Spider-Man: Homecoming Review - The Title Says it All

Homecoming, indeed. For many a Spider-Man fan, and many more Marvel Comics fans in general, the absence of the wisecracking, wall-crawling superhero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been something in desperate need of correcting. Thankfully, Marvel Studios and Sony -- owners of the Marvel poster-boy's movie rights -- were able to strike a deal
that sent everyone's favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man web-slinging into the beloved movie universe. Many were worried about having another Spider-Man reboot, bringing the count up to three different Spider-Man film series in as few as fifteen years, and more were concerned that perhaps this Spider-Man wouldn't be able to get past the lackluster reception of many of the preceding Spidey films. Thankfully, director Jon Watts and the rest of the creative team behind Homecoming not only bring movie goers the best Spider-Man film to date, it also gives us a fantastic Spider-Man story that touches on everything we love about the web-slinger, while successfully avoiding all the mistakes made by previous films.

One of the first things Spider-Man: Homecoming does right is its complete and total avoidance of retelling us Spidey's origin story. Clearly, twice in fifteen years is plenty. At this point, Spider-Man's origin is like Batman's. We know it, and we know it well. We don't need the first twenty minutes of a film to explain it to us in a slightly different but not really kind of way.

Homecoming takes place sometime after the events of Captain America: Civil War were we got our first look at the rebooted wall-crawler. At this point, Peter Parker -- played wonderfully by the young Tom Holland -- is successfully cleaning up the low-level street crime of his part of New York City while maintaining the sad and slight social life he has. However, ever since aligning with Team Iron Man against Team Cap, Peter's thirst to be the bigger hero he knows he can be continues to grow, while Tony Stark -- acting as a kind of mentor/father figure to Peter -- tries to keep the young upstart as grounded as he can. Peter's need to be more of a hero only increases when Adrian Toomes -- played by veteran actor Michael Keaton -- comes into the picture with big plans for he and his group.

It is within this seemingly simple, yet heroic story that Homecoming succeeds in all the right ways without catering to the typical Spider-Man tropes we've seen up on screen before. Not only is it sans origin story, it isn't the typical tale of Peter trying to balance his social life with being the hero of New York City. Yes, that does play a part, as it does in any movie with a hero hiding a secret identity, but it never becomes the main focus. Instead, we get the story of a young kid of fifteen recently gifted with super powers trying his best to live up to the heroes he greatly admires, his mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man most of all. And, of course, at only fifteen years old, he tries for maybe a bit too much too soon. It is a story about knowing your limits, but at the same time not letting those limits hold you back when you know you should act. Never is the iconic "With great power comes great responsibility" uttered in the film, but that same message that has become the essence of Spider-Man is still prevalent, as it should be.

Through all the story telling, Tom Holland masterfully pulls the audience along for the web filled ride as the young, brash, cocky, and a little clumsy Spider-Man. Through Holland, we see the Spider-Man comic fans have always wanted on the big screen, but only caught glimpses of through the lacking, though admirable performances of Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter is a young, geeky, high school genius who loves Star Wars, excels at science and mathematics -- as well as every other subject -- and succeeds at fumbling his way through social situations, particularly with females. Holland's grasp of the young, insecure teenager shines through, and is greatly assisted by the somewhat show-stealing performance of Jacob Batalon who plays Peter's best friend Ned, who is just as awkward and socially inept, but is enamored with his friend's abilities and opportunities to be a hero. However, Holland's performance shines when he suits up in the red and blue tights. Cocky, loud-mouthed, and always cracking jokes, Tom Holland brings out Spider-Man's sarcastic and clever wise-cracking antics as he flips, punches, kicks, and webs up the bad guys, even beautifully throwing out some terrible puns to top things off. Even Spidey's sometimes clumsy nature from overconfidence is showcased throughout most of the film, adding the right amount of humor to the hero's tale.

Outside of Tom Holland, the rest of the cast does splendidly when given the chance. As stated above, Jacob Batalon's Ned is always a welcomed comical addition to the scene, but still provides Peter with the friend he sometimes needs. Laura Harrier as Liz, Peter's crush, offers an amount of class and romantic intrigue to the wall-crawlers life, and the quiet and brutally honest Michelle, played beautifully by Zendaya, brings a bit of welcomed dry humor to the mix. Robert Downey, Jr. is, as always, a marvelous Tony Stark, and his reluctant mentoring of Peter is both heartwarming and makes the relationship all the more relatable, both from Tony and Peter's standpoints, respectively.

It should come as no surprise that Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes is masterfully performed, bringing a combination of working-man done wrong and intimidating gang leader to the character. Toomes is both relatable and unforgivable in his mission, and Keaton drives it home as he shows that this man is not someone to be underestimated, whether you have superpowers or not.

Sadly, if any of the performances would have to be called "lacking," it would have to be Marisa Tomei as Aunt May Parker. Though Tomei does great with what she is given, and has proven her acting chops in the past, she is never granted enough screen time or material to come off as anything very far beyond Peter's "hot aunt," which she is casually alluded to more than a couple times in the film. While Homecoming seems to surpass the previous Spider-Man films in most aspects, the Aunt Mays of the past were a more prominent and driving part of Peter's life, pulling from one of the most important aspects of the Spider-Man comics, which just doesn't come across here.

Spider-Man and Marvel fans alike can finally rejoice. Not only does Spider-Man: Homecoming bring the sarcastic superhero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe to stand side-by-side with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America, but he does it with a style completely his own. Tom Holland brings us the Spider-Man we have always wanted, while Jon Watts and the rest of the creative team behind the film gives him to us in a story truly worthy of the iconic web-slinger.


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