Spider-Man: Homecoming is the 3rd different version of the character in the last 15 years. What has set this version of the Spidey apart for many people is the fact that he is operating within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s not just a Sony controlled project.
Whilst this may have been Spider-Man’s first film with Marvel in the driving seat, Tom Holland obviously appeared as the character in Captain America: Civil War alongside Iron Man and co. This set up one of the core aspects of Homecoming, which is Peter Parker’s desire to prove himself to Iron Man and become a fully fledged Avenger. What really impressed with this compared to previous Spider-Man films though was director Jon Watts’ ability to mesh this Spider-Man story alongside Peter Parker’s high school drama. The name, Homecoming, and well as people from inside Marvel name checking John Hughes as an inspiration for the film clearly suggested that they wanted to take the character back to his roots as a genuine High School kid.
A lot of the marketing for the film showcased Robert Downey Jr. appearing in the film as Iron Man. There were some premature criticisms that the film would end up being an Iron Man film featuring Spider-Man, but thankfully that is absolutely not the case. It was a good marketing ploy to get more people interested, but this is absolutely Spidey’s film. And that’s good because the Tony Stark/Happy Hogan scenes are some of the weaker moments in the film. They feel as though they are in there just to add some extra connections with the wider MCU and some of the more forced humour. It probably didn’t help that the one great scene between Peter and Tony was heavily shown in the marketing, and lost a little of the emotional impact.
But it doesn’t matter too much as Homecoming is truly a Spider-Man film. And in terms of the representation of the character it could be looked at as the definitive Spider-Man film. By giving as much care to the character of Peter Parker as they do to Spidey he feels like the most well rounded iteration of the character. Holland’s Parker manages to be the awkward and doubt filled teen, but is always a likeable figure, rather than just mopey. We’re looking at you Toby Maguire. The humour and quips that he delivers as Spider-Man are absolutely on point. It makes the Spider-Man scenes fun. More than this though he captures Peter’s desire to prove himself to these figures he looks up to, and his desperation not to disappoint Tony. Not only does this film contain the best representation of the character, but also Holland’s performance is perfect.
Thankfully Marvel also managed to make the villain of the film, Michael Keaton’s Vulture, a genuinely interesting and threatening villain. They managed to stay away from their usual pitfalls of having some vague World-destroying plan, and just having them be a mirror of the hero, and instead gave his character a genuine motivation for what he was doing, and an interesting relationship to Spider-Man. By keeping him fairly low level it also makes a lot of sense as to why more Avengers aren’t involved, and it keeps his story relatable. Keaton himself is excellent, although you’ll rarely see a Keaton performance that isn’t. The Vulture definitely goes down as one of the best Marvel villains to date. His supporting villain Shocker felt fairly wasted. He really just gave another opportunity to show off some cool tech.
Of Peter’s supporting cast Ned was definitely the best of them. Jacob Batalon is funny and relatable in the role, and has good chemistry with Holland. Tony Revolori’s Flash Thompson is nice new direction to take the character. He isn’t the usual big tough bully, instead he’s a selfish, mean spirited, rich kid, and it works as a modern view of a bully. Marisa Tomei doesn’t get a huge amount to do as Aunt May, but it is definitely interesting to see where they will go with her, and May’s relationship to Peter in the next film. Zendaya as Michelle and Donald Glover as Aaron Davis are two characters that definitely get lost in the film. What little both have to do is great, and they are sure to get more focus in the sequels. Peter’s love interest in the film Liz is the only real disappointment; her character just comes across as bland and not hugely compelling.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is definitely the Spidey film that we have been waiting for. Tom Holland and the character are the stars of the film, unlike the villain stealing the show in Raimi’s first two movies. With good action, great humour, excellent performances, and only small nitpicks as problems this is the best Spider-Man film to date. A wonderful introduction into the MCU.