I don’t think I really mentioned how much I really enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming.
I know I’m a little late to the party but yeah I truly enjoyed it, I’m going to give it some time before I declare it’s my “favorite” but I think it’s up there and I figured I should but down some reasons why.
1) Diversity. In and of itself having a diverse cast doesn’t make a good movie. However for someone who grew up with an endless stream of early 2000s love letters to New York City, like Friends, Sex in the City, Will & Grace, and indeed the original Spiderman movies that took place in a seemingly fictional all white NYC, it was shocking (in a good way) to see the real life New York in all it’s multicultural multiracial glory, with Peter often the only white person in frame in the halls of his high school.
2) Peter is not a fuckboy. It would be all too easy and all to predictable for the writers and the director to pull the tired and deeply creepy Superhero trope of the hero manipulating the fact their love interest has feelings for their hero identity. Even though it’s put out there that Liz has feelings for Spider-Man, Peter actively resists using Spider-Man to get the girl. The temptation is there of course but he understands even in his hormonal brain that it’s not the right thing to do. In fact he decides against becoming Spider-Man at Liz’s party to impress her and is going to go in after Flash bullies him, and in part to make Ned “cool” in the eyes of their peers.
3) Peter feels real. It’s never bluntly stated in weepy monologue or anything but there’s a real relatable teenage desperation throughout Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. He wants to do something important, be someone, in part because he’s a loser and a nerd, in part you sense a need to get out of his apartment because it’s too painful, and in part because he’s a teenager and everything feels so immediate at that age. Likewise when he’s trapped under the warehouse roof you get the sense this is the first time he really gets it, it’s a tried trope that teenagers think they’re indestructible but they do in a way, and in that moment Peter realizes that Tony was right and he has been playing a dangerous adult game with very real risks.
4) Vulture translated well. Like with a lot of heroes dreamed up in Sliver Age of comics Spider-Man’s main villains have always been a little campy, colorful and goofy. While heroes like Batman have made their villains darker and more serious Spider-Man (and the Flash) never really have. Which has always made translating them onto the big screen a bit of a problem. Homecoming delivered a Vulture who’s character design was a terrifying nightmare (highlighting that Peter is really a child in a big scary world he doesn’t understand) while Michael Keaton gives an equal parts creepy and relatable Toomes. We get why he does what he does and can’t say if put in his shoes we wouldn’t do the same thing.
5) Tony’s behavior is understandable. Is Tony a bad dad/dick in this film? yeah yeah he is, but he’s also busy clearly shown as keeping too many balls in the air and in his very Tony way he’s guilty. We can see that Tony clearly brought Peter into this hero stuff in a fit of bad judgement and he knows it and also has no idea how to get this kid to quit the drug that is heroing.
6) Peter comes off as a teenager and it’s not condescending. This is a rarity, but Peter’s glued to his phone, very high school vibe and character are both pitch perfect teenager but also show real affection for generation Z. GenZ and their older Millennial siblings are so often treated as the downfall of everything because they love social media and smart phones it is a breath of fresh air to see a movie look at them and say “The Kids are alright”
7) The supporting characters are a revelation. We’ve seen Spider-man’s cast brought to the big screen twice already and it’s a nice to see a movie that knows Peter is a nerd/geek. Ned is a big part of that. It’s also nice to see Aunt May given some personality. In comics and the past two movie versions Aunt May has been a personalitiless widowed catholic grandma worrying and making soup. Here she has a personality a sense of humor, the worry for Peter is there but she’s not sitting in a corner praying or something. Also MJ, starting in the comics MJ was a sex kitten, wish fulfillment dream girl for Peter, here, she’s not here for him, she makes fun of him, but I also like that the movie doesn’t do the “they act like they hate each other because they’re in love!” BS, sure she teases Peter but she doesn’t hate him and he doesn’t hate her.
8) no Uncle Ben, no Spider. Like I said we’ve had two major Spiderman movie franchises already, Spider-Man in and of himself has always been one of the most popular of superheroes. We don’t need to see the origin all over again. Homecoming manages to skip the trap BvS fell into and we never see either the Spider or the death of Uncle Ben, indeed he’s never even mentioned. Nor does he need to be, we feel him in the worry between Aunt May and Peter when Peter got “fired”. We’re not told but shown Peter’s feels about making May worry, and the damage that Ben’s death has done to May all without having to hamfistedly throw his name around.
Any ways those are my reasons, I think Homecoming should serve as how to do a reboot of a franchise that’s maybe been around too many times. The energy and feel are so different it can be a little hard to remember that there were other Spider-man movies or that they’re related. Tom is clearly the most endearing and interesting Peter Parker and I’ll go out on a limb and say Spider-Man as well, I want more of his story and not just as part of the wider MCU. That might be my main issue, I know I’m unlikely to see this Spider-man in as many solo movies as I’d like It’d be great to have movies kinda like the Netflix shows where we all know they’re in the MCU and we mention things from it but mainly it’s just about the character in question and not tying his stuff to the wider story arch.