Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) will mark the third attempt at a Spider-Man franchise within the past fifteen years. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire as the titular character, spanned between 2002 and 2007 and, despite not being masterpieces, put the character and his story on the map for the millennial generation. Then, only five years later, Marc Webb rebooted the franchise with the rather promising The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), both starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Sony planned to build an entire franchise based on Garfield's Spider-Man, one that would compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, after poor reception to the second film and the script laying in developmental hell, their plans were killed when the MCU announced that they would be incorporating their own Spider-Man (Tom Holland) into Captain America: Civil War (2016). So, in the hands of the MCU, will Spider-Man: Homecoming be a success or another film for the spidery scrap heap?

Fresh from his superhero debut in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker is having a difficult time living the life of a normal teenager and is desperate for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to contact him with details of his next Avengers-style mission. However, Stark has other plans for his protégée and isn't quite ready for the 'training wheels' to come off. But, when Peter discovers a new threat to New York in the shape of Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton), he finds himself reaching for his spider suit within his mentor's go ahead.


When looking at a third Spider-Man franchise, the concept of dabbling with yet another origins story is a double edged sword. Will audiences be tired of hearing about how the costumed hero came to be, or will they disconnect if they don't know? Spider-Man: Homecoming could have easily fallen into the typical Spider-Man origins film formula, but it doesn't. And it doesn't matter, and this is down to Tom Holland. From the opening scenes of the film, in which Peter Parker is both narrating and filming the battle from Captain America: Civil War on his mobile phone in a truly millennial fashion, whilst simultaneously joining in the action, Holland gives his audience the truly playful Spider-Man that fans of the comic have been waiting for. He oozes likability, charm and comedy, yet at the same time he is still able to convey Parker's vulnerable side and that underneath the Spider-Man suit there is a wet-behind-the-ears 15 year old boy. As much as he emphasises the man in Spider-Man, Peter is still a teenager who is finding his feet as a superhero and this is what makes him so appealing, each time he is knocked down, he gets back up and tries again.

In his first MCU outing, Peter Parker is pitted against Adrian Toomes' alter ego, the super villain Vulture. As with a few of the other antagonists that have appeared within the MCU, Toomes is an individual who has been affected by the events of the previous films and is harbouring a grudge. Originally employed to salvage the site of the Stark Tower after the Battle of New York in The Avengers (2012), Toomes and his company are soon dismissed when Stark assembles his own committee for damage control and decide to steal what Alien matter they can from the site before they leave, in order to build and sell weapons. The fact that previous MCU films act as catalysts for future ones is a clever twist, as is Keaton's conflicted Toomes; who is trying to do what right for his family by doing wrong. The casting of Keaton shouldn't only be applauded due to his sinister performance, but also because it was a touch of genius as his performance of Vulture is something that completely juxtaposes one of his most famous roles; Batman. Other great performances come from Jacob Batalon as Peter's hilarious and kind hearted best friend Ned and the rather underused Zendaya as Michelle, an incredibly blunt, sharp talking classmate of Peter's.


Despite bravely forgoing an origins story and succeeding in doing so, the remainder of the script isn't exactly revolutionary and proceeds to carry on with the typical superhero film formula of the good force vs the evil one. The final battle wasn't anything that audiences wouldn't have seen before and it wasn't particularly the most thrilling piece of cinema, but it was justified for the film. Would it make sense for a new hero such as Spider-Man to take part in an Avengers style battle? No. But, despite these criticisms the film still has a leg to stand on.

Spider-Man: Homecoming, despite being part of a greater franchise, is definitely able stand up on its own two feet. It doesn't rely on the crutch of being part of the MCU to make it a great film, it just is. Granted, it doesn't break any new ground in terms of the superhero genre, but it's still a captivating watch and it goes without saying that Tom Holland is the reason that this film works as well as it does. Spider-Man will return in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), as well as an untitled sequel in 2019, and this film will leave you in absolute anticipation of his return.

★★★★


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