Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first film of the second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise. It’s been out for quite some time and has been generally received positively by the critics. It’s also tracking to be a financial success as well, which should make both Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures/Sony happy.
It’s not universally loved though – while people generally found the film to be good and entertaining, most people saw a couple of aspects of the films that were misses. I’d like to talk about those tidbits and how I felt about them, and how they work for this reboot and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. As indicated by the title, I’ll be talking about spoilers so if you haven’t seen the film yet, consider this your warning – Spider-Man: Homecoming spoilers from here on out.
- When the title of the film was first revealed I was a little underwhelmed, but now that I’ve seen it I can’t help but mention how apt “Homecoming” was for the movie. It works really well – it references the homecoming dance that Peter and his peers were looking forward to and it refers to Spider-Man not only coming “back home” to Marvel but it also refers to the Spider-Man franchise going back to it’s roots: in the original Amazing Spider-Man comics, Peter graduated in issue no. 26, so people were reading two year’s worth of comic book issues that featured him as a high school student.
- Much has been said about both Tom Holland’s and Michael Keaton’s portrayals of their respective characters, both in and out of costume. Most people say they both did great, and I agree, but I have to give credit to the script and screenplay as well. Both actors were given good material and they did well with it. Special mention: that scene with Peter and Adrian Toomes in the car was awesome; I love it whenever the hero and the villain have conversations with each other.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming was able to effectively show aspects of the Spider-Man character that were missing in previous films. First, I loved how the movie showed an inexperienced version of Spider-Man who was in over his head with the issue that he wanted to deal with. In previous films, Spider-Man pretty much had a good enough handle of whatever situation he was in, but the version that we saw in Homecoming was still pretty incompetent. Disregarding quality, I’d say this reboot is now my favorite take on the character because we’ll be able to see Peter Parker grow into the Spider-Man character that we’ve come to know and love – a similar experience to what comic book readers back in the 60s went through.
- Some people have said that they felt Shocker was shoehorned into the film, but I disagree. I think both Marvel and DC have figured out how to insert minor, lesser known villains, into their films such as KGBeast (Batman V Superman), Arnim Zola (Captain America: The First Avenger), Batroc the Leaper (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Victor Zsasz. These characters may be good enough to be the starring villains in comic book storylines, but we’re talking about big budget films here. Some villains, superpowers or not, are simply henchmen.
- Another aspect of the character that Homecoming was able to effectively present is the conflict between Peter Parker’s real life and the responsibilities that he feels he has as Spider-Man without beating us over the head with it via subtle things like dropping out of various school clubs, missing the decathlon, and even leaving his homecoming date all by her lonesome.
- I can’t help but mention this – Spider-Man: Homecoming touches upon one of the themes presented in Captain America: Civil War, that superheroes need oversight. In this film we have an inexperienced superpowered vigilante who means well but almost got people killed twice – the deli owner when he interrupted a burglary attempt and at the barge. Peter almost got himself killed as well; I doubt that he’d survive that building falling on top of him if he didn’t have his superpowers. Superpowered vigilantes can be as dangerous to the public as the villains that they’re trying to stop, if they don’t have the proper training and supervision.
- One criticism of the film that I’ve seen more than once is that it feels like there’s not much at stake, and I can’t help but agree. And being small scale has nothing to do with it – the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man film didn’t have plans of world domination and wasn’t that big of a threat, but you felt the urgency of the situation because he was actually killing people and he was a major threat to Peter Parker’s loved ones. I’m not blaming Michael Keaton, as he did well in portraying a character that felt scary enough. Rather, the problem is with the screenplay: the Vulture’s operation was so small, we were only shown a handful of bank robbers using them. It’s not like they’ve managed to arm several gangs and the police were already having problems dealing with the issue. The Vulture was also never shown to make good on his threats against Peter – he never tries to outright murder Spider-Man and seemed content to leave our hero incapacitated. I get that he’s not a cold-blooded killer, and I understand that you can only show so much in a film with limited screentime, but this is why I think the film lacked intensity.
- It’s no secret that Spider-Man: Homecoming changed several things in the franchise in this version, and I’m okay with most of it. I love what they did with the Vulture; his motivations and criminal activities in Homecoming made more sense than how he was originally portrayed in the comics. I don’t mind that Liz Allan was now African American and changing the Flash Thompson character into a modern-day version of a bully was acceptable (if this were a TV series, I would probably be less open).
- One big change that I’ve accepted but don’t like all that much is Spider-Man’s costume – it is too overpowered and makes Spider-Man feel like a lite version of Iron Man. I’ve accepted it because it makes storytelling easier (again, films have limited screentime) and it makes sense for this version of Spider-Man. Which is more believable? Maguire/Garfield coming up with a great looking spandex costume on their own, or a billionaire providing Spider-Man with not only a good looking costume but one with Stark tech in it? This is an easier pill to swallow than Raimi’s organic webbing.
- While the presence of Tony and Happy was welcome, I think they robbed Aunt May of precious screentime. I guess she’ll have her chance in the sequel. On a related note, I love how Uncle Ben’s death was left out but still subtly referenced through Peter’s frantic concern for his aunt.
- That action sequence at the end was quite messy. The visuals were very dark and there were moments when it was hard for me to tell what was going on. I know that it’s a nighttime sequence but it could have had better lighting.
- Captain America’s “non-cameos” remain to be awesome. I can still remember that scene in Thor: The Dark World when Loki quickly morphed into Steve Rogers; the way the character was used in this was hilarious.
- Finally – leaving out the Uncle Ben shooting and the spider bite actually worked! Having these scenes in the original Spider-Man movie was necessary but took up a lot of the screentime. Homecoming skipped that part of the origin and was able to spend more time on showing how Peter is growing into the Spider-Man character. Anyone looking to reboot a franchise should take notes – you don’t need to show the exact origin of a well known character.
And that’s it, everything I wanted to say about Spider-Man: Homecoming. It’s ranking among the MCU franchise or the Spider-Man series of films is arguable, but it’s definitely a really good movie and an excellent start to this reboot. I can’t wait to see more of Tom Holland in the role; I think Spider-Man has the potential to be the Harry Potter of the MCU and is a good candidate to take over the reins of the MCU’s lead superhero once Robert Downey Jr. steps down from his Tony Stark role.
Have you seen Spider-Man: Homecoming? What did you think about it? Let us know by leaving a comment or two below!