For most comic book fans, the one thing missing from the 2012’s Avengers lineup was Spider-Man. Because Sony owned the rights to the wisecracking web-slinging teenager, he couldn’t be a part of the team. To everyone’s surprise, he made a scene stealing (and shield stealing) cameo in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
With Sony and Marvel working out their differences, fans would get another Spider-Man reboot with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Thankfully, Marvel Studios avoided a third Spider-Man origin story in 15 years. There’s no Uncle Ben death scene, there’s no radioactive spider bite. The story picks up right after the events of Civil War. Peter (Tom Holland) is struggling with returning to school and his “normal” life after teaming up with the Avengers. Like a puppy who wants to go outside and play all the time, Peter is constantly bugging Happy (Jon Favreau) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) about using his abilities to do more. Despite instructions from Tony to literally stay on the ground, Peter patrols the city fighting crime – under the guise of his “Stark Industries internship.
After having his salvage company put out of business by the federal government and Tony Stark, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and crew collect leftover Chitauri technology to make high powered weapons to sell on the streets.
One night after stopping Toomes’ goons from stealing an ATM, Spider-Man tries to find the person behind the alien weapons that are mysteriously showing up all around New York. He tries to do all of this while still being Peter Parker the high school student.
Underneath all the superhero action and heroics, this is a story about a kid trying to find out who he is, a story about a kid with a crush on a girl that seems way out of his league, and a kid with a secret he can’t tell. This is what was missing from the previous Spider-Man movies. Their plots danced around similar issues, but they focused on a Spider-Man being a superhero not a kid learning how to be one.
A big reason why is because those Sony movies weren’t connected to a bigger superhero universe, this film is and that’s what gives this version of Peter Parker a new perspective. He has a mentor in Tony Stark, the world around him understands superheroes, and he wants to be part of a team. This Peter Parker has different motivations and different reasons to be/or not be involved in these superhero battles.
Although Spider-Mann is a character we’ve seen multiple times on different media platforms, dropping Peter Parker in the MCU feels fresh and new. Most of that goes to Tom Holland who has a baby face and a boyish charm that makes him the perfect Peter Parker. Holland is great in the Spider-Man suit but he’s outstanding as Peter Parker. He nails all the high school angst and worry that boys in high school have. Even Parker’s friendships seem authentic.
Director Jon Watts pulls off a miracle by making very contained Spider-Man story that doesn’t have too much Tony Stark in it but also feels like part of a much bigger universe. Not to mention there’s plenty of easter eggs and references to drive comic book fans crazy.
Michael Keaton gives another great performance playing a bird man. He’s got a calm to his voice that makes his intimidating lines a little scarier. Toomes may not be the toughest Marvel villain, but his motivations make sense and that’s what makes him dangerous.
The supporting cast around Holland is great and appropriately diverse. Zendaya plays the curious and confident Michelle, Laura Harrier is Peter’s love interest Liz, Tony Revolori plays the Flash, Abraham Attah is a kid on the speech and debate team, and Jacob Batalon plays Peter’s best friend Ned. It’s not just that these kids are great; this is exactly what you’d expect a school in New York to look like.
There’s tons of great action from beginning to end. The 576 different web shooter combinations are great along with all the new tech in the suit. The sequence at the Washington Monument is the imaginative brilliant action fans are use to seeing in a Marvel movie. And yes, there are plenty of laughs. It’s not truly Spider-Man if it isn’t full of humor.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the perfect kickoff for Spider-Man in the MCU. It’s a fun adventure mixed with a high school rom-com. Homecoming has all the action and comedy fans grew up with in the comics – it’s just fun to watch. Tom Holland is perfect as Peter Parker/Spider-Man the same way Robert Downey Jr. is perfect as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Homecoming is the movie of the summer and it will be hard to top.