The following review is spoiler-free.
I remember where I was in February 2015 when Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures announced that they were working together to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For some reason, the news was made very late at night, and I was falling asleep. However, I heard my phone buzz with a Twitch notification, and I was curious why my favorite streamers from Kinda Funny were doing their news show at 11 PM. I turned on my phone to see the two hosts drunkenly celebrating the announcement. (If you’re curious, here’s the link to the stream.)
The news of a Spider-Man/MCU collaboration was a joyous moment for many. It was a huge moment for the MCU that seemingly made their upcoming movie slate even more exciting. The MCU would get a character they were sorely missing, and Spider-Man would be saved from the Sony Pictures nosedive.
Despite the excitement, the news wasn’t met with passionate celebrations from everyone.
“Do we really need a second Spider-Man reboot?” said the skeptics. “The original movie came out 13 years ago, and the first reboot was only three years ago,” they argued.
Two years later, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has released and is the character’s first solo movie in the MCU. So, how will the skeptics receive the movie? Does it justify a second reboot?
The answer to the former is “They will like it”. To the latter, I say, “Not really, but it’s still great.”
“Homecoming” is the best interpretation of Peter Parker to date, and while it doesn’t reinvent what it means to be a Spider-Man movie, “Homecoming” is a lovingly crafted film that shows why the character is so endearing in the first place.
Tom Holland is undoubtedly the best part of “Homecoming”. While Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both played certain aspects of Peter Parker well, Tom Holland completely embodies the character. Holland’s quick-witted, yet bumbling interpretation of Peter is spot on. (He even has the perfect Spider-Man voice.)
While previous Spider-Man movies have come close, “Homecoming” truly makes Spider-Man feel like a “neighborhood” hero. Peter Parker is still learning to be Spider-Man, and this movie’s hero-in-progress tale nails what makes the character relatable in the comics.
As a movie about a “neighborhood” hero, “Homecoming” feels a lot smaller in scale than many big-budget superhero films, and I adored this change. This is exemplified best in the movie’s villain, the Vulture. Played by Michael Keaton, the character is simply a working-class man trying to support his family.
While Keaton’s character doesn’t get enough screentime to place the Vulture in the “great superhero movie villain” echelon, the character is given actual motivations, and Keaton plays Vulture with just the right amount of menace. Plus, a tense (and funny) scene between Holland and Keaton may be one of the best hero-villain interactions in any superhero film.
With Spider-Man now being a part of the MCU, other elements of the universe seep into “Homecoming”, with Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Jon Favreau’s Happy being the biggest factors. These characters do not overshadow Peter, but rather contribute to the hero-in-progress story.
(On a side note, some, like me, may find it jarring when MCU cameos and references appear in “Homecoming”. After seeing Peter Parker live in his own universe for almost 15 years, it’s certainly weird seeing other Marvel characters in a solo Spider-Man movie.)
The remaining side characters in “Homecoming” are the weakest part of the film. While the performances are all admirable, they only seem to appear when the plot finds them important. Aunt May, played by Marisa Tomei, is in “Homecoming” very little, and the drama between Peter and May does not work because she is such a minor character.
Jacob Batalon plays the lovable, Lego-loving Ned, who is Peter’s best friend. He is a great source of comic relief, but much like Aunt May, he could have been featured more prominently in the movie.
With many of the characters having limited screen time, Tom Holland truly anchors the movie. “Homecoming” often goes several minutes with Peter on his lonesome. Holland carries these scenes well, but the lack of human interaction often makes “Homecoming” feel a little hollow. I hope to see Peter be less of a lone wolf in the future Spider-Man solo films.
Looking to the future, “Homecoming” ends well, establishing multiple threads to be resolved in “Avengers: Infinity War” and the next solo film.
Despite its necessary ties to the MCU, “Homecoming” still feels like a Spider-Man movie, and that’s what makes it so good. The MCU Peter Parker is brave and smart, and while he may be a bit headstrong, he has a big heart. “Homecoming” is about both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and while that may sound silly, this distinction gives the movie the perfect balance of action and heart.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” lives up to the hype of Spider-Man joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s biggest characters, and “Homecoming” treats the character with deserving respect. Peter Parker is portrayed wonderfully by Tom Holland. Peter is a superhero in training in “Homecoming”, and this underdog storyline helps make the character as relatable and endearing as he is in the comics. While Michael Keaton’s Vulture could have used more screentime, he is one of the better MCU villains. (Spider-Man 1 and 2 still hold the title for the best Spider-Man movie villains.) Side characters like Aunt May and Ned also could have benefitted from more screentime, but Holland shows that he is wholly capable of carrying the movie. “Homecoming” may not change what it means to be a Spider-Man movie, but by skipping the origin story and focusing on Peter Parker, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a true win for fans and newcomers alike.