Spider-Man and Iron Man travelling through New York, from the Spider-Man Homecoming Poster

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

I missed Spider-Man Homecoming when it was initially in theaters – due to a combination of lack of time when I had the money, and a lack of money when I had the time. When I had both, the movie was out of theaters entirely. Ultimately, the film became my one gap in the MCU – the one film I hadn’t seen. Until now.

The film picks up more or less right after the conclusion of Captain America: Civil War. As you’d expect from the title, the movie follows Spider-Man, who has just come back to Queens with his brand new super-suit, and hoping to become a full fledged Avenger.

However, there’s a new superpowered threat on the street. Adrian Toomes, once upon a time owned, a construction firm, who invested a considerable amount of money in being able to work on the cleanup after the Battle of New York – only to have his contract yanked out from under him by Stark Industries and the newly formed “Department of Damage Control.” To make up for this, Toomes and his crew have started stealing ultratech – from originally the Battle of New York, Sokovia, and other places – from the Department of Damage Control, re-tooling it into weapons and other tech, and then selling it on the street.

Peter ends up trying to get to the bottom of this while also juggling his social life. In something of a twist on the original – Peter’s high school is a more STEM focused high school similar to Benson Polytechnic here in Portland. Peter still faces some bullying, but because of the change of setting, the “Jocks vs. Nerds” dichotomy is completely gone. Instead, Peter’s classic rival – “Flash” – is part of the Academic Decathlon team. “Flash” is from a rich family (unlike Peter living in a less well off part of Queens with Aunt May). It’s a class rivalry instead of a dichotomy that is becoming more and more false as more “geeky” interests are entering more and more into the mainstream.

Peter’s school is also considerably more diverse than it was in the other Spider-Man films, which also makes sense for the makeup a similar school would have (as we see with the demographic makeup of Benson, for example), and his neighborhood is also pretty diverse as well.

In terms of the writing, Toomes is a big step up in terms of the quality of antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is a logic to Toomes motivations that fits with him as a character. It’s clear that he’s trying to provide for and protect his family and his employees, in that order. It’s clearly spelled out to the audience through his actions – and the film’s final climax is less the villain trying to go out in a blaze of glory like in Iron Man 1 and 2, and more like the climax of Heat – with the Vulture (or Neil McCauley in Heat) going after one last score that would leave him and his crew set for life, only for him to run into Spidey (or Vincent Hanna in Heat) who puts all that in jeopardy.

Generally, with one significant exception, the majority of the mistakes and other errors made by the characters that are ones that make sense for the motivations of those characters and the information they have at the time. Probably the biggest exception to this, and the most narratively frustrating part of the film is how Happy Hogan comes off in the film. He’s incredibly dismissive of Peter Parker and ignores him and the efforts of his friends to try to tip him off to how serious the threat of the Vulture is.

While one of Peter’s biggest errors in the film is an attempt to disrupt Vulture’s arms deal by himself, and in the process interrupting an FBI sting, the odds are similarly high that things would have gone incredibly poorly for the FBI. Maybe not for the cast of Agents of SHIELD, but since near as we can tell SHIELD no longer exists in the MCU films (as shown by the CIA handling Ulysses Klawe, and not SHIELD), then we can reasonably assume that they’re not an option. Had Peter not been around, the ferry in question probably wouldn’t have been split in half, but there might be a bunch of very dead FBI agents.

In terms of the general film structure, the movie is very well shot and I didn’t have any problems with the fight scenes. Spidey ends up replaced with a digital double a lot, but considering how Spider-Man fights, that’s not entirely unreasonable.

The acting is very good, with Tom Holland being incredibly convincing as Spider-Man (I didn’t notice his accent at all), and most of Spidey’s friends being great. I would have liked to have seen more of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May though – Jon Favreau gets considerably more screen time as Happy Hogan, and I’ve already mentioned my issues with how that character is written in this film. I do really wish I had seen this movie in theaters instead of at home, and I will make sure to see the next Spiderman film there when it hits theaters.

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One thought on “Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

  1. Well written review. I agree that it would have been nice to see more of Marisa Tomei, especially considering how much Aunt May we had to suffer in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. Overall, a solidly entertaining entry into the ever expanding MCU canon. I like Holland in the title role, he’s the best fit we’ve seen yet.

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