Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun, fast-paced fantastic superhero movie that reboots the fan-favourite web-slinger in jaw-dropping style. A triumphant return to the big screen after a horde of promotion and a marketing campaign that no one could escape, in a year dominated by comic-adaptations.
The Story So Far
The story to Spider-Man: Homecoming starts off in a prologue set immediately after the battle of New York from The Avengers movie, where salvager Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his team are driven out of business by the Department of Damage Control. Losing everything, Toomes persuades his team to use the alien technology they were salvaging to pursue a criminal career.
The story then picks up in the present day following on from the events of the airport scene in Captain America: Civil War. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back in school, uneasy with being back in his 'normal life', eager to be an Avenger - waiting for that call from Tony Stark to bigger things.
Armed with a suit made by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.), Peter is left to be a 'friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man' to his antsy dismay. One night Peter prevents an ATM heist using mysterious weapons and upon returning home he is seen by his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) finding out that Peter is really Spider-Man. Peter attends a party and sees something similar to the weapons he came across earlier coming across Toomes' crew trying to sell alien weapons and intervenes only to meet Toomes as the Vulture who nearly kills Peter, rescued luckily by Tony Stark.
Peter and Ned investigate one of the alien weapons that Peter recovered. Peter follows his own tracking device on that he places on one of Toomes' crew and learning that it leads to Maryland, close to where Parker and the decathlon team will be for their national tournament in Washington D.C. Working with Ned, Parker disables the tracker implanted in his Spider-Man suit and unlocks all its secret features. Peter stops Toomes from stealing weapons from a Department of Damage Control's truck and ends up being trapped inside the truck missing the tournament and discovering that the alien device he took is unstable. Peter escapes and manages to get to the Washington Monument just as the device explodes and is able to save Ned and his teammates in time.
Back in New York Peter tracks Toomes onto a Staten Island Ferry, where during a fight one of the alien devices trying to be sold malfunctions and rips the ferry in half. Tony Stark arrives just in time to save Peter and the ferry where afterwards Tony strips Peter of the Spider-Man suit for Peter's recklessness.
Peter returns to his normal life dejected but he can't run away from his responsibility to be the hero he truly is.
A Perfect Stand-Alone
Spider-man: Homecoming is a new reboot of the hugely popular superhero and the first Spider-Man film to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, the audience is set up with the story of both Toomes and Peter Parker, and thankfully no radioactive spider or origin story in sight.
Spider-Man: Homecoming stands out uniquely in the MCU as the story's direction serves as a high school drama coupled with a coming of age story revolving around Peter Parker. This film takes the opposite approach to both Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man films and Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man films, by basing the foundation of the film on Peter's high school experiences where the other films push it to the background. Spider-Man: Homecoming emphasises this running theme further with continuous jokes about the trials of teenage life and stringing monumental teenage moments into Peter's narrative.
Spider-Man: Homecoming slips away from the MCU narrative, where the other MCU film's basis is to construct the journey to Avengers: Infinity Wars. By veering away from this, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a film that will grip audiences and they won't get distracted by Easter-Eggs and sub plot references to the MCU - fully immersing themselves in this compelling film.
The film doesn't shy away from the fact it is set in a world of superheroes and watching Peter as he watches his heroes, Stark and Captian America, brings relatable emotions to audiences watching those same heroes and most importantly the story doesn't focus on these other existing heroes, instead the narrative focal point is Peter Parker and not Spider-Man.
A New Direction for Spider-Man
Taking the wheel of this massive project is a relatively unknown director, Jon Watts, who brings a lightness of touch to this blockbuster. He approaches the big action sequences that are well stocked with fast paced jumps, jolts and flips in a raw and down to earth sense pulling away from the visually dazzling sequences seen in other films in the MCU.
This approach gives the character of Spider-Man a gritty, tough yet elegant feel which is fulfilling for one of most powerful superheroes in the comic universe, a step away from the vulnerability seen in previous Spider-Man films. This film in particular stands out from the previous adaptations of Spider-Man as Watts manages to extract sharp and high-spirited performance from his talented yet young cast.
Watts also brings in a new element to Spider-Man on the big screen, we see him outside of the towering skyscrapers; Coney Island, the Suburbs and Washington D.C. This is a beautifully crafted mirroring between Spider-Man's struggle to move around without having buildings to sling from to Peter's own struggle to being himself. Watts and the writers bring Spider-Man: Homecoming to the big screen without an origin arc which serves it well in the sense that Watts has a little freedom on the way he blends the narrative into his down to Earth style and this blend works fantastically.
It would be under-rated to call Tom Holland's portrayal of Spider-Man as just good. Tom Holland is charismatic, funny and awkward which blends into his clear capability to pull off a web-slinging superhero. His performance is gritty and vulnerable which adds a necessary tension and teenage cockiness, with just being called up to the big leagues, to being a 15-year-old with super powers.
Holland has undoubtedly nailed the Spider-Man role, owning it in reminiscence of how Robert Downey Jnr. owns the role of Tony Stark. Perfect casting!
Spider-Man: Homecoming's real treat is in the cast of Peter's high school classmates. Firstly, Jacob Batalon as Peter's BFF, Ned, is comedic and enthusiastic. Batalon is likeable and a perfect superhero sidekick as the 'guy in the chair'.
The standout out of the high school cast is Zendaya as Michelle, who we later learn is MJ. She is witty, anti-social and whippy with some smart and funny one-liners that helps continue the humour through the film.
It is hard not to mention Robert Downey Jnr. as he was all over the promotional campaigns leading up to the film's release. Fortunately, his role in Spider-Man: Homecoming is very much a cameo. Downey Jnr. does what he does best and plays Tony Stark as we would all expect. A positive mention of his portrayal is that he serves as a worthy father figure to Peter and his leadership quality comes off very paternal in this film. Along with Jon Favreau, they bring both connect this film's narrative into that of the MCU arc.
On par with Tom Holland's performance is that of Michael Keaton. In the past, antagonists in comic book adaptations have lacked a rounded quality. However, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the villain is definitely one of the more fully developed and believable bad guys.
Keaton brings a star quality to his performance as a compelling bad guy who the audience can remain interested in and at the same time understand his motives. The character of Adrian Toomes has enough hardship and toil in common with Peter's own background to be a worthy villain. Keaton brings a menace and rooted motivation to Toomes and is a scene stealer.
Spider-Man: Homecoming - A Final Thought
Spider-Man: Homecoming is easily the lightest superhero movie audiences will be pleasured too. However, it's that down to Earth grit that gives this film a unique mark against its predecessors and against other films in the MCU. The rooted foundation of Spider-Man: Homecoming is that it is very funny and that blends in with the quirky awkwardness of high school life and the gritty action sequences.
It is a film about the dramas of teenage life, a film about coming of age and the story of a young boy coming to terms with his own expectations of himself. It is full of fun, comedy and heart with a beating heart behind the momentum of the film.
It doesn't move the MCU story line forward but it serves a fantastic introduction to a much-loved character and perfectly as a stand alone narrative that is not dependent on the MCU arc. This is an excellent summer blockbuster, a must see and fans will quickly call this the best Spider-Man yet and we will eagerly await the next installment in the franchise.