Directed By: Jon Watts
Produced By: Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal
Story By: Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Premiered On: July 7, 2017
Distribution By: Sony Pictures Releasing
For the purposes of not spoiling the film too much, I’ll strictly be focusing this review on the titular hero and non-titular villain. Why? Because aside from not wanting to spoil any of the numerous humorous moments with my attempt at explaining why they’re so funny, there are a few plot twists that even I didn’t expect to see and wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises in store for you should you go see the film yourself. That and I’d likely soapbox on everything that I loved in this film so I’m doing my best to constrain it to strictly two characters, their performance, and their outfits.
If it hasn’t been said enough already I’ll say it once more, I am a Spider-Fan. I grew up on the Fox Kid’s cartoon of the 90’s, an era where Saturday mornings were worth getting up early for, and have a decent collection of graphic novels of major story arcs alongside several boxes worth of actual comics from Amazing and Ultimate storylines. I do not pretend to be of the Uber class of nerd however, I cannot instantaneously list off any specific numbers or moments at a whim but I still like to think myself well knowledged in Marvel’s, quote, “Greatest Superhero.”
The original trilogy is one that while I initially enjoyed upon first viewing, save for the third one for reasons that even thinking about set me on a rage that is but a mere quarter to the burning fire that is my ire towards the travesty of “One More Day” and its BLASTED DUMB FU—
Ahem. Anyway, the original trilogy was good for its time but focused too much on the angst side of things to a point where, frankly, anytime I think of those films I recall the scene of Tobey crying like a kicked puppy. That is not an image I want to associate with a hero that is more famously known for his quipping and (generally) upbeat attitude no matter how much, or how frequently, the odds are stacked against him in and outside the suit.
The attempted reboot did a somewhat better job of it. Didn’t quite care for the weird variation of the costume in the first film and while Andrew made for a good Spider-Man whence compared to Tobey, he shared in the lackluster performance of being Peter Parker. While the first was an alright film and got Spidey’s general good humor down with an extra dose of tragedy, the second film was far, far too rushed with its villains and story potential, all but stating outright that third film was to feature the Sinister Six.
As many are no doubt aware, that plan has since been dropped and the reboot considered as a wash with no further plans to continue though rumors still circulate of a possible spin-off film to feature Venom as the protagonist. If they manage that right without the sheer stupid that was the third film of the original trilogy and the utter amazing that is Homecoming, I’m all for it.
As I stated in my review for Captain America: Civil War, Tom’s performance was a picture perfect match to both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, something that remains steadfast and strong in Homecoming. He, more than any previous rendition of Spider-Man outside the comics, actually got me to laugh several times with his quips and other hilarious moments when he was testing out the full capabilities of Stark’s Spider-Suit MK I.
However, what truly won me to this rendition of my favorite Marvel superhero was something… more. More than the laughs, more than the quips, more than being just a good Peter Parker and an equally good Spider-Man was in the one moment in the film where it clicked. That moment where Tom well and truly became Spider-Man. In a scene where Spider-Man stumbled across a not-so-secret advanced arms deal going down, the sellers presumed that the buyer was secretly a cop and Spider-Man, without a moment’s hesitation, jumped down from his hiding spot and declared that if they want to shoot at anyone, shoot at him.
That, that right there was the selling moment. The one that showed the whole world that he is the amazing Spider-Man. The past films all but hammered the saying of “with great power comes great responsibility” and they danced around it stupendously in Civil War, so they had to create the moment that defined Spider-Man for who he is without the needless origin story.
It has been a longstanding trope that heroes are often an embodiment of an ideal. Wonder Woman with Truth, Batman with Vengeance, Hulk with Strength, but for the likes of Spider-Man, the ideal that I have always felt he represented is that of Self-Sacrifice. He has always and forever been one to put the wellbeing of others far, far, far above his own and that moment in the film sold it.
As to the spider-suit supplied by Marvel’s technilogical genius Tony Stark, it has my full support behind it. Aside from the fact that it is, in essence, an homage to the current spider-suit being worn by Peter Parker, it is one that feels the most realistic out of the multitude we’ve seen in this media thus far.
For all that Peter Parker is a genius in his own right, as he did create and manufacture both the web fluid and web-shooters when he was fifteen (in MCU and outside it), I do not believe him to be capable of making the type of costumes we’ve seen in the previous films on a teenager’s budget. Particularly the original trilogy suit, which looks next to impossible to make by hand without a lot of specialized equipment. Besides that, and small spoiler here, there’s an element to the suit that frankly comes extremely close to stealing the show and I hope to see more of it in any future installments.
Moving on to the Vulture, I’ll admit, I was surprised when I heard that he, and the Shocker in a something of a bit-character role, was to be the main villain of the film. I knew that they’d have to pick someone new that we haven’t seen before, because they just cannot get the Green Goblin right no matter what variations they try, and one that had to have something of a similar technological advantage to Spider-Man’s own unique outfit given Iron Man’s cameo appearance but the Vulture? Really?
Don’t get me wrong, while he is oftentimes a card carrying member of the Sinister Six, he is rarely one of the first villains to come to mind when I think of a serious villain for Spidey to contend with. It was with this opinion in mind that I went in to the film and when I walked out, oh man did it change.
To put it simply, they not only made the Vulture freaking terrifying but actually gave him an honest-to-goodness reasonable explanation to his name though it’s never stated outright in the film itself. See, the main backstory behind the Vulture’s origins is that he, and his crew, are literal vultures towards any major fight that has occurred in the MCU, scavenging any and all hi-tech gear and equipment and salvaging/revamping it to either sell on the black market or use in attaining larger, and better quantities, of scrap. The real important thing to note here is that the Vulture and his crew have been doing this for years, literally since the first Avengers film and no one, not a one, has caught them until Spider-Man web-swings into the middle of things.
Much like how Tom portrays an equally excellent Spider-Man and Peter Parker, Keaton does the same for Vulture in and out the suit but goes a bit further when he’s not wearing it. Light spoilers, but there’s a moment where Spidey and the Vulture meet outside the respected suits and I kid you not ladies and gentlemen, it has been a long time since I’ve had an “edge of the seat” moment in a film that wasn’t of the horror genre. This moment, relatively short though it was in comparison to most other scenes in the film, legitimately had me biting my nails and scared, terrified even, of where it was going to go because of how Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture showed a clear degree of unexpected bouts of clear sadistic insanity and that was strictly outside the costume too!
Speaking of the Vulture’s own distinctive outfit, I actually really like it. Not only is it a sensible means of flight but given the right perspective, which is pretty much any viewing of him from above or below, can make for a terrifying sight as he comes swooping in. The “feathers” of his wings act as both a defensive shield and offensive blade, capable of slicing through most materials including Spider-Man’s webbing, and even when damaged to obscene degrees are still functional enough to allow Vulture to try and make a somewhat less than dignified exit provided the power core isn’t sharing in the hurt.
Overall, though Phase 3 of the MCU has only really just gotten the ball rolling, I’d dare say that of the singular superhero films thus far, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the best thus far. A solid five out of five stars. Oh, and as I’m sure a great many of you are curious to note, yes, there is a post-credits scene and it is one that initially comes off as quite infuriating upon first watch but quite humorous in hindsight.