After a crowd pleasing first appearance in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Spidey’s first solo outing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally here.
This film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who is caught trying to balance his life as a high school student and a crime fighting superhero, but he is put to the test when a new threat The Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges.
To my surprise this is actually a really funny film, there’s a lot of comedy throughout the script. Most of the time when films of this nature attempt to do that it falls flat and feels forced. That’s not the case here, all the comedy felt natural. The best way to describe the script as whole is as a high school teen comedy that happens to feature Spider-Man. The script does a good job of slotting this story within the existing MCU. Certain aspects of the films villain tie into the events of the first Avengers film very comfortably. To some degree this is still a Spider-Man origin story, just without the key elements of Spidey’s origin that most of us already know, such as him being bitten by a spider and Uncle Ben dying.
Tom Holland is so naturally suited to the role of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, from start to finish he was absolutely faultless. There is not a single aspect of his performance that I could criticise. At 15 years old, this is the youngest Peter Parker we have seen on the big screen and Tom portrays him with a youthful exuberance. This is a Peter who looks up to the Avengers and hopes to one day become an Avenger. His struggles of learning what it means to be a hero with or without the suit is the driving force behind his development, and it’s that element that provides us with a true origin of this new Spider-Man.
Michael Keaton was very good as Adrian Toomes and The Vulture. This is probably as good as you could make this character on the big screen. He’s far more grounded in reality than his original comic book iteration and that was something they had to get right or else the character wouldn’t work at all. Michael brings an added level of gravitas to role and I believe he elevates the material in the script to a higher level. Some of the best villains are the ones who think their actions are morally justified, the villains whose point of view you can understand. Adrian Toomes is that type of villain, I completely understood his motivations for being the way he is. He has a family to support and in his eyes he was wronged by Tony Stark and the government, which has resulted with him ending up in the bad position that he is in. Michael shares a scene with Tom inside a car and it is without a doubt the best scene in the film, the intensity is extremely high and that is largely due to how menacing Michael is within the scene. This particular scene is now one of my favourites in the whole of the MCU.
Robert Downey Jr. was not in the film as much as I thought he would be, but every time he showed up it was for good reason and he was never featured in a scene just for the sake of it. One conversation Tony has with Peter is quite serious and the dramatic weight of the situation was conveyed well by RDJ, and I thought the delivery of his lines were great.
Zendaya portrays Michelle, one of Peter’s classmates and although she was very quiet and for the most part was in the background of the scenes, I really liked her subdued performance. It was clear to see that Jacob Batalon was having a blast as Peter’s best friend Ned, serving up many laughs throughout. I even liked how they updated Flash Thompson and made him more of a contemporary teenager, who happens to be in the same classes as Peter and just harmlessly picks on him at times, as opposed to portraying him as the stereotypical jock that we’ve seen him as in previous films who is more of an outright bully. Donald Glover also shows up in two scenes, I won’t say who he is but he left a great first impression on me after those scenes and I can’t wait to see more of his character in the future.
We don’t get a great deal of Spider-Man webslinging from building to building and there’s two reasons as to why. First reason being the majority of this film is set in Queens, NY. Where the buildings aren’t as tall and Peter spends a lot of the film around suburban areas or areas with no buildings at all. The other reason is that this is still an unexperienced Spider-Man, he’s still getting to grips with his abilities and I do believe in the sequel we will see more webslinging.
Jon Watts handled the directing duties really well considering he came from an indie film background, before being thrusted into franchise filmmaking. A number of the action set pieces were directed with the precision and confidence of veteran. My favourite set piece was the one in Washington, DC. It was exhilarating to watch.
Having given myself six days to process my thoughts on the film, I only have a couple negatives. The first one being the secondary villain. I’m a big fan of Spidey’s rogues gallery and to be honest a lot of Marvel’s best villains mainly started off as a foe of Spider-Man. This film features Shocker but I don’t think the character was handled very well. He felt like a throwaway villain instead of someone with a real presence or menace. He’s simply someone who works for Adrian who is then given a weapon and labelled Shocker, Instead of having his own clear motives and standing out. He didn’t seem that threatening either, they didn’t do the character justice at all.
The other issue I have is with the third act action sequence, I felt it was rather predictable and quite bland. It just wasn’t up to par with the rest of the film in my opinion and I found it to be a disappointing climax to the film, action wise.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is much funnier than I had ever predicted it would be. Tom Holland impeccably portrays both Peter and Spidey. The villain was also much stronger than I had expected. The bottom line is regardless of a couple issues, it’s still great summer blockbuster entertainment.
(4 Stars out of 5)
Spider-Man: Homecoming; Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by Jon Watts.
Now showing in U.K. and U.S. Cinemas.