Spider-Man: Homecoming represents the third relaunch for the character since his successful launch in 2002 when Tobey Maguire first donned the mask (I’m not even going to try to go earlier than that). Homecoming already assumes you know the lore and cuts right into Peter’s life post-Civil War, where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggles adjusting to normal life while riding the high from rubbing shoulders with hero heavyweights and going toe to toe with Captain America.
Under the semi-watchful eyes of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Peter is let loose on New York City with an enhanced spidey-suit to learn what it means to be a genuine hero. It’s the second film the MCU takes to the street level (first being Ant-Man) and portrays a NYC more akin to what we’d see in comics than the more quasi-realism the franchises have tried to keep on. Alien technology has now made its way to the common man’s hands and intrepid criminals have created a black market reverse engineering alien weaponry.
To Homecoming’s credit, it changes a lot of the formula we’ve grown accustomed to over the last few years with Spidey flicks. This movie ditches retelling his origin again (THANK GOD) and even provides a new love interest in Liz (Laura Harrier), who is always beyond reach as, of course, his life as Spider-Man is too chaotic. Playing against Peter is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a former demolitionist out of the job thanks to Tony Stark’s Damage Control clean-up squad (who may or may not ever have a show on ABC) . Having lost income, pride, and having mouths to feed Toomes seeks revenge against “The Man” by having alien tech reversed engineered into weapons he can sell on the black market, even crafting metal wings The Falcon would probably envy.
It’s hard not to want to compare this film to its predecessors, though to its credit much of it genuinely feels different. It does follow the tried-and-true path of the protagonist trying to balance life and duty, continuing to follow Peter’s high school balancing act. However unlike previous flicks, Parker is starting over retroactively: When your first mission is taking on The Avengers themselves, taking on street thugs is a tough demotion to swallow.
The film also works quick on installing Spider-Man into the current MCU’s timeline, to the point where you have to wonder if Downey’s presence actually holds the movie back a bit. It’s integral to the plot, sure, since Peter trying to prove himself to Tony Stark is pretty much the pin tying this whole thing together. But at the same time Iron Man’s shadow is always looming over the film to the point where it is a countdown to his next appearance rather than a genuinely dramatic effect. It’s mostly as if Iron Man were here to shoehorn Spider-Man into The Avengers enough that you won’t ask questions when he just shows up next time.
When it’s all said and done, Homecoming is a fresh take on a very familiar character. Tom Holland does his damndest to out charm all his predecessors, and I dare say it worked. The most surprising thing is how grounded the film keeps, given how international/cosmic the films have taken. In a series where cosmic threats are tangible, Spider-Man’s personal issues keep grounded all the intense CGI fight sequences we’ve come to expect in each film.
The film also asks you to sorta forget what you know and embrace the Holland, which he makes pretty easy to do. At the same time, Marvel has a formula and they’re sticking to it. By this point you’re either along for the MCU ride or you’re tired of all these movies already. I don’t think this movie has the momentum to dethrone this year’s super hero darling, Wonder Woman, as the definitive hero flick of the year. However Spidey and Marvel fans won’t be disappointed with his official introduction into the MCU.
Pic Source: http://www.spidermanhomecoming.com/