Tobey Maguire. Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland.
Three cinematic Spider-Men since 2002. Reboots of reboots. It’s all a bit tiring isn’t it?
Nope! Spider-Man: Homecoming gives us the best web-slinger yet as he gets his first MCU movie.
Last year’s cameo in Civil War is used to properly introduce to the character, before moving onto a story that is much closer to the ground than past Spider-Man films, literally. There are barely any high buildings in Queens, forcing Parker to swing low or even run to get where he needs to be. No web attaching to invisible buildings, you’re always very aware that at least in his own neighbourhood, this friendly Spider-Man is relatively restricted. It makes a nice change.
Rightly assuming we all know the story by now, this isn’t really an origin tale; it’s more about learning lessons. He’s already got the powers and a suit, but at 15 his wants exceed his abilities. Holland’s Peter is acrobatic, clever and witty, but not overly mature as is befitting a 15 year old. There’s none of the overt awkwardness of Maguire or the occasional meanness of Garfield. It’s all different enough to make this fresh, and more importantly a much truer representation of the character from the comics.
There’s a lot here for those who like to see MCU tie-ins, but it never detracts. It’s a tricky balancing act, especially with Tony Stark essentially being the face of the series. Ignore all the joke posters putting Iron Man front and centre, this is a Spider-Man film, and these other characters are only used to further the main story. I have to mention Peter’s best friend Ned, who is supportive and stupid and great throughout.
I didn’t think I’d be calling a Marvel film mundane, but here we are. Not in a bad way mind you – that grounded quality comes back not just in the environment but also in the characters. This is most obvious in the villain. It brings me great joy to say that Michael Keaton gives us a great villain in The Vulture. His standard kookiness is on display, but with both honour and malevolence mixed in. Like Peter he’s had a rough time, but he chooses to deal with it very differently. I could go on about Keaton for ages, so I’ll leave it like this; he makes a great change for Marvel villains, and though I’d love to see more of him what he is present for he nails.
The action scenes were a little busy at times; I struggled to see what was happening but subsequent viewings may change that.
One scene in particular left me really worried for Parker, an odd thing for a superhero movie. I put this down to Holland’s performance. He can do a flip and bust out a comment, but he can also be truly vulnerable and…well he can actually be like a 15 year old in an extraordinary situation. Perhaps in the sequels we’ll see even more.
Leaning fairly heavily on the themes introduced in Iron Man 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming mixes Ultimate Spider-Man with just enough MCU to make a thoroughly entertaining movie.