It’s been about a month since a major superhero film release, so here we are again!
Marvel is at bat now, and they’ve brought out their most iconic superhero, Spider-Man. We got a peek at him in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, so now that he has his own film, let’s see what it has to offer.
Spider-Man: Homecoming follows a teenage Peter Parker (Tom Holland) shortly after his discovery by the Avengers. He can’t seem to keep their attention, though, as he dreams of saving people on a larger scale. Meanwhile, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a local construction worker, has been hoarding leftover alien technology from the attack on New York in The Avengers and is selling hi-tech weaponry around New York City. Parker must learn to balance his high school life with his desire to impress the Avengers to hopefully stop this homegrown menace.
Without a doubt, the best part of the movie is our main character. His two most recent representations on film have been strong in their own ways, but were fairly weak in their portrayal of high school. In Homecoming, Parker’s life and struggles as a smart kid with a huge crush on a classmate are now shown with refreshing sincerity; one particularly heartfelt and awkward scene hit me in such a genuine way that I immediately felt a dozen high school memories of my own come rushing back. Holland is infectiously enthusiastic throughout in his portrayal of the young hero and might be my favorite take on the character to date.
With great heroes must come great villains, and Michael Keaton absolutely knocks it out of the park with his performance as Vulture. In the tradition of other Spider-Man villains, Homecoming presents an ordinary, down-on-his-luck man who goes in over his head and is corrupted by power. The suit that he wears is genuinely intimidating, and Keaton portrays his character with a mix of the charismatic persona we’re familiar with from the ’80s and ’90s and the unhinged performance he gave in 2014’s Birdman. I hope we see more of him in the future.
While the film succeeds with several of its characters, though, it is very shallow and ultimately lacks heart. Homecoming is a fun movie, but it is little more than that and fails to offer real emotional depth. The movie actually seems afraid to let the viewer really feel something; dramatic moments are consistently broken with jokes, and we learn only in passing dialog that Peter and Aunt May have recently lost Uncle Ben. This tragedy was traditionally the kicking-off point for Parker’s heroic journey, but we don’t meet him at any time, and neither of the “mourning” characters so much as frowns over the event.
Maybe Wonder Woman has me spoiled, but Spider-Man also doesn’t feel like much of a hero in this one. Homecoming nailed the character of a high school Peter Parker but left Spider-Man awkwardly stumbling through people’s back yards with almost no character growth throughout the film. This is a sort of origin story, but I had hoped he would feel more amazing by the end credits. My concern is that he is left to develop in the time before the next film or carry his clumsiness into it.
Despite its flaws, though, Spider-Man: Homecoming is absolutely worth a watch. It offers a fun, colorful experience that corrects some of the shortcomings of our hero’s recent outings while standing alone as both a Spider-Man film and a worthwhile entry to the ever-expanding MCU.