Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming is a triumph as one of Marvel’s flagship heroes swings fully into the cinematic universe, proving for Spidey that there is indeed, no place like home.

After his whirlwind debut in Civil War, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker finds himself stuck in the mundane, left dreaming of rubbing shoulders with the Avengers as he deals with high school bullies and Spanish tests. However, when arms dealer Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), aka the Vulture arrives, Peter is handed a chance to prove himself – but at what cost?

There is a familiarity to Homecoming as Peter struggles to balance secret identity with daily life. He’s left juggling school, friends, worrying Aunt, crime fighting and that whole with great power comes great responsibility malarkey – but it’s brilliantly handled.

It’s accompanied by a welcome freshness too, with the film not having to wade through an origin story nor in any hurry to push Peter Parker through graduation. The combination works a treat. Peter Parker very much feels someone capable of the extraordinary, though stuck deep in the ordinary, dealing with every day problems we can all relate to. It’s always been one of Spider-Man’s greatest appeals. He’s one of us.

In truth, the film handles Peter Parker so well, it’d be a decent watch without the Spider-Man scenes. Thankfully, that’s not the case, but this is easily the strongest Peter we’ve had so far.

He’s awkward. He’s endearing. He simply encapsulates “Parker luck”, while that reliability keeps us rooting for him throughout. Holland pulls off Peter better than either of his predecessors. He makes mistakes. As Tony puts it, he “screws the pooch” on more than one occasion.

However, that’s part of why this film works. This is about a kid discovering his inner hero, chronicling the arc of “With great power, comes greater responsibility” better than any other. There’s a scene as the film spirals towards its climax in particular that’s wonderful in its simplicity, nailed by Holland and sums up who Peter is to a tee. Plus, casting a kid as a kid works! Who knew?

This is about a kid discovering his inner hero, chronicling the arc of “With great power, comes greater responsibility” better than any other.

A lot of the responsibility on Peter’s shoulders stems from the shenanigans Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture has been getting up to. Toomes mirrors Peter in some ways, arguably a lot of ways. Whereas the Amazing Spider-Man opted for a similar, more grounded street-level approach, it shot itself in the foot with a villain wanting to turn everyone into lizards.

Homecoming, in comparison, finds its villain in a man wronged by the world. He wants his share. He wants to provide for his family. He does this by refashioning alien technology, scavenged from the Battle of New York (Avengers), into weapons which he then sells on. There’s arguably a Walter White quality to Toomes. He’s a blue collar construction guy who breaks bad, while a delicious twist sets the climax in motion, adding real depth at just the right time.

The Vulture looks tremendous, too, it must be said. It’s a genuinely frightening design and a world away from his original comicbook appearance. Keaton himself is an absolute blast, with one particular scene in a car proving commendable in its simplicity and impressive in its terror.

There’s arguably a Walter White quality to Toomes. He’s a blue collar construction guy who breaks bad…

This is a story which builds the foundations for future Spider-Man films, planting seeds, yet telling a satisfying story in itself.

It’s a bloated cast, yet nobody feels like they’re thrown in. Everyone feels necessary. It’s testament to the writing and indeed the performances on show, from the excellent Jacob Batalon as best bud Ned, to Laura Harrier’s Liz, to scene stealing Zendaya. There’s also Donald Glover’s Aaron Davis (aka Prowler) and Bokeem Woodbine as Shocker. Not to mention Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, Jon Favreau – a treat as Happy Hogan, and obviously Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark. And breathe…

It delivers the complexity of Peter Parker’s life like no other Spidey film has quite managed to. It lacks the spectacle of Spider-Man 2 (still the one to beat), but all in all, this is undoubtedly a triumphant Spidey homecoming for Marvel and it reminded me just why he’s my favourite hero.

There are familiar beats, but they’re accompanied by an infectious freshness – not just for Spider-Man, but for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.

There’s definitely life in this MCU yet post Infinity War and with the likes of Spidey and Black Panther leading the charge, it’s hard not to be excited about what’s to come.

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