Spider-Man Homecoming: Light, Fun & Unburdened by the Demands of ‘Universe Building’
Michael KeatonRobert Downey Jr....
Action & AdventureScience Fiction
In 1 Cinema
The sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years has been met with much more excitement than its Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield-led incarnations, thanks largely to the phenomenon that is Marvel’s sprawling cinematic universe. Though many predict the superhero bubble will burst soon, comic books have never been more en vogue. But what makes Spider-Man: Homecoming such a success is the fact that it isn’t burden by the MCU as so many other films have. In fact, the script does exceedingly well to allow the film to stand alone – yes, knowledge of previous Marvel movies does no harm, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
In addition, audiences have been spared the infamous bitten-by-a-radioactive-spider origin story; having already been introduced in Captain America: Civil War, the main action picks up as Tom Holland’s version of the web-slinger contemplates being part of the Avengers.
An intro scene explains the foundations of how Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes eventually becomes the Vulture, but the film is really more about the coming-of-age of Peter Parker – the whole Vulture thing just feels like a coincidental challenge. It’s a fun one that provides colourful, action-packed scenes, but, overall, the Vulture feels like the latest in a series of under-baked Marvel villains, whose motivations are either exasperatingly vague, or completely psychopathic. In this instance, Toomes – a salvage company owner – is angry that Tony Stark took over the clean-up of the aftermath of ‘The Battle of New York’. Keaton does a stellar job and there’s an argument to be made about this being an improvement in the villain department; ultimately, though, it never feels like he could actually triumph – and you need a little bit of uncertainty with antagonists.
While many have delighted at the John Hughes-like high-school elements of the film, they’re still very much overshadowed by Peter Parker’s superhero ambitions; the film touches on classic high-school drama, but everything is very much geared towards Spider-Man the superhero, rather than Peter Parker the 15 year old kid.
Nonetheless, the film does well to combine the two where possible and Holland’s turn as a recklessly enthusiastic teen with a heart of gold is key in bringing everything together, because, unlike Maguire and Garfield before him, he actually seems like a teenager. This is helped by the light tone of the script, which doesn’t burden its main character with emotions and philosophies beyond his years – he’s just a kid that’s having a hell of a time being Spider-Man and that sense of fun leaps off the screen. While somewhat predictable, there’s a clear character arc that can very easily and effectively picked up in future Spider-Man appearances, whether in solo sequels or as part of future Marvel films.