film mini-review: spider-man homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming was directed by Jon Watts and stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture, Jacob Batalon as Ned, Zendaya as Michelle, Laura Harrier as Liz, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

This was a film that I didn’t see coming.  Having been influenced by Sony’s five previous attempts at making a Spider-Man film, Spider-Man was a character that I simply didn’t care about.  I understood that he was beloved by comic book readers around the world, and that those who liked or loved the previous films were in the same boat, but I had pretty much decided that Spider-Man was just a comic book character that I wasn’t going to relate to.  The biographies of the character that I had read online never seemed to match up to what I watched, and since the visual media was not providing me with the Peter Parker I wanted to see (and it was really the Peter Parker aspect that was lacking for me, the Spider-Man stuff was just fine), I’d given up.

Then came Sony’s financial troubles, the leaked emails showing discussions with Marvel about a collaborative effort with the character in an attempt to earn some cash, and the eventual announcement that Spider-Man was coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I was very skeptical about this whole idea based upon my previous attempts with the character, but I was surrounded by people who were thrilled with this, so I decided to go into it with an open mind and see what happened.

What happened was a first appearance by Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and I had the biggest grin on my face during the couple of scenes he was in.  It wasn’t much of a sample size, but it looked like they might have finally gotten the Peter Parker I wanted to see right.  He was an awkward, anxious fifteen-year-old kid who was so nervous in Tony Stark’s presence, especially when he started to realize that Stark knew that he was Spider-Man.  It was a nice teaser for his own solo film, and I looked forward to that film greatly, despite the fact that I was worried about the collaboration between Marvel and Sony.

I didn’t need to be worried.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fantastic film filled with humor and heart and great action and a wonderful twist I didn’t see coming and, most importantly, the Peter Parker I’ve always wanted to see on screen.  This fifteen-year-old kid who is struggling with going back to being a high school student after going on a mission with Tony Stark and fighting alongside the Avengers has a great story arc.  Even though the trailers that Sony put out gave away far too much of the film, leading me to know what was going to happen more often than not, there were still plenty of moments that surprised me.  The characters were superb.  Peter’s best friend Ned was a particular highlight, as was the girl with no friends Michelle, and I even liked their interpretation of Flash Thompson.  (“Penis” Parker, anyone?)  I loved that the group of kids were all a bunch of math and science fanatics and that a large plot point centered around an academic decathlon team that they were all on.  And the main villain, Adrian Toomes/Vulture as portrayed by Michael Keaton, was a memorable villain who made an impact on the film in many different ways.  You understood his motivations, you understood why he acted the way he did in certain situations, and when Toomes and Peter finally come face to face, it’s in a truly memorable way.  There is very little about this film that I didn’t like, and I was not expecting that.

Score: 9.5/10