I remember being one of the few people excited for Spider-Man: Homecoming when the film was announced.
I don’t blame those people. We all were rather exasperated at the thought of yet another Spider-Man reboot. And the main reason I couldn’t fault them was because of how snobby I myself am when it comes to superhero movies. It’s not my fault the comics are way better, okay? Don’t hate me.
But I was excited for this one ever since my friend dragged me to watch Captain America: Civil War. I had mixed thoughts about that movie but I was floored by Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man. That kid was brilliant! That alone was what kept me hopeful.
Entering the cinema I was nervous. What if I had my hopes up for nothing? What if my Tom Holland bias wasn’t enough to like this movie? What if the movie is way too off the comic books? What if I run out of popcorn during the trailers? All legitimate questions.
But then the film started, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Marvel superhero movie that got my attention in the first ten minutes the way this film did. If I have then I don’t remember so there.
Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place two months after Civil War.
15-year-old Peter Parker has returned to his normal life, which involves getting through high school, dealing with bullies and crushing on a high-school senior.
He’s been waiting on a call from the Avengers, anxious for another mission, while trying to fight crime in New York, which is obviously boring after battling Captain America and squad.
Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t have your average ‘larger than life’ story line. It’s just a hero, stopping a bad guy. And that’s what I really enjoyed.
Alongside Peter’s high school grind, we see Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) who cleans up the town from the wreckage caused by the many battles of Avengers. Toomes’ hidden agenda involves salvaging high-tech scrap to manufacture weapons and sell them to criminals. He is foiled by Stark Enterprises which takes over the clean-ups and resorts to stealing the scrap material.
Spider-Man then decides to take on Adrian and his team, despite being told not to do so by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Adventure follows, which may appear simple but has its unpredictable moments.
A necessary respite from origin stories
Director Jon Watts has proved that he is a huge Spider-Man geek and it shows in the script. We see characters surrounding Peter Parker that have all had great presence in the comics. Best friend Ned, crush Liz, bully Flash… down to school news anchor Betty Brant (whose character made her debut along with Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy), every name rings a bell.
Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t have your average ‘larger than life’ story line and that’s what I really enjoyed. It’s just a hero, stopping a bad guy. No ‘humanity’s only hope’, no ‘fate of the world is on your shoulders’ and most importantly, no giant sky beams. Seriously, I’m sick of giant sky beams.
It was also not an origin story, which I’m sure we’re all bored of. The only thing remotely close to an origin story was a one-minute scene where Peter tells his friend he got bit by a spider. That’s all we needed really.
For me, Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man on the silver screen. I don’t see an actor’s work only as the superhero, I see it in the alter ego. Tom Holland captured the essence of Peter Parker.
It was very easy to empathise with Peter, with several scenes having us going “That’s so me!” Peter comes off as just a geeky 15 year old — with superpowers, that is. We’d all be as excited as him, as impatient as him and definitely as novice as him. Whats more, we’d also be as nervous as him and frightened during dangerous moments that seem hopeless. I could relate to Peter, at times feeling exactly what he was feeling, be it joy or pain.
Its been a while that we’ve seen a good villain story line. The past few movies either featured boring villains, or ones that just randomly showed up at the end like a boss fight in a video game. But with the Vulture, we see Michael Keaton’s character develop from the beginning, in fact, before we see Spider-Man.
We see Adrian Toomes grow from thief to killer. Michael Keaton presents a character we may disagree with, but we don’t want to hate. Keaton’s performance was transformative. More than halfway into the movie Adrian made me uncomfortable and that means Keaton did his job perfectly.
I didn’t enjoy that Robert Downey Jr had a lot of screen time. Did we really need to see Tony Stark at a desi wedding in a white kurta?
Jacob Batalon’s Ned was adorable and funny. While not the most memorable character, we did enjoy seeing him on screen as the excited best friend. My only issue was that the way his character was written, it felt more like a character from the comics named Ganky Lee rather than Ned.
Zendaya’s performance as MJ didn’t win me over and we certainly don’t mean race. The character was nothing like MJ, and it was a major let down for me because it ruined my overall impact of the film. MJ had nothing to do with the film, in the sense that her absence would make no difference to the film. I blame the writers here more than Zendaya, she could only do so much. MJ was a sarcastic, quirky, almost hippy like person who had as much of a role in the film as a comedian in a horror movie… The kind that is the first to die… you know?
Like Zendaya’s character, there were some elements in the film I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t enjoy that Robert Downey Jr had a lot of screen time. I understand that Tony Stark’s presence was inevitable what with the film’s connection to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but did it really have to be so much? Did we really need to see Tony at a desi wedding in a white Kurta (I am not making this up, this happened)? Just because Uncle Ben isn’t there doesn’t mean Uncle Tony needs to be around that much.
One important point a friend pointed out to me was that Peter didn’t have any Spider senses. I tried to see if it was a conscious decision or something that just didn’t show up, but it is obvious that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man doesn’t have this special ability. How bout we let Peter ‘evolve’ that skill or something eh?
The film also had some cheesy moments that could’ve been done without, like Tony’s advice echoing in Peter’s mind in a dire situation. But that can all be overlooked because of the many positive attributes to the film.
The film makes sure to pay homage to all the Spider-Man productions before it and also to the books. You are assured of that the moment the opening credits start playing with a remixed version of the Spider-Man theme from the 60’s and if you’re anything like me, you might have applauded at that… Okay so it was only me…
Donald Glover plays Aaron Davis, who is known as the Prowler in the books. Whats more, he says he has a nephew in the neighbourhood, a reference to Miles Morales, a Spider-Man in another universe. Okay I know I’m going in way too deep in the comic realm but talk about Spidey-ception!
Jon Watts also keeps iconic scenes from the books! Spider-Man fighting criminals who are wearing Avengers masks or Peter Parker not knowing how to drive, these are all scenes from the books.
Even a hilarious scene of Spidey running across the suburbs in pursuit of villains because of no tall buildings to swing from was inspired from an old issue of Spider-Man and I was ecstatic to see it translated for the screen!
While Homecoming was obviously tied down due to the demands of the MCU, Watts, definitely found a way to keep true to his love for the Spider-Man. And mine too!
For me Spider-Man: Homecoming was a really good superhero movie to come after a long time. It balanced lighthearted fun with emotional growth, had a plot that was well tied together and had a lead actor that delivered both the hero and alter ego brilliantly.