Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first standalone appearance of Marvel’s wallcrawler in the shared Cinematic Universe, following his debut in Captain America: Civil War. It’s a joint venture between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios with director Jon Watts, best known for work on a small, yet acclaimed production titled Cop Car, arriving after a lackluster effort from Sony Pictures with the Amazing franchise.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, proves that Spider-Man has been one of the most under- and misused comic book characters in cinema, despite a pair of unforgettable films from Sam Raimi in the early 2000s.
Homecoming tells the story of Peter Parker before, during, and after Captain America: Civil War, heavily tied to 2012’s The Avengers right out of the gate. It all means this is a film which fans of Easter eggs and connections to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe are going to eat up but more importantly focuses on a young form Parker. When Peter is not tied up with studying for an academic decathlon, he spends his time solving petty crimes on the street, entertaining locals, and reporting all of his work to Tony Stark in hopes of one day getting the call to be an Avenger. Such an element has not been included in the super hero genre which often substitutes character for spectacle -- but not this time.
The 15-year-old Parker has gone from temporarily living in a luxurious hotel, flying on a private jet, and fighting alongside the Avengers in a Tony Stark-provided lifestyle to riding the New York City subway to high school where he is not exactly the most popular kid.
Reprising the titular role is 20-year-old Tom Holland. It’s no surprise, following his Civil War debut as the character, when Holland brings an impressive balance of the heroic, charming Spider-Man and awkward teenage Peter who struggles to get the girl. Such a theme is welcome and constant. Peter is repeatedly tossed into situations which force him to choose between enjoying his high school years or answering the call of being a hero, providing a brilliant inner conflict which keeps the film grounded and, to an extent, the most relatable entry from Marvel Studios.
Not grounded is the villain -- literally. The first character revealed in the movie, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is ready to take off from the jump as the former Batman actor steps into a role which wreaks havoc on Spider-Man’s life when the wallcrawler gets in the way of his illegal underground business. While the Vulture’s visual effects are fantastic and he serves as a worthy villain to this self-contained adventure, it is one particular scene which see Keaton’s Toomes outside of his Vulture costume which is most memorable of all. Watts managed to craft the most suspenseful sequence of the film with no super hero costumes or action necessary by bringing the best out of his cast members and writers.
Action sequences, however, manage to be massive. Parker's adventures as Spider-Man often find him in the middle of treacherous situations which are caused by his own ambitions. While the character ends up attempting to rescue a split-in-half ferry boat and battling his nemesis on the outside of an airplane, the sequences never feel blown out of the movie's contained nature. The stakes never raise to a save-the-world level of crisis which is a wise choice for the character who doesn't yet qualify as an Avenger.
All things considered, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the most fun you will have at the movies this summer. Rooting for Peter Parker becomes an absolute blast as Holland and his supporting cast of Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, and Laura Harrier -- none of them older than 25 -- convey their passion to be involved with the film throughout. Not to mention, a few scenes with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark help guide the film, always steering clear of becoming Iron Man-centric, as the veteran Avenger serves as a mentor for the young Parker and integral thread for the movie.
Topping it all off, as always when this composer is involved, is Michael Giacchino’s score. A fun tune accompanies Peter Parker while menacing tones surround the villainous Toomes, with a touch of Avengers beats tossed in as well.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a brilliantly fun film which re-imagines the popular Marvel character with little, if any, room for criticism. 5 out of 5 stars.