Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Spider-Man movies are almost the OG of the new wave of superhero movies. What blossomed as a beautiful flower in the first two Tobey Maguire movies was soon overfed in the third and neglected in the (thankfully) brief Andrew Garfield era. After years of miring in the Sony wasteland, Sony finally shared the rights and let Spidey join the MCU, with his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War.
Spider-Man: Homecoming starts out eight years back after the Battle of New York that took place in The Avengers. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton taking a different Birdman role as the Vulture) and his crew are cleaning up when a covert government agency walks in and steals the site from him. Pissed off, Toomes & co. decide to keep the tech and start making black market weapons.
Two months after the events of Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is waiting for a call from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) for his next assignment. That call doesn’t come. Peter, like any other high schooler, has the drama of awkward crushes and school bullies and can’t wait for the school day to be done. However, once the bell rings, he goes and attempts to solve petty crimes on the streets of New York City.
During a bank robbery, Spidey discovers criminals are using high-tech weapons. This takes him down a path that brings him into conflict with the Vulture … and Iron Man. Tony thinks Peter is too young and immature to handle these big problems and challenges Peter to think of Spider-Man as more than just a suit.
By the time this movie had come out, we had experienced five Spider-Man movies. We did not need to re-learn the origin story of the wall-crawler, and the film makers did the right thing and skipped it. But, it still does open with an origin story which I love. It gives us a much more man-on-the-street perspective of the damage that the Avengers’ victories have caused — and not just the physical damage. With covert agencies swooping in and stealing contracts, the “little guy” is bound to get angry and a little anarchistic. Thus, we get the Vulture, and I love how they made that story happen.
The movie starts out strong with some truly laugh-out-loud moments that continue throughout, and a lot of the laughs come from background characters. As it progresses, it feels more or less like a typical coming-of-age movie with all the teenage drama that entails. This was another direction that I highly appreciated; the Maguire and Garfield versions made Spider-Man feel almost a little too romanticized. Holland’s Spider-Man is much more relatable, and that’s the ultimate heart of any Spider-Man story. He’s just a kid like me.
Speaking of being a kid like me, I love the relationship he has with Tony Stark. Stark is an idol and the closest thing he has to a father figure. However, he feels like he isn’t taken seriously. He wants to play with the big boys while Tony is giving his Spidey suit protocols with the names “training wheels” and “baby monitor.” Peter sneaks around and tries to do work behind Tony’s back, and when he’s caught, he’s grounded from the suit. The way the story between Peter and Tony wraps up is very satisfying.
However, the movie feels like it contains a good amount of filler. Peter’s investigation of where the black market weapons come from felt like an overly-long plot point that could have been condensed. It was cool to see Aaron Davis (Donald Glover), a potential Prowler, but did we really need that scene? Ok … we got the interrogation voice, so maybe it was worth it.
I did appreciate the detour to D.C., but the reason is a little selfish. As a kid, Spider-Man was my favorite hero, and I wanted to be him. I grew up in the D.C. area, however, and D.C. ain’t exactly known for its skyscrapers. The scene in D.C. gave me hope that perhaps I can still be a webslinger in the DMV. Also, shout-out to the line, “Maryland? What’s there?”
Anyway, back to reviewing this movie. It starts out strong, drags in the middle, and by the end, it lands a soft punch. It’s unfair, but it just doesn’t end with the same emotional resonance that the first two Tobey movies had. I remember walking out of the theater thinking it was a fun movie but not one I’m desperate to watch again. Having re-watched it, I have had a change of heart. It’s a movie that’s full of little gems and nuggets that, with more watches, rewards the viewer — dragging middle be damned.