s film adaptations, we’ve seen fragments of everything that makes the character great. The first two Spider-Man movies from 2002 and 2004 directed by Sam Raimi are comic book movie classics in spite of some cheesy, cringey moments. In 2007, Spider-Man 3 broke the momentum, disappointing fans with clunky writing, Emo Peter, and a super-lame portrayal of Venom. 5 years after, Sony rebooted the series with The Amazing Spider-Man, directed by Marc Webb. That movie was okay for the most part, but it’s plot was a blatant rehash of the first Sam Raimi movie. Then there’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is on the same level of badness as 3. It wasn’t even a movie, it was several plotlines sewn together along with teasers to films that will never happen. I might review that movie one day because there is a lot to talk about. That movie pretty much killed whatever plans Sony had to start a cinematic universe around Spider-Man in a move to compete with Marvel Studios. Alas, in 2015, it was announced that Sony and Marvel Studios made a deal to share the rights of the character, meaning he can now appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man made his MCU debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War (played by Tom Holland) to near-universal praise. This brings us to the subject of today’s review. This is Spider-Man: Homecoming.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker continues to balance his life as a high school student and being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. One day, he comes across some crooks possessing strange advanced technology and this puts him into a collision with the vicious Vulture. The filmmakers made it clear that this version of Spider-Man was going to be different from the other incarnations. For one, they don’t rehash the origin story, which is for the best because at this point, everyone knows why Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man: he gets bit by a radioactive spider, he get spider powers, he becomes selfish, Uncle Ben dies, with great power comes great responsibility, etc. We’ve seen this before twice. Also, the story is focused on a teenage Peter Parker in his sophomore year in high school, which presents the MCU another style for the story. There’s still Easter eggs and references to the Avengers and the MCU as a whole, but the stakes are much smaller. Like I said before, not every threat needs to be world-ending.
I’m gonna spend a good amount of time talking characters, so let’s begin with our titular hero. I once stated that Tom Holland is a better Spider-Man than both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield and I still stand by that statement. He’s like the perfect marriage of the best parts of the latter two actors and he manages to put his own twist to the character. Tobey was a good Peter Parker, Andrew was a good Spider-Man, Tom Holland is good at both roles. He can play the awkward geek and wise-cracking superhero and be believable while playing those roles. One of the big concerns of this movie is the presence of Iron Man, mainly that people were worried he was gonna take up too much time. It’s easy to feel that way since he is featured a lot in the marketing and he’s on nearly every poster. On one hand, I get it: he’s the flagship of the MCU and his star power will bring more butts to the seats. So it kinda make sense to bring in a big name superhero. On the other hand, this is friggin’ Spider-Man. This isn’t Ant-Man or Guardians Of The Galaxy who were relatively unknown to general movie audiences before their films, this is a character who was and still is Marvel’s biggest name for a LONG time, who had 5 theatrical films. People who’ve never read a comic book in their entire life knows who Spider-Man is. He doesn’t need help bringing in people. As entertaining as Robert Downey Jr. can be, that can present a problem. Well, I have good news: Iron Man isn’t in Spider-Man: Homecoming as much as the advertising would have you believe. Tony Stark serves the role as Peter’s mentor, giving him a new suit that’s technologically advanced with its own A.I. and different types of webbing and giving him advice on being a hero in the Tony Stark way. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) serves a bridge between Tony and Peter, keeping an eye on the latter when the former is doing… whatever he does. There’s also a bit of symbolism here. Kevin Feige has said that Spider-Man will be the most important character for the post-Avengers Phase 4 of the MCU, so to have Spidey be mentored by the guy who started the MCU is an obvious passing of the torch.
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes A.K.A. the Vulture. Holy shit, was this perfect casting. Batman playing a Spider-Man villain. Marvel has been slowly, but surely fixing their villain problem since Civil War and Vulture might be the best MCU villain since Loki. And he’s also the most complex. Toomes is a working-class citizen who worked at a salvage company cleaning up the mess after the Battle of New York during the first Avengers movie, but then he was put out of business by Tony Stark’s Damage Control department. Ever since then, he and his coworkers have been running a black market of alien tech stolen from Damage Control, selling weapons to criminals and creating gadgets for themselves. Toomes doesn’t want to take over the world, he just wants to make an honest living, even if the means to achieve his goals are criminal, and you understand where he’s coming from. And the Vulture costume. Dear sweet Lord. Props to Marvel for taking a character wearing something this silly…
… and have them look intimidating like this.
Other villains make an appearance in this movie like there’s two versions of the Shocker. There’s also the Tinkerer, Mac Gargan, who’s the civilian identity of the Scorpion, and Donald Glover plays Aaron Davis, who is also known as the Prowler from the Ultimate Marvel Universe. In the movie, he mentions that he has a nephew in the city, which is a reference to Miles Morales, who’s also Spider-Man (that’s a whole different story that I won’t dive into). Now for the other characters. There was some big controversy surrounding the rest of the cast because some of them happened to be a different ethnicity from the source material. Peter’s best friend, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) is Asian and a copy of Ganke, Miles Morales’ best friend. Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) is a Hispanic rich kid instead of a blond white jock. Peter’s crush, Liz Allan (Laura Harrier), is black and *PLOT TWIST* is also Adrian Toomes’ daughter so that would make her mixed.
And then there’s Zendaya as Michelle. For so long, it was rumored that Zendaya was playing Mary Jane Watson, who is one of Peter’s crushes. The closeted racist side of the comic book fandom did not take kindly to this along with the previous three actors I mentioned, going full, “SJW POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS RUINING MARVEL!!” Guys, let me put this to bed: ZENDAYA IS NOT PLAYING MARY JANE!! Kevin Feige made it clear that even though Michelle’s nickname is MJ, she’s not Mary Jane. If she really WAS Mary Jane, who gives a flying crap? She may not look like the character, but I like her a lot more than Kirsten Dunst in the Raimi films. She has actual personality. She has that Daria vibe to her where she’s not that social and she’s observant. I really like her. Marisa Tomei plays Aunt May, who’s much younger and hotter than the previous Aunt Mays, which I don’t have a problem with. I always found it weird that Aunt May has always been portrayed as an elderly woman. She seemed less like an aunt and more like a grandmother. I wish we could’ve gotten more scene with her, but I like the rest of the film enough that I can overlook it.
Any comparisons to the Raimi and Webb movies are completely moot because Homecoming is its own beast. For one, it’s the funniest Spider-Man. The humor is damn near at the same level as Guardians Of The Galaxy for how many jokes land. The movie ends in the funniest way possible when Aunt May finds out Peter is Spider-Man. A huge influence of this film was John Hughes and it has that Breakfast Club/Ferris Bueller vibe to it. This is another example of Marvel Studios taking their usual formula and doing something different to it. The movie isn’t action-heavy, but we get some cool action scenes like whenever Vulture is in-gear and the ferry scene, which got spoiled by the trailers. It’s not as bad as the Doomsday reveal in one of the trailers for Batman v Superman, but they could’ve held off on that. That way, seeing Peter struggling to hold the ferry apart after it was split in two when Iron Man comes to the rescue and then Tony scolds Peter afterwards and takes away his suit would’ve had more impact.
I give Spider-Man: Homecoming a 9/10. This is the best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2. Hell, I might even say that it’s the best Spider-Man movie period. It’s hilarious, it’s charming, it’s hopeful, and it’s got great acting and action. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s the Spider-Man movie fans have all been waiting on. I can’t wait to see more of Tom Holland in the MCU. Comic book movies this year have all been spectacular. Both Marvel and DC (and Fox) have been knocking them out the part in 2017. Let’s hope Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League end things on a high note. Kingsman: The Golden Circe also looks great. There’s also Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, which look okay according to reviews. Either way, this is a good time to be a comic book fan.