Sometimes movie studios try and try and try with specific franchises, but nothing seems to work. For whatever reason — perhaps an element doesn’t transfer from page to screen, or maybe a lead actor just doesn’t have that charisma — the films start to flop at the box office and become critic fodder.
With its last few iterations, the Spider-Man franchise was running out of web, and Hollywood must’ve been contemplating if it was even worth it to reattempt. Thankfully, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, it all feels new, and it almost erases the other five films. With Tom Holland as Peter Parker (Spider-Man, duh), the franchise has finally found the right guy for the role, and all good things extend outward from him.
The movie itself is your standard summer blockbuster superhero fare, with a big baddie (Michael Keaton) crafting super-weapons and amassing power in New York City. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) makes a few guest appearances and naturally steals the scenes with very little effort. The film sags a bit in the middle, as do most modern superhero movies with running-time bloat.
But rest assured, for the most part, Spider-Man: Homecoming keeps up the action and the humour, so where other superhero movies lose you, this one will hold you captive in its web.
What makes Tom Holland such a good choice?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but Holland seems the most akin to Peter Parker, the character — goofy yet adept, charismatic but dorky, confident and simultaneously woefully unsure of himself. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, the previous Spider-Man players, both seemed too “old” to have the idealistic hope and vigour of a young Parker. Somehow 21-year-old Holland manages to fall into the perfect age range, most of the time looking like a hormonal, overexcited teenager.
He bounds through the movie, practically bouncing from scene to scene, hardly able to contain the zeal of being Spider-Man. Thankfully, having already been expounded upon in the previous films, we don’t need to relive the origin story again. With that behind us, Spider-Man: Homecoming deals with Parker trying to reconcile his superpowers and his mundane, everyday existence. Of course, he’s also seeking to join up officially with The Avengers, which Tony Stark does his best to dissuade.
What about the villain?
As a colleague pointed out, Marvel doesn’t typically have the best villains in its movies: case in point, look no further than Iron Man 2‘s Whiplash. Yikes. But don’t worry, this film has a better, more engaging villain. While he’s not the most terrifying or terrorizing (you’re never in fear that Spidey will perish, let’s put it that way), it’s a delicious nod to Birdman to have Keaton don those monstrous wings as Vulture.
How about the rest of the cast?
As above, Downey Jr. never disappoints. Give the man a paper bag and he’ll entertain you for hours, no problem there. A pleasant surprise is newcomer Jacob Batalon, who plays Ned, Parker’s classmate. The overweight, wise-cracking, semi-clueless sidekick has been done before, but somehow it works with Ned.
Marisa Tomei — to much fanboys’ joy — takes on the Aunt May role, but isn’t around very much to make any large impact on the film. We can probably expect more of her in the upcoming sequels. And we won’t get into Parker’s love interest; that’s something you’ll need to see for yourself.
How’s the scenery?
For a New Yorker, Spider-Man: Homecoming is exactly that: a homecoming. Featuring sweeping imagery of the Big Apple, replete with sunset shots and wide vistas, there hasn’t been a film in recent memory that’s captured the New York City vibe as well as this film.
It’s not all big-picture, either. Fight scenes in alleyways and side streets are just as authentic. Given that Parker is a Queens kid, it’s only appropriate. We can’t deny that New York is a superhero city, and in this movie you can see why.
So what’s the bottom line?
This movie will please Spider-Man fans, young and old; it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a superhero movie that’s light, fun and snappy. While it has its dark moments and themes, it doesn’t get bogged down by them, instead using them as buoys to move the characters forward. Here’s hoping the levity of Homecoming isn’t sullied by a string of soulless, empty sequels.
In sum, you know what they say: Sixth time’s a charm.