Spiderman Homecoming Review
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Spiderman Homecoming was masterful storytelling. It completely exceeded my expectations, and I had expected a great film. It was writing and directing at its best. As such, it is by far one of the best Marvel movies ever, not to mention an amazing movie overall. Director Jon Watts did an incredible job combining so many different elements, to make this not only an entertaining film, but a critically good one. Watts and the writers cleverly weave together a plot full of great action scenes, comedy relief and the second hand embarrassment characteristic of a high school coming of age drama. In particular, the direction of the early scenes highlight Watts’ precision in crafting multiple settings for Peter to inhabit, as two different personas. On top of the direction, the dialogue was Marvel at its best, remarkably moving between comedy and tension from beginning to end. As someone who was sad to see John Francis Daley leave Bones (in order to pursue screenwriting more), I am so glad to see him at his very best throughout this film. There is no doubt in my mind that this movie brought together the very best, and as such, created one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen.
This movie was promoted first and foremost as a coming of age drama, except one that is also part of the superhero genre. It is very much both of these, to the point that it is difficult to even separate the two. I would have to say however that on reflection, this film is very much about a high school kid coming to terms with himself and what makes him different, just in this case his major point of difference is superhero powers. You cannot completely separate Peter Parker from Spiderman, and that’s why this second reboot works so well, precisely because all aspects of who Peter Parker is are brought together. Carefully balanced, Peter’s different personas (and their associated problems) bleed into his separate identities. What Peter experiences as a high school kid and as Spiderman are completely entangled, these experiences affect both personas and his reactions to various situations.
The transitions between different scenes and plot points were seamless, as both aspects of Peter’s life come together, and interact with each other. The incredible score really set the tone, and enabled these smooth transitions very effectively. There’s nothing better than watching a movie such as this in a cinema full of other people that are just as invested as you are, on its opening day. The joy and tension is heightened precisely because you can feel everyone else reacting to what you are watching. The movie was littered with humourous lines and sequences that had the entire cinema laughing as one. Even better were the scenes in which you could feel the tension emanating from the entire audience, as Peter fought for his life, or even more so, at the great plot twist towards the end of the film.
From what I could tell, everyone in the cinema was shocked by the plot twist. I had heard from an early review that there was a great plot twist, and didn’t think much more of it until it showed up towards the end of the film. One thing I’ve complained to various people about the Marvel movies, is that often their villains are rather poorly constructed. In this case however, the Vulture is a well-rounded, even sympathetic villain at times. His motivations and actions are even understandable in the situation that he finds himself in, even though those actions are clearly immoral. And yet, the very plot twist that reveals the Vulture as Liz Allen’s own father makes the Vulture an even better villain. The best villains are often the ones connected to the hero, and it is clear that Peter battles many emotions over the Vulture once he learns the truth. It is this connection that causes Peter to use everything he has to save the Vulture. And in some small way, it is this determination to ultimately save him that suggests the Vulture will not reveal Peter’s identity to anyone. In another movie, this plot twist might seem cheap, simply added for shock value. Whilst it does shock, it also adds another layer of depth to the narrative and the villain’s storyline, which was already miles ahead of many earlier MCU villains.
I actually liked how the trailers were handled, for I had a preconceived idea where the different scenes would fit in, but they turned out to be wrong. I genuinely hate when you watch a movie and feel as if you’ve already seen it because the trailers show everything, but I didn’t think that was the case here. The trailers gave different impressions of the film’s focus, and as such, the unfolding storyline was just so much more interesting. One thing that stands out is that Tony Stark has a much smaller role than anticipated based on the trailers. In fact, most of his scenes were in the trailers, emphasising that he was used more for promotion purposes and settling Peter into the MCU. This is a positive of the film, because it would not do for the first Spiderman movie of the MCU to be overshadowed by too much Tony Stark. I felt that his appearances were handled well, he was there just barely enough to keep an eye on Peter as a mentor, and yet allow for Peter to grow and fight independently of him.
Tony’s inclusion however is a critical aspect of Peter’s journey. Without Tony’s presence to begin with, Peter would not be on his way to eventually joining the Avengers, nor would he be as determined to do so. Furthermore, it is Tony’s absence that propels his story forward, as Peter is desperate to prove his worth. And yet, it is this desperation which leads to him putting people in danger, and earning Tony’s disappointment. We learn that all along, Tony has been listening to Peter, though his lack of communication suggested otherwise. Whilst Peter is demoralised on Tony taking the suit back, he chooses not to give up. In doing so, he fights harder and smarter, earning back Tony’s trust. This aspect of Peter’s journey is so important because it emphasises that he’s still a kid learning to be a superhero, and makes mistakes along the way. This Spiderman’s genius lies in the fact that Peter is constantly learning, to improve not only his skills, but how he reacts to situations. Even by the end of the movie, Peter has not stopped learning. He recognises that he is not yet ready to join the Avengers, even as Tony is ready to announce his acceptance into the Avengers to the media (and I loved that Pepper showed up for a couple of minutes, and she and Tony are back together!).
I enjoyed the first post credits scene with the Vulture in prison, as his decision not to reveal Peter’s identity references his earlier decision to give Peter an out, and request a thank you for not killing him. It does appear to suggest however, that the other man may come after Spiderman at some point. I especially enjoyed the second post credits scene, even though Marvel were obviously trolling us with it. I can’t believe they actually gave us a Captain America PSA extolling the importance of patience-even if you end up waiting a long time for something that you didn’t want/expect! It was certainly a humourous moment.
What worked well throughout this movie were the characters, particularly the kids. Whilst I didn’t care much for Liz as a love interest (mostly she just wasn’t very interesting to me), I really enjoyed Peter’s interactions with the other characters. There were so many great friendship moments between him and Ned, and it’s significant that Ned discovers his secret early on, as the film is peppered with his questions, but more importantly, Ned is therefore able to help Peter out when he cannot rely on the help of anyone else, including Tony and Happy. And without Ned, Peter would certainly have died towards the end of the movie. I also loved the updated interpretations of Flash and MJ. I knew from the trailers that Michelle was going to be my favourite, but unfortunately she had few scenes apart from what we had already seen in trailers and sneak peeks. This was probably my one major criticism of the movie, because I felt she could’ve been utilised more, although it’s evident that she will have a larger role in the next movie. Michelle revealed as MJ was perhaps not too much of a shock for many in the audience, given that this has been a prevailing theory since Zendaya’s casting.
The acting in this movie was amazing. I have heard before from many people that they liked Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman. But this version is different, and in my opinion, better (although I did enjoy The Amazing Spiderman). Tom Holland impressed fans in Captain America: Civil War, and continues to do so. Both his Peter Parker and Spiderman were incredible, and brought a new vitality to the character. This version appears to combine the aspects of both personas into one amazing character. But it is not just Holland that brings a lot to the acting table, with RDJ, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori and Marisa Tomei bringing everything they have to their scenes. And I must admit, that I absolutely loved the final scene, in which May finally discovers Peter’s secret.
I highly recommend Spiderman Homecoming. At this stage, I’m even more excited for the next Spiderman instalment. And hopefully, the upcoming Marvel movies live up to the high bar that Spiderman has now set.