After six films and three iterations of the character, Spider-Man has finally found his way home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Spider-Man: Homecoming. As much as we’d like to forget about the disaster that was Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), there was a valuable lesson to be taken from its crash: when in doubt, let Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios fix your mess. After Feige and Marvel Studios were able to construct a deal with Sony in 2015 (which allowed usage of Spider-Man in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe), the build up for the web slinger’s PROPER return to the big screen begun. In Captain America: Civil War (2016), fans were introduced to the new and improved Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and the response was overwhelmingly positive, leaving fans wondering when the web-slinger would appear next. Well, wait no longer. Spider-Man’s “homecoming” is here and it’s sweeping the nation.
Homecoming is the first film out of the six attempts to truly represent the comic book character as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man on the big screen. Sam Raimi’s original trilogy with Tobey Maguire were fantastic films, but they failed to capture the teenage awkwardness Peter Parker and the loquaciousness of Spider-Man. And when the character was rebooted in 2012… well, the less said about Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man iteration, the better.
Fast forward to 2017, and the world finally gets a taste of what Marvel Studios has had cooking in the oven with Homecoming. Under the direction of Jon Watts and his six writers, Holland was given enough space to work with that allowed him to show up and show out as the hero Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created in 1962. From Spider-Man’s personality and desire to be a better hero to Peter’s social awkwardness and innocence, Holland executes it all to perfection.
After a brief (yet clever) recap of Peter’s adventures in Captain America: Civil War, he’s quickly brought back to the reality that is his high school life. Once a proud member of the academic decathlon team, he eagerly awaits for the call from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his super-powered buddies for his “next big mission.” Once out of school, Peter suits up and dedicates his time to becoming the friendly neighborhood hero in his hometown of Queens. Growing tiresome of the petty thefts as time passes, Peter gets antsy and sets out to find that larger scaled threat to show Stark that he’s ready for that Avengers’ spot.
Luckily for Peter, Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his crew — who were briefly contractually responsible for the Chitauri invasion cleanup in The Avengers (2012) — start making noise nearby. After Damage Control (a government agency aligned with Stark) puts Toomes and his salvage crew out of business, he begins his path for revenge. After building a winged suit, becoming the Vulture, Toomes and his crew proceed to setup heists to steal pieces of that Chitauri tech back; building and selling super weapons along the way. It’s up to Spider-Man to try and defeat Vulture and his henchmen before things get out of hand.
At the core of Homecoming there’s a small, teen coming of age story being told. Although the superhero action is great, it’s the smaller moments between the characters that give the film its heart. The casting is fantastic. Zendaya is great as Michelle (one of Peter’s fellow classmates), and Laura Harrier shines as Peter’s love interest, Liz. Marisa Tomei reprises her role as Aunt May and Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan (Stark’s head of security who is tasked with “babysitting” Peter). Jacob Batalon portray’s Peter’s best friend, Ned, and their chemistry is something that compliments the film really well. They’re both two smart guys who just fail at fitting in, so they are the perfect duo. Some of the film’s funniest and joyful moments come from their adventures.
If you were worried about Homecoming becoming more of an Iron Man movie because of the Tony Stark heavy marketing, fear not. His purpose is to simply connect Spider-Man with the rest of the MCU, and its executed beautifully. There’s a definite Iron Man vibe at times, but it never overshadows Spidey’s limelight. Stark is merely just a small part of Peter’s journey towards becoming the superhero we all know and love. One of the major plots of Homecoming is for Peter to gain confidence of his own. Ignoring what others may think what’s best for him, he stays true to himself and fights the good fight, putting himself in danger in order to protect the ones he cares about.
Although this film is focused on building character, this is indeed a comic book film at the end of the day. And what’s a comic book film without some action? When needed, Watts crafts a number of visually pleasing action sequences that makes full use of Spider-Man’s abilities. As the movie progresses, so does Peter’s power. His true strength and grit are on full display from time to time and it’s truly incredible to watch.
Surprisingly, perhaps the biggest obstacle that Homecoming hurdles over and conquers is with its villain: The Vulture. The MCU has had some major villain problems in the past, as most are forgettable aside from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Vulture has no powers or alien biology, he’s just a regular person, with regular problems, who does what he needs to get by and provide for his family. There’s no elaborate scheme behind his rhyme and reason, he’s just your average blue-collared worker who happens to wreak havoc on a much smaller scale.
Part of Vulture’s success comes from the fact that Keaton is actually given many opportunities to act, giving you time to truly connect with his character. There’s a real presence with Vulture that provides for some of the highest points in the film, putting you as a viewer on the edge of your seat. This hasn’t been done with a villain since Loki, so it’s no surprise that Vulture has become one of the most memorable since.
There’s a number of easter eggs and nods to both Spider-Man’s universe and Marvel’s larger cinematic universe in Homecoming, so if you’ve been on this ride since 2008’s Iron Man, there’s gonna be some fan service for you. There are very few blunders (if any) that Watts makes with this film, other than a third act that maybe gets too big for its own good at one point? The grounded nature that the film possessed up to this point didn’t really mesh well with a particular stunt that gets pulled in the climactic battle. Nonetheless, you can’t really complain about it when it happens because the film has earned every right to let loose and get a little crazy by the time it happens. It’s just that good.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a great addition to the MCU, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you Kevin Feige and thank you Sony for finally giving the fans the character we’ve read about and grew to know and love. It’s great to see Spider-Man back home with Marvel Studios. This is where he belongs.
FINAL SCORE: A