Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming ★★★★½

Just how do you perfect the Marvel formula?

To start, you don't. Ever since recovering from the fallout of Civil War, it's become apparent that there isn't really any glaring problem with the pattern that so many of these films tend to follow, and it's ever more obvious that the target audience of these films don't really seem to notice or mind any repetition, with the billions these films have grossed in total over the past almost ten years.

The third time's the charm with Spider-Man Homecoming, and this time he's finally gotten himself mixed in with the Avengers. The fans who've cried out "Give Spider-Man back to Marvel!" have finally had their voices heard, and with that we get what very well may be my favorite Spider-Man I've seen yet. Tom Holland is by far my favorite Spider-Man performance- he brings a sort of innocence to the character that makes his persona completely different than Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were. Peter Parker has evolved from the underdog dork into a far more subtle character that's less "comic-booky" in its approach and far more believable.

Perhaps it's Spider-Man's own invaluability to the Marvel hero lineup that helps Homecoming stand apart from everything else. The web slinger is by far the most iconic character in Marvel's lineup, and his familiarity to comic book fans far and wide may have helped me feel more at home with this superhero film. But Spider-Man has always been a character with a far more emotional backstory and motivation than most, if not all, of the other Marvel heroes. He's not a god or an alien or a billionaire with a fleet of flying armor suits. He's just a regular kid with a tragic backstory of his own, just trying to make his way through high school while keeping the streets of New York City safe. He's far more human than the other Marvel heroes, and perhaps his down-to-earth style has helped solidify himself in the comic book industry.

Michael Keaton, who's found himself more in the spotlight since his game changing performance in Birdman, is fantastic as the villain in Homecoming. Like the previous Spider-Mans, his character has a personal motivation that makes him stand out from the other megalomaniacal villains of the rest of the MCU. He isn't bent on world domination or the destruction of the universe. He's just a regular guy wanting to take care of his family, but his character is far more fleshed out than Baron Zemo was. He's not even really evil in nature- the opening scene does a wonderful setup at making his motivations clearer than ever, maybe even sympathetic to a point. It's easy to say that Keaton is the best MCU villain yet and, while there may be some truth to that, every new Marvel film has had a villain considered a vast improvement if only because Civil War's villain was so downright awful that it might as well not have even had one to begin with. Marvel as of late really is starting to get a better grasp at what their villains should be like, and Keaton's Vulture is perhaps the apex of their capabilities. He's simultaneously menacing and sympathetic, and that's what's always made a Spider-Man villain truly worthwhile, in my opinion.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 will still be one of the greatest offerings of the comic book movie industry, but Homecoming is a close second as the best Spider-Man film. Surprisingly, I find myself preferring Tom Holland's innocuous composure to Tobey's dorky persona, and I don't think Marvel could have found a better person to play Peter Parker this time around. It's nonetheless exciting to think of what the MCU and Sony will have in store for his future solo outings and adventures with the Avengers, which will undoubtedly come to an exhilarating climax with Infinity War. Homecoming breathes fresh new life into a character thought long lost from the silver screen, and keeps up hope that we'll see even more that he has to offer in the near future.

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