Released: 5th July 2017
Directed By: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Robert Downey Jr
Reviewed By: Van Connor
Here we are: nine years and $11 billion dollars at the worldwide box office later and we finally finally have a fully-fledged Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man movie. To be frank, after so long thinking it might never happen, Spider-Man: Homecoming being merely serviceable would probably be fair enough for purpose, alas Marvel and their creative team up their game instead to deliver something the likes of which the genre has never really seen before, in delivering not only a bonafide coming-of-age Spidey tale, but an outright Millennial superhero movie to boot. In short, it’s the single most fun bout of cinematic action the webslinging wallcrawler has ever received, and it crowns an instant star in series lead Tom Holland.
Two months on from the events of Captain America: Civil War and Peter Parker’s life of street-level heroics has remained relatively unchanged. With the lack of evolution frustrating the superpowered teen – who counts down the school day by the second, waiting for another chance to slip the costume on – he’s more than eager to take on a deadly gang of criminals utilising recovered alien technology in order to further their illegal exploits. Mentor Tony Stark warns Peter to stay away however, only enticing Peter further toward proving his worth to the Iron Avenger – and all whilst hiding his alter-ego from doting aunt May and trying to win the affections of glamorous classmate Liz (Laura Harrier).
Even those already taken in by Holland’s brief appearance in last year’s Civil War will find they ain’t seen nothing yet, with this refreshingly youthful and energetic take on the iconic superhero a radical departure from the doom-and-gloom sensibilities afforded predecessors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Bursting with charisma, screen appeal and outright like ability, Holland’s one heck of a find as the new Spidey, and though Homecoming – the most industry-in-jokey title imagineable – succeeds for a number of reasons, Holland is without question its biggest.
Those under the impression this’ll be a case of Iron Man stealing the show though need not worry, with Robert Downey Jr. (in what’s ultimately four short scenes) providing a solid pedigree for the incoming younger star, and standing equally well among engaging supporting cast members such as Marisa Tomei, Tony Revolori, Zendaya, and a veritable who’s-who of US cable comedy talent. Michael Keaton proves a predictably impressive antagonist, injecting real gravitas into a potentially stock villain figure meanwhile, but it’s Jacob Batalon and Jon Favreau who steal the show as Peter and Stark’s non-powered BFFs respectively.
Behind the camera, director Jon Watts knows how to handle the singular energy and airflow that comes with a Spider-Man picture, and with a breezy, laugh-out-loud funny screenplay by Horrible Bosses alums Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley leaning on everything from John Hughes to Brian Michael Bendis, the stage is set for the most unexpectedly poignant and hilarious slice of comic-book action the MCU has seen since Ant-Man – with which Homecoming arguably skews closest in tone. There’s a boatload of Spidey legacy references in there for the fans, and even some rather clever background development of the wider MCU to boot, but where Homecoming will doubtless win audiences over is in its unapologetic grasp of upbeat character-driven dramedy that just so happens to come wrapped in all the trimmings of what’s sure to be one of the summer’s biggest and best blockbusters.
In so far as the landmark Marvel/Sony deal that brought Spidey into the MCU goes, Sony were doubtless expecting to be gifted a box office hit, Marvel have done something far smarter however: they’ve made a great movie too.