Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a Spider-Man movie to the core. It tackles the inherent “problem” of Spider-Man as he exists in all Marvel universes, that he’s the big little guy. There is no Avengers or X-Men grandeur, he’s just a teenager swinging around through neighborhoods - but he’s “Spider-Man.” What does that mean?

In a sense, the movie is exactly the kind of origin story that Spider-Man needed. The Uncle Ben tragedy is all surface information, it gives you nothing for the superhero’s complexity and the value of his existence alongside the presence of blockbuster superhero teams. In that sense, Spider-Man: Homecoming ticked a box that the last five movies couldn’t - that inherent “incompleteness” that they had, which we couldn’t put into words. This alone makes Spider-Man: Homecoming a must-watch superhero movie. Jon Watts got it.

I’m interested to know how Jon Watts came about to both direct and co-write the movie. He’s not an obscure director per se, but his body of work as a director focuses mainly on The Onion News Network and two recent-ish movies: Cop Car (2015) and Clown (2014). Regardless, the man captured a tonality that’s loyal to the essence of the Spider-Man ethos, churning out a superhero coming-of-age film that’s light and realistic.

The cast surrounding the protagonist is diverse without feeling forced, and with comedy that’s not burdened on the shoulders of one comic-relief caricature. You can make the argument that Peter’s best friend is that caricature, but I don’t think he stole the spotlight off of the other supporting characters, like Zendaya’s character, who I really enjoyed. Other supporting characters from the Spider-Man cannon are present but tweaked to be a little more socially diverse without deviating from the character’s core, which is nice. BUT, there is one supporting character whose tweak felt unnecessary and forced, [SPOILER] you can’t just change Mary Jane Watson’s name to Michelle. Why? What’s the point, to pat yourselves on the back for tricking the audience for two hours? To top it off, she calls herself, M.J. What? [/SPOILER]. With the exception of Tony Revolori and Robert Downey Jr., the characters didn’t feel one-dimensional and had some pretty good chemistry as a cast. Robert Downey Jr. redeems himself to show more character depth by the end of the movie, but only just. It honestly felt like he was just reading Iron Man lines for most of the movie.

The antagonist, another significant element that hasn’t been perfect in the last two Spider-Man runs, was very well done. I wasn’t sure how to feel about the big bad at first, and I haven’t read the character in any of the comics so I can’t comment on whether or not he was portrayed loyally, but as things unfold throughout the film, you can’t bring yourself to completely hate the villain - which is a testament to the effective portrayal of character depth and complexity. You don’t want him to win, but his loss is bittersweet and the consequences are heavy, one way or the other.

Not a fan of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. It’s just weird for me.

The plot flowed without being predictable, which is always a pleasant experience. There is a clear path through the three-act structure with strong plot points and climax, allowing Spider-Man to arc clearly, illustrating his inner journey alongside the narrative arc, and satisfying the need for character development by the end of the film. I think the screenplay’s focus on Spider-Man’s internal origin story allowed for a much easier portrayal of the comic book icon, ultimately achieving what the other movies could not.

Yes, the movie ticks a lot of boxes, and I cannot dispute the 8.0 IMDb rating. Having said that, I left the movie without feeling much. I clearly remember having an emotional reaction to the movie exactly two times; the first during the opening credits with the song, and the second when [SPOILER] Gwyneth Paltrow pops up at the end to kiss Robert Downey Jr. and fill your heart with joy [/SPOILER]. Both times essentially unrelated to the plot and to Tom Holland as Spider-Man. He’s a fantastic Spider-Man, so I don’t know if I can explain it, but my emotions stayed with Andrew Garfield (and a little bit with Toby Maguire, not going to lie). There was something missing in this movie for me, emotionally, but I can’t put my finger on it yet.

Also, I feel weird about having Michael Keaton in a Marvel movie. It hurts a little.

Shda3wa? Rating:

★★★ and a half

  • Production company:  Columbia Pictures, Marvel Studios, Pascal Pictures
  • Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon, Donald Glover, Jon Favreau, Hannibal Buress, Marisa Tomei
  • Director: Jon Watts
  • Screenwriters: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
  • Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal
  • Executive producers: Victoria Alonso, Avi Arad, Louis D’Esposito, Jeremy Latcham, Stan Lee, Matt Tolmach, Patricia Whitcher
  • Directors of photography (Cinematography): Salvatore Totino
  • Production designer: Oliver Scholl
  • Costume designer: Louise Frogley
  • Music by: Michael Giacchino
  • Distribution: Sony Pictures Releasing
  • Budget: $175 million
  • Box office: $571.7 million
  • Language: English
  • Running time: 2 hours and 13 minutes
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