Many of us have already lived through the Spider-Man film reboots of the past, but this one just feels different. Sony has long owned the movie rights for everyone’s favorite web-slinger, and they’ve done everything they could to keep them. In last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Marvel was able to
throw huge piles of wet sticky cash at convince Sony to let Spidey loose in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a bit. Though it was a limited role, it just felt right having Spider-Man in the movie. As part of the continuing deal, Marvel gets to keep Spidey around for a little while longer. Spider-Man: Homecoming is the MCU solo movie debut for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Does Marvel get it right? Keep reading this full review to find out.
First off, let me just say that it was fantastic to see Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where he belongs. Second, let me reaffirm my commitment to deliver a spoiler-free review for this movie. Anything that is in any of the trailers is fair game, but I’ll still avoid any real plot description outside of enough to kind of set the scene. The movie opens with just a bit of backstory to get everything up to speed. Our major players are identified, given their appropriate motivation, and left to set the rest of the story in motion. We see some of the more… extraordinary… parts of Peter Parker’s early high school career from his perspective, and we get into the meat and potatoes of the story. Marvel also managed to include a play on one of my favorite Spider-Man memes at one point in a way that is both effective and very funny. That’s really all I’m going to say about plot. It makes sense, it fits nicely in its spot in the MCU, and it establishes Peter Parker and Spider-Man where he belongs.
As for the cast, I was definitely very impressed. Tom Holland not only gives us an age-appropriate Parker, but he absolutely nails the quirky, awkward, and kind of nerdy teen aspects of Parker to a T. Tobey Maguire was good, but entirely too old, and Andrew Garfield just couldn’t pull off the appropriate level of awkward to really make for a believable Parker. Tom Holland hits all of the right notes here, and it’s great to see a movie finally get it right. Ned (Jacob Batalon) makes for a fantastic friend to Peter, and in some ways really steals the show. He matches the nerdy/awkward teen vibe beat for beat, and provides quite a lot of comic relief. Marisa Tomei returns as everybody’s favorite hot young Aunt May — really, they bring it up way more than they probably need to — and she continues to do a great job, as expected. She gets in the last word of the film, and it’s great.
Robert Downey Jr. is, of course, Tony Stark/Iron Man, and I’m pretty confident we all know what to expect there. Michael Keaton plays a relatively minor Spider-Man foil, but he is good here. A common complaint about Marvel villains is that they’re never particularly well-developed. Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture may not be the perfect villain, but his motivations are clear, and he’s fairly well developed by Marvel movie standards. The rest of the cast is appropriate and effective, though getting into too many more specifics could possibly be considered spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. In some ways, this feels different than any previous Spider-Man movie because of some of the characters who aren’t present though.
Visuals are great. Most of the action sequences take place in bright daytime, making for a much clearer picture. There are a few fights that happen at night, which is of course a nice way to kind of hide a bit of the detail in your CGI, and those fights are less sharp than the others. Not enough to really detract from the action too much, though the scenes during the day/in brighter light definitely stick out more since you can obviously see everything better.
The soundtrack fits the overall vibe and tone of the film perfectly. In a lot of ways the score and soundtrack really just get out of the way and supplement the film without being distracting, which isn’t a bad thing. The wrong song or orchestral piece can really bring you out of the moment, and that never happens here.
Since it will likely come up — the guys next to me in the theater were doing this as the credits were rolling, in fact — I thought it might be interesting to talk about where Homecoming ranks in the grand scheme of the other major Spider-Man movie releases. It’s really right at the top in my opinion. An argument could be made that Spider-Man 2 deserves the top spot, but I’d probably say that Homecoming and Spider-Man 2 are more like 1 and 1a. Spider-Man 2 has a much stronger and more iconic Spider-Man villain overall, but Tom Holland’s performance as well as the perfect fit into the greater MCU really push Homecoming up to the top for me. The complete list in my eyes at least would be: Homecoming, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 1, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and naturally bringing up the tail end would be Spider-Man 3.
So, with all of that said, should you go see Spider-Man: Homecoming? If you’ve just been skimming up until this point, the TL;DR is an emphatic yes. In my opinion it’s the best Spider-Man movie to date, and ranks pretty high in the MCU overall. It’s a very good movie with a character that really needed to be in the MCU.
- Finally an age-appropriate Peter Parker!
- Spider-Man back in the MCU where he belongs
- Tom Holland is really a fantastic Parker/Spider-Man
- Good action, but also an appropriate amount of laughs and humor
- Several of the major action sequences are a bit too dark and could use just a bit more clarity