Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Let’s be honest. Sony has not had the best time of it recently with some ill-advised remakes, the hacking scandal and a bizarre idea of how universe building works they needed some good news. So when they announced their deal with Marvel to get Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe they managed to get some much needed goodwill. This goodwill increased after Spider-Man’s terrific cameo in the superhero stuffed Civil War.
Of course the question now arises. Does Spider-Man work in this new world? The answer is, for the most part, yes. However one sequence involving the webslinger pulling together two halves of a ferry is an effective metaphor for the film as the Saved By The Bell crossed with Kim Possible doesn’t always mesh with the “ordinary crooks get hold of alien tech” film (this could then be read on a further level of Sony and Marvel both pushing and pulling). Thankfully it manages to pull through and for me the key to it is Tom Holland as the young hero.
The puppy-like enthusiasm seems very real but equally we feel his pain and his struggle. This is not to have a go at Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield who worked well in different ways. Maguire was a believable geek while Garfield’s chemistry with Emma Stone helped compensate for some flaws in the previous ‘Amazing’ reboot). On a wider level in some respects this film is unlucky. It comes out in a year when Logan, Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 have really raised the bar. Also if I was going to be very critical I would say some of the high school moments seemed very reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Zendaya’s Michelle is a snarky presence was a bit too close to Alison Pill’s Kim Pine, though to be fair in both cases they did have some terrific lines).
What elevates this material is not so much the writing or the direction (which are fine) but the inclusion of Michael Keaton as The Vulture, Robert Downey Jr’s iconic Tony Stark and Jon Favreau’s neurotic Happy Hogan. I have always loved Michael Keaton and I am very happy to see him resurgent at the moment and he owns the time he is on screen. He’s a very casual menace that transcends the somewhat predictable plotlines (not to spoil it too much but a similar uncomfortable moment to the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man).
Some people were afraid that this would be “Iron Man 3.5” and fortunately it really isn’t. Tony Stark has more of a mentor role but without overpowering the story and with his typical casual style while Favreau’s Hogan has some great interplay with Holland. As for the rest of the supporting cast (including Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Bokeem Woodbine’s Herman Schultz, Jacob Batalan as Ned and Laura Harrier as Liz) they all do well, albeit with stock characters that aren’t on the level of the top tier actors in the story. This isn’t really their fault as this is the tough balancing act the story has to maintain and for the most part it is handled well.
Finally with regard to the end credit scenes you get the typical tease plus a little extra that I was really not expecting but made me smile. Overall then to emphasise this Spider-Man: Homecoming is unlucky to come out this year. There have been some brilliant comic films out and by the looks of things there will be at least one more to come. If you love the character Spider-Man then this will (for the most part) not disappoint and pretty much everything you want you’ll get but in my personal opinion once again the narrative serves as a good metaphor, hopefully in the sequel they will be off the training wheels program.