The lil’ scene stealer of Captain America: Civil War returns to the screen in his own adventure as Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) yearns to get back into the action and to rejoin Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers on another mission. However, he still has high school to get through, struggling to maintain his dual identities as he tries to win the heart of Liz Allan (Laura Harrier) while also attempting to prove himself as a superhero, eventually crossing paths with the dangerous Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who has secretly built a black market arms business based around scavenged Chitauri technology.
As in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland is excellent in the role of our favourite web-slinger; he is perfectly likeable, good-hearted and loveably nerdy as Peter Parker while also throwing himself into the heroics of Spider-Man. His character develops believably throughout the film, going from an excitable wannabe Avenger slightly in over his head, to learning about the true nature of being a hero, gaining a sense of maturity and responsibility. Commanding a great deal of screen time, Michael Keaton is also a fine addition to the MCU as Adrian Toomes/Vulture; while at times it seems an awful lot like Michael Keaton just being Michael Keaton (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), he is effectively nasty, threatening and dangerous while also showing some credible depth as he values his family and, in an undeniably misguided way, does it all for them. And on that note, it’s good to see a Marvel villain determined to keep things low-key and under the radar; rather than world domination, Toombes attempts to work in the shadows and avoids the prospect of tussling with the Avengers.
As for the supporting cast, Marisa Tomei often lights up the screen as
Will’s mum Aunt May, though whether it’s actually appropriate to reimagine the character as a sex symbol is still up for debate, Jacob Batalon is a worthy comedy sidekick as Peter’s best friend Ned, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori is smarmy enough as Flash Thompson, Laura Harrier is nice enough as Liz, though not exactly the most fleshed out character ever, and Zendaya (???) provides some humorous sarcastic quips as Michelle. Bokeem Woodbine also plays Herman Schultz/Shocker but don’t go expecting him to “suit up” at all, maybe they’re saving that for another film – I certainly liked Shocker back when I used to play “Spider-Man” on the PS2!
Plus, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau have plenty to do as Tony and Happy but thankfully, Iron Man doesn’t take over the whole film as the posters/trailers would suggest. Rather, they’re there to tie the film into the MCU, providing enough callbacks to previous events and setting up some teasers for the future.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a bright and colourful film, with some excellent music from Michael Giachino, and there is plenty of entertainment value throughout. Rather than taking itself too seriously, it is constantly light-hearted, fun and many of the jokes work well, a few of them poking fun of the comic book universe that they’re in, especially given the rather unique post-credits scene. The story doesn’t really take us anywhere unexpected though and while it’s interesting to properly see Peter’s high school years, that part of the story is perhaps too slight, too “teen drama-y” and easy to simply watch and brush off, not the most emotionally rewarding side story.
A large part of the film is Spider-Man’s Stark-designed suit and this is probably the thing that sets Spider-Man: Homecoming apart from the rest. While the trailers had me worried that they would overdo it, straying away from simplicity with a needlessly complicated supersuit with a gazillion gadgets and gizmos, the advanced suit is a joy to behold as it boasts some truly cool functions that allow the film to shake things up and to give us some Spidey action that we’ve never seen before. It also helps that they acknowledge that the suit does way too much, having fun with Peter hoplessly trying to get to grips with it all and ultimately, it’s kind of like when you’re playing a videogame and you use cheats to skip to the end – you find yourself overloaded with options and wish you’d stuck with the training level!
It’s also admirable how emotive the eyepieces are; the suit allows Spider-Man to squint, wink and to show plenty of emotion while still in the suit. Plus, it’s neat how the film starts off with the advanced suit but ends up with Peter donning the prototype version that we skipped over in Captain America: Civil War; the film bends the formula a little bit to a satisfying extent.
And Vulture’s costume design is admirable too – the bomber jacket and “feathers” look works wonders.
As for the negative points, I felt that there were certain scenes, particularly the one in which Peter chases the enemy van, where the use of CGI was too obvious and made me pine for the more practical effects of Sam Raimi’s films. Also, there were moments where it was too difficult to understand what Tom Holland was saying, given his excitable, quick speech and the hood obscuring his words, and the final showdown was too dark and frantically edited, so it was a struggle to see just what was happening. And finally, while Spider-Man: Homecoming is consistently entertaining and keeps up a steady pace, it was all still a little too safe and didn’t really deliver many spectacular scenes to write home about. It was a great film but I didn’t love it.