Spider-Man: Homecoming is a perfect return to MCU for our fave web-slinger

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Online Poster #3

Sometimes, it almost seems too easy for super producer and Marvel Cinematic Universe Godfather Kevin Feige. Throw him a little known, third-tier band of comic book misfits (Guardians of the what now?) and he’ll turn it into one of the top grossing movies of all time. Take a film that was in development hell for nearly a decade (Ant-Man) and he’ll still produce a top-notch superhero film that satisfies action and comedy fans alike. But Feige’s latest coup might just be his finest. Somehow he convinced Sony Pictures to allow him to bring one of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes into the MCU fold. And with a star-making turn by Tom Holland as the titular web-slinger and sharp direction by relative newcomer Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the triumphant return of Spidey to the MCU.

Spider-Man: Homecoming eschews the “origin story” beats that bog down so many of these reboots. (i.e. nerdy high schooler, radioactive spider, yada yada yada.) It jumps straight into the events of Captain America: Civil War, where Spider-Man made a small, but memorable cameo. Only in Homecoming, we see the events from Spider-Man’s point of view, in all its shaky, cameraphone glory. From here, Spider-Man returns home to New York City. His handler and Tony Stark’s driver, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), tells him to wait (and wait, and wait) for further instructions.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Tom Holland

But apprehending bike thieves and giving old ladies directions through Queens aren’t quite enough for our hero. Peter begins investigating the appearance of futuristic weapons in NYC. This leads him into conflict with Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) a.k.a. Vulture, who is making and selling these weapons on the black market. At the same time, Peter still has to struggle with the staples of high school adolescence: his crush on classmate Liz (Laura Harrier), school bullies (Tony Revolori), and winning the academic decathlon.

It is this constant balance between facing supervillains while dealing with typical teenage angst that makes Spider-Man unique among Marvel’s heroes. His daily problems are small, but oh so relatable to viewers. In turn, this makes his run-ins with evildoers harnessing superweapons all the more impressive. Spider-Man doesn’t always make the right decisions, because, well, he’s still a kid. And Homecoming leans in on this notion multiple times.

Marvel’s films have always been known for their more lighthearted and whimsical tone. Especially when compared to the dark and brooding DC Universe. But Spider-Man: Homecoming dials this up even further. At times, the film feels less like a typical superhero movie, and more like a teen comedy that just happens to star a superhero. This is by no means a slight. Even at its quippiest, The Avengers films still have a distinct sheen of nobility and self-importance and gravitas. The timeless tales of heroes doing battle against the forces of evil. Spider-Man: Homecoming has no such dramatic anchors to weigh down its story. This lets it focus on the more human battles and everyday struggles of what it might feel like to be a teenager who is suddenly blessed with superpowers.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Michael Keaton

Robert Downey Jr. makes an extended cameo in Homecoming, and Marisa Tomei reprises her role as Aunt May, the only real adult in the proceedings. Keaton brings a different take on supervillains to the film. He plays a blue collar business owner who feels cheated by the rich and only turns to crime to provide for his family after his business is taken away from him. Although it’s hard to root for Vulture, it’s easy to empathize with the choices he makes that lead him down his path.

The film’s focus is on Peter, as it should be, as he slowly learns to harness his powers and suit. Holland serves as a perfect antidote to the increasing overwrought and mopey …umm Spider-Men that preceded him. He infuses Peter Parker with such earnestness and enthusiasm, like a kid who is growing into a new body that he is unfamiliar with.

He is helped along on his hero’s journey by best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), who absolutely steals every scene he is in as Peter’s confidante and “man in the chair” (think Oracle, but bigger and more likely to fanboy out over meeting a superhero). When he discovers Peter’s big secret, he basically does pretty much any high school kid in his situation would do. Geek out and ask tons of questions about what it’s like to be a superhero. (“What’s Captain America really like?”) And then figure out how to use his friend’s superpowers to get girls.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr, and Tom Holland

Final Reaction

There was a time when it seemed like we might never see our favorite web crawler join the MCU fold (though I had some hope after the abomination that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2).  But ultimately, money talks and Sony had to admit to themselves what Marvel fans have known all along. Spider-Man is a great superhero. But throw in that Marvel Studios magic, and he becomes a downright revelation. And although the stakes of his battles aren’t quite at the level of interdimensional wormholes, Spider-Man’s victories feel just as big to me. Welcome home, Spidey. We’ve missed you.

Rating – 5/5 Atoms

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