So far, we’ve had three different actors playing Spiderman and five films (six if we count the appearance of the current incarnation in Captain America: Civil War). But what response to the web-slinger will Spiderman: Homecoming garner?
So far in the Marvel cinematic universe we’ve seen the Toby Maguire take on the spandex-clad Spider, full of angst and pining after Kirsten Dunst’s MJ; Andrew Garfield’s loose attempts as he was massively outshone by his villains (Jamie Foxx and Rhys Ifans) and undercut by some form of conspiracy relating to his late father’s research. Tom Holland is the latest actor to don the suit, but will his (genuine) youth alongside a mostly fresh-faced cast and indeed, director in form of Jon Watts breathe new life into the franchise?
Spiderman: Homecoming introduces us first to the villain of the piece. Adrian Toomes (played by the legendary Michael Keaton) has his salvage business shut down due to an initiative of Tony Stark/Iron Man’s (played as expected, by Robert Downey Jr) in 2012. Rather than go quietly we see him begin to use some of salvaged alien tech from the battle for NY from Avengers Assemble to create his wings to become The Vulture.
Four years on from this scene, and we’re dropped in right where Civil War left off, Peter Parker has returned home from his fight with other superheroes following the internal power struggle in The Avengers. However he is told by Stark that he is not ready to become an Avenger and is given a minder in the form of Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) who is set to look after him and stop him getting into trouble.
By not being as backstory heavy as the previous instalments have been, and simply dropping us into the frenetic life of a 15 year old student trying to balance academia, awkward love interests and crime-fighting whilst wearing lycra, the film feels a lot more energised and believable, as far as a superhero flick can be of course, than its predecessors. As the feature builds towards Spiderman’s final confrontation with The Vulture we are shown the story from its multiple angles; the perspectives of Peter/Spiderman, his best friend Ned who discovers his friend’s double life, Tony Stark and Happy and even The Vulture, who in no small way, is lent an air of humanity by the excellent characterisation from Keaton, who gives the villain an air of ambiguity and relevance not usually seen in comic book adaptations until Netflix Marvel crossovers such as Daredevil, it feels far more real than what has come before. The energy provided across the board however is not without one drawback. The web of the story tends to weave and cross at many points, and by getting so much into one film from high school parties, a literal Homecoming ceremony, academic decathlons and of course, superhero crimefighting and action sequences, the plot can feel a little jarring and convoluted at points.
Production-wise the film has been shot and cut extremely well. Action sequences in particular are clean and easy to follow with no overdone lighting and maddening camera work to try and ‘enhance’ the experience. Watts, as a director, has done an admirable job of ensuring that the cast is slimmed down enough that you get a genuine sense of who the cast are, and what their relationship is to Peter. Peter himself is exactly how Spiderman should be (in this reviewers’ opinion at least), he simply LOVES being Spiderman, he gets to make the world a better place and of course, zip all over the city at speed. It’s worth noting as well that some artistic license has been taken in the casting as well, in the name of diversity. No longer is the cast a total whitewash, with the actual diversity of Spiderman’s Brooklyn being reflected across his school and friendship group. It’s been done well with no sense of tokenism or box-ticking and also means that not every character has to be labelled with a comic book trope of ‘how they should be’.
Overall, the film is excellent. It doesn’t feel like a Marvel cash cow or an exercise in franchise-building and feels like the cast all genuinely love what they’ve been doing and that it was fun, precisely how a superhero movie should be.
Author: Steve, Southgate Store