Spider-Man: Homecoming Finally Unites Fans of the Web-Slinger
By Devvon Eubanks
What defines a hero? Is it cool powers? Yellow spandex? Or is it something deeper, like a commitment to justice or a vow to protect the innocent? Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, classes and creeds, but since 1962 one wall-crawler has swung into the hearts of millions of readers, making him one of the most beloved superheroes of all time. Now, Tom Holland returns as the amazing Spider-Man after his stellar appearance in “Captain America: Civil War,” continuing his tutelage under Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). With a wonderful story, a fantastic new villain, and tons of quality humor like that of other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is one ride that fans won’t soon forget.
After fighting the Avengers, hanging out with Stark, and making himself known to the world, Peter Parker is having the time of his life and eagerly awaiting his next mission. However, Peter still has a life outside of his superhero persona, living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), attending high school with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and swooning over classmate love interest Liz (Laura Harrier). While out performing hero duties and ensuring the city’s safety, Parker comes across an assembly of ordinary bank robbers…using not-so-ordinary, high-tech weaponry. To make matters worse, Peter later finds a group of villains selling these dangerous, alien weapons, led by a man resembling a mechanical Vulture (Michael Keaton). What is the connection between this man and these weapons? And who exactly is the technical thief behind the mask? Though Tony tells Peter to be a “friendly neighborhood” hero and leave this threat to the professionals, Peter must put a stop to the Vulture and his cohorts and prove to Mr. Stark that he can be a true hero and protect those he loves.
From the beginning, the film continues the distinct connection to the MCU, going all the way back to the end of the first Avengers film and fast-forwarding to the events after “Civil War.” Similar to Wonder Woman in DC’s “Batman v. Superman,” we see a character who was introduced in a previous team-based movie now star in their own debut film. Because of this, the viewer is already familiar with Tom Holland as Peter, but now they get to see Parker in his natural environment. Early on, Peter shows his inexperience, excitement, and anticipation to work with Iron Man and be a hero, much like in the previous film. But his eager nature and willingness to do good makes him quite reckless, whether the outcome is serious or flat-out hilarious. Ultimately, the film is not centered on Peter in general, but more so around the supporting cast and how he matures as a hero because of them. Ned, for example, is a “sidekick” who is even more animated than Peter, which makes Parker become less so as”Homecoming” progresses. But there are times that Peter disappoints his best friend, and that helps him to become a better one. If anything, this film is reminiscent of the MCU’s first Iron Man movie, where Tony Stark was a reckless CEO who later matured and understood that his life and work were meant for greater things. By looking through this lens, it makes sense as to why Stark is Peter’s mentor, as the playboy sees the potential and flaws in this young lad as if he were looking at part of his younger self. Even the Vulture (an absolutely spectacular role by Keaton) helps Peter to mature by showing him that a villain could simply be a man who will do anything for his family if his back is to the wall, rather than a menacing dictator bent on world domination. In these ways and more, this movie is a transformative work that has a ton of character and shows a hero as a framework of development from his surrounding environment and the various experiences that he has.
But what about the action and the special effects? And is that crazy comedy still present? All of these are just as dynamic as the other more recent Marvel offerings. Most of the film does take place in New York City, so there aren’t any significant environmental changes outside of the concrete jungle, but there is enough diversity in the scenes and locales to bring some color to the flow of the story. The fight scenes are also immersive and easily place the viewer inside the comics with the various combat techniques and eye-popping special effects used. Web-slinging, web-shooting, insane acrobatics, energy blasts, and widespread destruction all keep viewers on the edge of their seats and glued to the screen. In fact, the fights between Spider-Man and the Vulture are extremely well-animated and are some of the best scenes in the film. Finally, the narrative also has a good balance of humor and seriousness throughout, with much of the former being quite memorable. Not only that, but there is a reoccurring cameo that is absolutely hysterical and should not be missed.
At the end of the day, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the Spider-Man film that fans have been waiting for, and is a welcome change of pace. If there are any minor gripes, it is more along the lines of wishing that some villains played more of a role other than the Vulture, and there is a notable lack of J. Jonah Jameson demanding pictures of Spider-Man so he can demonize him in the Daily Bugle. Fortunately, the film is jam-packed with so much material that these omissions are trivial at best. Of course there will be more of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker to go around when “Avengers: Infinity War” comes out next spring, but viewers should be satisfied with this hero, who does whatever he can for the city and for himself.