Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming ★★★★★

I'm seeing Far From Home again tomorrow and I recently picked up a nice SteelBook of this film so today felt like the perfect time to watch it. As a foreword, this review may come off as being written by an unabashed MCU fanboy but I am really not. I find a lot of the movies to be painfully cookie cutter, still enjoyable and fun but not remotely memorable. A handful of them I really dislike. But I find it annoying when I see people review bombing all of these with half a star and waxing poetic about how dumb the films are to imply that they are too smart to enjoy superhero movies. I don't love every MCU entry but I will say that I think they've gotten more interesting in the past few years and I pretty much always have a good time if it is a Spider-Man film

After some thought, I can confidently say that the Spider-Man films are my favorite entries in the MCU. There is a special quality to them that stands out among the rest and its difficult to simply that into one statement so this review will serve to explain why I think the Spider-Man entries are unique. I grew up loving Spider-Man since as long as I can remember and seeing this movie and FFH for whatever reason has really spoken to me recently and hit me in a nostalgic area despite the fact that these are very new films. Maybe they just appeal wholeheartedly to the kid in me but I love them a lot.

Tom Holland is undoubtedly my definitive Spider-Man. Tobey is good but looks a little too old for the part in my view and fails to capture the fun nature of the character of Spider-Man as well as he does the nerdy characterization of Peter Parker. Andrew Garfield made for a really fun and energetic Spider-Man but his Peter is a little too cool for school and through no fault of his own, those "Amazing" films fundamentally did not understand Peter or Spider-Man as well as the MCU or the Raimi trilogy. Having Peter's motivation for fighting crime be revenge for his uncle's death strips away the wholesome and friendly neighborhood side of him that we all love. Tom Holland's portrayal is nerdy, extremely awkward, somewhat naive, but at the same time he is capable and strong and very clever with words when he is feeling confident. He feels like a real high school kid who has been thrust into this insane life out of nowhere and he makes mistakes but he is doing his best with his new status as a superhero.

Now, Tom is established as my favorite Spider-Man but on to why I feel that these Spider-Man films stand out among the other 21 MCU entries. The MCU has long been great at blending the superhero action with another sub genre of film, whether it's a political spy thriller in The Winter Soldier, a heist comedy with Ant-Man, or a space opera with Guardians of the Galaxy. But Jon Watts' fusion of superhero movie with high school teen comedy is seamless. These movies feel genuinely and naturally funny. Where the MCU becomes very tiring to me very quickly is when all of the comedy comes from the ensemble of characters constantly quipping back and forth. It works for Tony Stark but when everybody on screen is jabbing at each other with these improv class comebacks, the jokes don't land as well. This movie finds comedy in situations and characters without relying entirely on snappy but somewhat forced dialogue. There are some laughs and sequences in this film and Far From Home that could work as well in a movie like Booksmart or Superbad, with a few more explicit words peppered in.

This film has a surprisingly mature message about the difficulties of being a kid with a lot of responsibility, especially when adults in your life think you are too naive or immature to have real problems. Peter has to learn that he is still a kid and is not capable of everything he wants to be at the moment but Tony and Happy also have to learn to be patient and understanding with him and they come to understand that Peter brings a lot of value to their mission to help others. Peter's decision to not become an Avenger at the end showed that he had learned his lesson and it was great to see him decide that he needed to do some more growing before he really stepped into that role.

Something else about these movies is that they feel more distinctly fun and comic booky, which is such a subjective thing that it is hard to quantify or speak of in detail but these movies just have a fun and colorful feel to them. I find Homecoming to be so rewatchable that it is likely going to enter the batch of movies I will want to go back to for comfort anytime I'm having a bad day and just want to unwind with a fun film. They balance the grand universe of the MCU perfectly with a smaller scale superhero. The way they include fallout from the battle of New York in the original Avengers as the inciting incident for our main villain is really smart because it makes the world feel larger without having to change the scope of the story significantly. Iron Man's existence as a pseudo father figure for Peter makes a ton of sense as well and further legitimizes the fact that this is part of a larger world without having Tony take up too much screen-time. This is still clearly Peter's story and Peter's fight.

Speaking of the fight, the villain in this movie (and FFH) is just fantastic. Michael Keaton gives an amazing performance as Adrian Toomes, the working class villain who resorts to scavenging alien tech to sell to criminals on the streets of New York. Vulture's design turned a somewhat goofy looking character into a really cool villain, but beyond his looks, Adrian is up there with Killmonger as one of the most easy to empathize with villians in the franchise. He is just a blue collar guy trying to support his family and I love the decision to have Stark screw him over. It reminds the audience that the beloved Iron Man is not spotless either, and Toomes makes an amazing point when he mentions that Stark sold the weapons to bad people in the first place and they are really not that different after all. Vulture and Mysterio are two of the most interesting villains in the MCU and I won't get into Mysterio at all here but the connection that Vulture ended up having to Peter came as one of the biggest surprises in any of these movies. The scene where they drive to the dance is so well directed and effective in selling how Vulture pieces together what is going on, and he turns very intimidating when he is alone with Peter.

I have rambled and this may be one of my longest reviews on the platform but like I said in my first Far From Home review, Spider-Man has always been my favorite comic book character. I loved the Raimi films growing up and I never could've imagined having another iteration of the character impress me even more but Tom has knocked it out of the park. The villains are great, the teen comedy is funny, the action is engaging without committing the sin that many superhero films do nowaday where the third act devolves into a CGI filled, muddled mess that tosses storytelling out the window. My few complaints with this film, some of them did not even bother me at all on this viewing. Zendaya as MJ originally came off as fairly one note to me but I like her a lot in the role, I think it took Far From Home to make me realize how great she was in the part. The time skip that messed up the continuity is a minor and ultimately insignificant mistake so I really just don't care about the fact that they messed that one up. I do have some nitpicks, like the fact that Flash's character seems really popular at Liz's party despite Peter being perfectly nice and likable to the point where I have a hard time believing that everybody there would go along with Flash in making fun of him. I guess I understand why Flash would bully him but I don't understand why nobody is sticking up for Peter because the film gives us no other indication that he is a loser or a kid who gets picked on a lot.

All that to say, this is one of my favorite superhero films and I can't wait to revisit FFH tomorrow to see how it holds up on a second viewing.

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