The Marvel Universe has been building and building for almost a decade now. Their continuum of solid storytelling and films emulating the comic book experience have held them in good stead whereas their direct competition has opted for a grimdark approach only to have it recently fixed with the stunning Wonder Woman. The poster boy of Marvel Comics finally makes his full-length debut in the MCU and boy, is it good to be reintroduced to Peter Parker. Peter is every one of us. He is an awkward high school teen who struggles to ask a girl out, pass his classes and maintain a solid social life.
In what feels like an amalgam of Wes Anderson and John Hughes films, director Jon Watts brings us Homecoming, a deliciously timed, astutely colourful, fantastically endearing film about how incredibly weird, wonderful and trying life as a teenager in high school can be. It just so happens our hero is also your neighbourhood-friendly superhero.
Homecoming feels incredibly authentic amidst the occasional action scenes, with teenagers looking like teenagers, gangly, young, all over the place. The soundtrack is also a feast for the ears – ranging from the classic Spidey theme to The Ramones. A definite character in the film is also the warm-hued portrayal of everyday life inNew York, specifically Queens with its diverse set of denizens.
With a timeline jump from the aftermath of The Avengers battle with the Chitauri in New York, to just after Captain America Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming sets Peter up as the hero who does good because that is what his genetic make-up consists of. He puts on his suit, but he still rescues cats from trees, helps the elderly with directions and gets rewarded with churros. He patiently awaits the call from Tony Stark for his next mission as part of the Avengers, but the call never comes and Peter constantly seeks the opportunity to define himself as a hero in his own right.
With no mention of Uncle Ben, no “with great power comes great responsibility”, no origin story and no emo fringes (thanks, Sam Raimi) we relate to this version of Peter Parker. The sheer confidence in both storytelling and the stellar, career-making turn by Tom Holland we see more than just Spider-Man. Complimented by scene-stealing performances from Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Zendaya, Holland is so confident in this performance he makes some of the other Avenger team members look absolutely stiff in their roles. He gets to flex his muscles in well-devised action scenes, particularly a neighbourhood chase which is unbelievably inventive.
My only gripe with Spider-Man: Homecoming would be the classic MCU underdeveloped villain. Michael Keaton has now been Batman, Birdman and The Vulture but his avian-comic proclivity feels like it has reached its cul de sac. There is a menacing undertone to this character which could work if given the necessary amount of building, but he feels rushed and tagged on. His suit design is also horrendous and reminded me of the Power Ranger-esque wardrobe of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin in 2002’s Spider-Man.
Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau’s appearances are wonderfully understated and never detract or feel tacked on to sell the film. Another Avenger also makes an appearance during the film, but it is so beautifully incorporated that just reaffirms the fact that Feige and the Marvel/Disney team have hit a stride of confidence which is undeniable.
I love this version of Spider-Man. Rather, I love this version of Peter Parker. He is one of the few comic book characters where his hero alias does not deviate from his everyday personality at all. What you see is what you get. Tobey will always be a part of the awe of seeing Spidey fly for the first time on the big screen. Andrew did a mighty fine job in films that missed something. But Tom Holland is Peter Parker.
Marvel’s golden son has indeed come home, and he is truly amazing.