Spider-Man: Homecoming review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
No longer is Spider-Man a solo Sony superhero as he can now play in the same yard as Captain America and Iron Man. Well, almost. Sure, he made his big debut in Captain America: Civil War, but he’s not quite ready to become a full-time member of the Avengers. After all, this is still a Sony movie and Sony’s last outing with Spider-Man was less than stellar. Consider this his trial run.
The good news is that this iteration passes Marvel’s Cinematic Universe standards. This Peter Parker, played by a wide-eyed Tom Holland, has a more chipper and lovable personality, if not a little overly-geeky about working with his heroes. You can’t help but smile at his hyperactive excitement for making a video diary of his Civil War participation like a kid vlogging his first trip to Disney World. Thankfully, he has enough character to bring back down to Earth before his Marvel-gushing launches him to Deadpool levels of insanity.
Parker has a very active high school life with friends, a crush, a bully, a club and parties. His high school time never feels like a day job meant to occupy his time between crime fighting. His equally nerdy friend Ned makes the day more fun with the prospect of building a Death Star with Legos in the evening. His secret love for MJ makes him a little more driven to attend academic decathalon team. Being bullied by Flash Thompson pushes him to define himself a little more.
But once the final bell rings, he slips on the suit and makes his rounds of New York City streets. For being so young, Spider-Man is still wet behind the ears when it comes to being a hero. Despite being well known as the friendly neighborhood superhero who stops bike thieves and car-jackers, he still makes a few missteps that can result in misunderstandings and damages. Tony Stark, reprised by Robert Downey Jr., is aware this kid is not quite ready to take on the likes of Ultron or Thanos, leading to him limiting Spider-Man’s role with the superheroes to a status of “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
With such a distance from the other superheroes, it’s up to Spider-Man to prove himself with the starter mission of foiling the villain of The Vulture. One would think for such an antagonist being portrayed by such a hot talent as Michael Keaton would make this Marvel villain a little more memorable. Unfortunately, he’s the weakest part of the primary cast, unsuccessfully trying to put on a Brooklyn accent. His arc isn’t too interesting as a construction worker turned black market alien arms dealer and the script seems to be aware of this by shying away from most of his story. Why bother explaining why he builds a bulky mechanical flying suit for stealth missions of swiping alien tech from the government? We know it’s an excuse to showcase a costume for The Vulture and probably don’t care for the reasoning.
There are so many fun and witty lines written into this script, most of which take place at the high school, that it’s a shame the action scene aren’t as inspired. The movie’s most elaborate stunt of Spider-Man preventing a ferry from splitting in two bears a striking similarity to the train sequence in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. The fight scenes between The Vulture and Spider-Man are assembled with so much obvious computer graphics it may as well be a cartoon. And while Spider-Man eccentricities for being youngest hero on the scene, it reaches a point where I wished the titular hero would add something big to this Marvel universe rather than gush all about it.
For those who just want a decent version of Spider-Man to play nice with other Marvel characters, Homecoming does deliver on what you’d expect. Those seeking a plucky and likable Peter Parker, far distant from Andrew Garfield’s more inconsistent take, will be satisfied. Those who just want another solid Marvel movie with a handful of big laughs will not be disappointed. And for as much as I enjoyed the playful and light aspect of this movie, I couldn’t help but feel that there should have been something more than just the usual Marvel makeover. Something to ponder after laughing at a gaggle of high school girls having a game of “F, Marry, Kill” on the Avengers.