Is third time the charm? Sony seem to think so! Desperate to keep hold of their once lucrative Marvel superhero cash cow (which in this golden age of screen superheroes remains a rare commodity outside of Disney’s corner of the market), and following the Box Office disappointment of the equally disappointing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Sony have now partnered up with Marvel Studios to bring Spider-Man, arguably Marvel’s most popular character, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The end result? Spider-Man: Homecoming!
And it really is a homecoming in every sense of the word. Fresh from his brief but brilliant debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man gets the MCU solo outing comic fans have been longing for since the very beginnings of the Avengers franchise. Picking up where Civil War left off, Homecoming finds rookie superhero Spider-Man (AKA high school wallflower Peter Parker) continuing his personal quest to become a major player in the superhero world, and gain the approval of his hero Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man, AKA Robert Downey Jr), all whilst trying to survive the pressures of high school, homework and dating. Unfortunately for Peter, he also has to contend with a group of criminals using scavenged alien technology, led by the sinister Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton).
So far, so Sony. But it’s the injection of Marvel Studio’s trademark wit, inventiveness and affection for their characters that makes this Spider-Man outing that much more enjoyable then recent efforts. Like with all the best MCU movies, the emphasis here is on fun, from the action-packed smackdowns and web-slinging heroics to the hilarious one-liners and tongue-in-cheek goofiness.
It’s this aforementioned goofiness that gives the film much of its heart and soul. Whether it’s Spidey cracking wise whilst performing daring action-packed feats or Peter’s awkward teenage antics, scene-stealing supporting character Michelle (Zendaya) delivering dry acid put downs or that hilarious Stan Lee cameo, it all coalesces into a breezy, light-hearted and enjoyable 130 minutes.
Of course, the film lives or dies based on its lead actor, and thankfully Tom Holland proves himself up to task. His natural charm and comic-timing are a must for playing Spidey, and his exasperated, outclassed, fish-out-of-water take on the character is perfection.
He’s an even better Peter Parker, giving the character real vulnerability whilst keeping the socially-awkward and empathetic aspects of Peter front-and-centre. Whilst both the actors to previously hold the role struggled with playing the two sides of the character, Holland has no such issue. Frankly, he’s the best Spidey we’ve ever had.
Homecoming is certainly a film that values character over spectacle. Iron Man is present, but Robert Downey Jr‘s appearances are minor in terms of screen time. Instead, when he does appear, it’s to drive Peter (and ultimately the plot), as opposed to being just a cheap, glorified cameo. Peter’s best friends Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Michelle offer the film plenty of comedic scope, whilst Michael Keaton‘s excellent take on the Vulture provides the MCU with one of it’s more fleshed-out and relatable screen villains.
Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) assembles a fine cast and directs proceedings with a clear love for the source material. The John Hughes-esque tone is on-show for all to see throughout the high school scenes, whilst the action scenes are vibrant, pacy and varied. The humour comes hard and fast yet never feels forced, whilst the more dramatic moments have a weight to them that ensures both empathy and tension. Add in a great score from Michael Giacchino and some stunning visual effects, and you have all the makings of a great superhero flick
Spider-Man: Homecoming is certainly everything one could have hoped for in terms of an MCU Spidey reboot – full of heart and humour, yet action-packed and brimming with flair and style. The main plot may be small potatoes compared to previous outings, but when your central character is as engaging, funny and cool as the Spider-Man we see here, it matters not a jot. The focus on delivering a fun little superhero movie opposed to a long-list of fan service cameos and spin-off teasers pays off, and certainly proves Marvel are still the ones who have it spot on when it comes to adapting their own characters.
Take heed, Sony execs. Third time most definitely is the charm. Don’t screw it up!