Movie Reviews

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Review: Welcome Home, Spidey!

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Quick Take: Spider-Man: Homecoming is truly the homecoming of the character to the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Spider-Man is finally where he belongs.

It’s been a crazy 10 years for Marvel Studios. What started out with a C-list character getting a movie with Iron Man in 2008 has since blossomed into a multimedia empire, the likes of which haven’t been seen in entertainment in, well, ever. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a juggernaut that releases three films a year, a mixture of character origin stories and sequels, and while not every character is still owned by Marvel (and parent company Disney), the MCU has still made it work by crafting a tapestry of unique characters and situations that are all seemingly tied together with one common bond, in one unified universe. But three properties have always been missing from the fun; the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, both owned by 20th Century Fox, and Spider-Man, owned by Sony. The latter has seen his fair share of movies, some good, most bad, but Spider-Man is an integral part of the Marvel Universe. Marvel Studios understood that and did whatever it could to bring Spidey home. And now, the aptly named Spider-Man: Homecoming is here, and Spider-Man is finally where he has always belonged.

Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, a young teen, still in high school, who, after being bitten by a radioactive spider, has unique powers. As seen in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has taken Peter under his wing and has given him a suit that accentuates those powers, and he has tasked Spidey to be on-call until he is needed. Spider-Man protects his neighborhood in Queens, stopping petty crimes and helping old ladies across the street, and is always waiting for that call from Stark or Stark’s second-in-command, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

When he’s not patrolling the neighborhood, Peter is an awkward student and a member of the school’s academic competition team, headed by Liz (Laura Harrier), who Peter has a crush on. Also on the team is Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), a cerebral bully who refers to Peter as “Penis” Parker, and Michelle (Zendaya), who has a snide comment for everything that Peter does. Both make Pete’s life hell in high school. Pete’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), and his aunt, May (Marissa Tomei) are his only saving graces, well, that and he’s a super hero who once fought Captain America (Chris Evans) in Germany.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

On the flip side of Peter Parker and his John Hughes-like high school life is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a city contractor who lost the biggest contract ever after the Battle of New York (as seen in The Avengers), and has since taken to a life of crime to take care of his family by using stolen Chitauri artifacts to create new powerful weapons and gear. Toomes, who uses the weaponry to build a winged flying rig, along with the “tinkerer” of these artifacts, Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus), and Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine), a worker given electrical gauntlets, are stealing all of the Chitauri artifacts they can find and selling the repurposed goods on the black market. This brings them in direct contact with Spider-Man, and that conflict is what drives most of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Director Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown) brings a level of humility and humanity to this version of Peter Parker. The iconic notes that make Spider-Man a beloved character are there, but they are carefully rearranged to fit him into the world of the MCU. And it works. While early ads and trailers were heavy with Iron Man scenes, the film, as a whole, doesn’t feature the Armored Avenger all that much. Stark acts as a guiding hand off-screen, but rest assured that this is Spider-Man’s film through and through.

The performances are possibly Spider-Man: Homecoming’s greatest strength. Holland nails both Peter and Spidey, and the audience gets a good feel for the struggles that he goes through day in, and day out. There was some gravitas in his performance as a high school kid struggling to just exist, juxtaposed with his heroism struggling to break free of the shackles placed upon him by Tony Stark. This is as close to the comic book version of Peter Parker as we have ever come.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Keaton’s Toomes/Vulture is a masterclass in how a comic book villain should be played. Make no mistake, Keaton is not a mustache-twisting enemy, but a real guy with real purpose and it comes across well on-screen. Keaton can convey a lot with a simple look on his face, and his Toomes ranks up there with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki as the best MCU villains to date. Keaton’s Vulture is the best Spider-Man villain so far, and that says a lot after Alfred Molina absolutely owned Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man: Homecoming does so much onscreen to not only properly introduce Peter Parker/Spider-Man to the greater MCU, but it also delivers a solid message. While the “Great Power/Great Responsibility” line is never spoken, or even hinted at, the meaning of that classic line hangs over Spidey’s struggle to overcome and save the day. And its not the suit that makes the man.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

I also want to give a shout out to the soundtrack in Spider-Man: Homecoming. From the usage of the classic “Spider-Man” theme song from the 1960s integrated into Michael Giacchino’s score, to the selection of great pop and rock songs that play throughout, music plays a big role here, as it has in countless high school films in the past, and Watts has done a spectacular job nailing down a great soundtrack from top to bottom.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is truly a homecoming for the Spider-Man character. After years of legal issues involving the rights, and later the studios posturing over the character, seeing Peter Parker/Spider-Man interacting with Iron Man, and walking the halls of Avengers headquarters, and knowing that his future is now intertwined in the events to come in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 (as well as his own films) gives fans old and new so much to be excited over. Spider-Man has had an up and down cinematic history, but now he is finally home, and fans have so much to be excited about.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is rated PG-13 and is in theaters on July 7.

SCORE: 4.8 out of 5

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