Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.
This is the third iteration of Spider-Man in less than 10 years so anyone could be forgiven for feeling that ‘Homecoming’ was a little unnecessary, especially given the previous versions were generally pretty decent movies. So this movie was up against it from the outset to impress and thankfully it does, motioning in a new era for the character as part of the MCU with a fun and confident movie that goes back to its roots. For the first time they’ve actually cast someone who looks age appropriate for the character in Tom Holland, and if his little cameo in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ was sufficient to whet the appetite, he’s really good here carrying the film in his own right. The film nicely blends the more traditional superhero fare with the coming of age elements at school that have always set Spider-Man apart from his contemporaries, and I thought it was a very enjoyable movie.
The plot picks up at some point after the events of ‘Civil War’, when Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was first introduced, and we join him as he’s mixing his time between school and his budding career as a vigilante. He’s on an ‘internship’ for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark (who pops up a couple of times) and the film neatly establishes Peter’s eagerness to impress and to get more involved, whilst tempering that with reminders that he’s still a child who is inexperienced and ill equipped for some of the challenges ahead. The primary villain in this outing is ‘The Vulture’, played superbly by Michael Keaton, who is comfortably one of the better comic book villains of recent times. It helps that he’s played with a gleeful amount of ham by Keaton, that he’s reasonably sympathetic and provided with a believable motivation for his actions. It helps further that his storyline slots in nicely with the wider narrative of the movie, and I was impressed with how smoothly this was achieved. The casting is down to a tee in virtually every role, from Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, to Laura Harrier as Peter’s crush, and I especially enjoyed Martin Starr’s deadpan turn as an unenthusiastic teacher.
It’s a hard ask to expect a young actor like Tom Holland (albeit one of his calibre) to lead another Spider-Man outing, but that he does so with such assurance is a large part of why this is a fun movie. His Parker is legitimately a kid and we see him get scared, we see him sweat when he realises he’s in over his head, and we see him get believably nervous around the girl he fancies. This light tone is important to the movie, but it feels natural and not ridiculous (think of the stupid quips in the middle of the battles in ‘Age of Ultron’), and the director perfectly balances the comical moments with the darker elements when the villains come into play. If the film has a flaw, it’s that it can’t resist concluding with another CGI laden fight towards the end (as all comic book movies seem to be doing lately, both good and bad), but it’s better than most because of the dynamic that’s been established between Parker and The Vulture.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is a strong ‘proper’ introduction for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, with fun characters, a slick plot and a mastery of tone that perfectly balances the different elements that contribute to a ‘Spider-Man’ story, and it bodes well for the character going forward.
Directed By: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr., Jacob Balaton, Laura Harrier and Tony Revolori