After an impressive opening weekend and rave reviews worldwide, it’s fair to say that Spider-Man: Homecoming is the Spider-Man film we’ve been waiting a long time to see. With a young actor (Tom Holland) who has already embodied the titled character seemingly with such ease, the sky is finally the limit for our favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a direct follow-on from Captain America: Civil War. We get to see the fall-out of Peter Parker’s involvement, and how he juggles his new found ambition to be apart of the Avengers team, as well as the struggles of being a normal kid feeling like an outsider. It’s a great twist on the Superhero origins story by Sony/Marvel, giving a fresh take on Spidey’s beginnings, as he learns that being a hero doesn’t come easy and it’s not always about saving the world. Peter, equipped with a new suit courtesy of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), as well as a babysitter in the form of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), sets out on the streets of Queens to be the hero he longs to be. Unfortunately for Spidey, this is far from the polished wall-crawling, sky-scraper-swinging Spider-Man we know he’ll become and we’re treated to a more awkward, clumsy, loveable goof as he struggles to find his place in the heroic world, and more importantly, in high school.
Homecoming is a home-run not just for the titled hero, but for Sony and Marvel too. It’s the most surprising film since Guardians of the Galaxy and equally as fun. Jon Watts delivers a fun, vibrant and impressively self-aware story that lays the foundations to grow a compelling character-arc over the coming years. Rather than being first and foremost a Superhero story, this tells like a high school coming-of-age tale (which is what the Studios were both looking for), centred around a young boy learning to find his place in life with the superpowers he still doesn’t fully understand how to use. John Hughes comparisons have been made and it’s not hard to see the influences within the film itself. Influences are also taken from the comics of course, with the film borrowing more inspiration from the Civil War comics looking at Stark and Parker’s growing relationship. It’s welcoming, also, to get little nods to in-jokes such as how would Spider-Man fare without the New York City Skyscrapers to get around with such ease. Homecoming also has a killer soundtrack that packs a punch and fits in perfectly with the theme of the film about Spider-Man at this part of his early heroic journey. Peter Parker is perfectly represented as the geeky outcast that we all know him to be, as we get a Peter in all his awkward, solemn glory, portrayed wonderfully by Tom Holland. The supporting cast do an equally fantastic job. Downey Jr. is on form as ever, and worries about this being an Iron Man film can be left at the door. Jon Favreau is always lovable in the Happy Hogan role as he reluctantly has to keep an eye over the young hero-in-training. As heartbreaking as it may be for some to see Michael Keaton in a Marvel film after being one of DC’s most iconic heroes, he’s brilliantly menacing in his role as the film’s villain, even if the stakes do feel a little low – something which Marvel has come under criticism for time and time again. And Holland’s young co-stars all hit their notes perfectly, especially his on-screen best pal Jacob Batalon playing Ned.
Spider-Man seems to be that house-hold name who has always struggled with consistency. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy was good, as was Tobey Maguire – with Spider-Man 2 being the standout film. But Spider-Man 3 was almost unanimously hated across the fan-base (emo Peter Parker didn’t go down well with fans) and the films haven’t really dated well at all. There’s a helluva lot of love for Andrew Garfield in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man and by no means was he bad, but it was always hard to buy into him as a high school outsider. Garfield was always just a bit too geek-cool, and it was an incarnation that was was simply never quite believable. Added to that was the fact The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was all over the place and you worry for how a third film would have turned out with a then 30-something year old playing an 18-year old and a shotgun blast of a story. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, there finally seems to be a hope in the title. With the backing of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige producing and a young actor with time on his side, this incarnation of Spider-Man could finally reach the heights of popularity that his comic book incarnation has had for years.
When we talk iconic portrayals of Superheroes certain names instantly spring to mind. Christopher Reeves (Superman), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) to name just a few. Already there’s a sense that Tom Holland could be this generation’s big icon in the Superhero world. He’s managed to capture the essence of a character that Tobey Maguire even struggled with completely. And with the backing now of the machine that is Marvel Studios – coupled up with the fact he will feature in the Avengers: Infinity War (and an additional 3 titles after that), there’s a big future for Holland’s Spider-Man journey. At just 21 now – and two appearances already under his belt, he could easily go until the age of Andrew Garfield’s final portrayal of Peter Parker (31) and have been in enough outings to have made Spider-Man one of the greatest heroes for the next generation.
Is Spider-Man: Homecoming the best title in the Spider-Man series? It’s hard to say right now, only time will tell how it ages, but by being in contention already, hopes are high for the sequels that will come. In true Marvel fashion, it’s certainly the funniest, it’s the most diverse, and it’s the most unique. This is because we get to see a clumsy, unpolished Peter Parker still struggling to realise his own strength and what it means to be a hero. Overall it’s a great re-debut for the Webslinger. The film has its flaws, but perhaps the Studios are leaving room for Spidey to grow as a hero as he becomes more well-rounded in future titles. For now, it’s nice to know that Spider-Man is here to stay and that he fits in nicely to the Marvel Universe – and in time, maybe he could even become the star.