Spider-Man: Homecoming brings Marvel’s greatest hero, Peter Parker, back to his rightful place among its pantheon of heroes in an incredibly sincere and heartwarming addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Jon Watts, known for smaller films such as Cop Car and Clown, delivers a superhero movie unlike any we’ve seen before. While other movies in the Marvel Universe revolve around galaxy-threatening aliens and international conspiracies, Homecoming is a much more like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller mashed up with superpowers.
Spider-Man: Homecoming follows Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) after the events of his debut in Captain America: Civil War. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brings Peter back to his home in Queens with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), he must try to adjust to being a “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” instead of fighting alongside The Avengers. However, Peter gets in over his head when he goes after a group of black market weapons dealers led by Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton) as Spider-Man tries to prove that he’s ready for the big leagues.
While Spider-Man: Homecoming is the third iteration of Peter Parker, Marvel does a wonderful job at making Homecoming distinctively different from both Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy or The Amazing Spider-Man series. Homecoming puts a strong focus on Peter’s youth, and his struggle to become a superhero. Because he’s 15 years old, he’s highly inexperienced and desperate to prove himself to Tony Stark and become a full-fledged Avenger. Another thing that Homecoming adds to the mix is strong supporting characters as a part of Spider-Man’s life. One of my favorite additions is Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), which provides Peter a dynamic we haven’t seen before by giving him a best friend that he can confide his secrets and superhero life with. Peter also deals with bullies such as Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), love interest Liz Allen (Laura Harrier) and the mysterious and quirky Michelle (Zendaya). Each member of the cast perfectly fits in their role, and there’s a true chemistry between each of them. Unlike many high school films, each character looks and acts like they belong in a high school setting. Homecoming shines through these interactions, because the movie is just as much about Peter Parker and his relationships as it is about his secret life as Spider-Man.
The biggest compliment that I can give Homecoming is that it feels like a comic book coming to life on-screen. Tom Holland is without question the best iteration of Spider-Man, and it’s clear that everyone involved in the project was passionate about the source material. By including superhero cameos, references to Spider-Man’s mythology, and a lovingly crafted coming of age story, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a wonderful homage to what makes Spider-Man truly special. Homecoming also felt much different than other entries in Marvel’s collection. Many critics have complained that Marvel has become formulaic in their recent movies, and while Spider-Man: Homecoming doesn’t escape that formula entirely, it feels different enough to set it apart.
Speaking of breaking the Marvel formula, Homecoming is pleasantly set apart from other Marvel films by having a truly memorable and captivating villain. I was concerned that Michael Keaton would be a one-note villain like many Marvel villains before him, but Keaton was incredibly well fleshed-out and equally menacing. We were able to spend time with The Vulture, and Keaton’s performance as Adrian Toomes was incredible. The best scenes of the movie involve Spider-Man and Toomes interacting with one another, and The Vulture steals the show as Keaton comes off as viciously dangerous. One of Spider-Man’s hallmarks is his phenomenal rogues gallery, and I’m incredibly grateful that the Spider-Man villains in this movie are allowed the time to develop and evolve.
The performance of the film through, which comes as no surprise, was Tom Holland. Holland captures everything about Peter Parker that make him special. Holland captures Peter’s sincerity, dorkiness, humor, lovable naivety and constant struggle with “Great power and Great Responsibility.” Tom captures the best features of Peter Parker, and he masterfully conveys his joy, fear, and heartbreaks. I’m incredibly excited to see where the character goes from here, and I’m excited that Spider-Man is truly in capable hands.