by Michael Robb
It’s no secret that there have been a lot of Spider-Man movies in recent history. With five movies and now two reboots of the character in the past fifteen years, many people are getting a case of Spider-Man fatigue. What can this new Spidey flick possibly provide that the previous films haven’t done already? Is Homecoming a refreshing new take on the character, or more of the same?
Tom Holland is Peter Parker
Move over, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield! The latest and greatest iteration of the web-slinger is perfectly cast. If you liked Tom Holland’s performance in Captain America: Civil War, then you’re in for more of the same in Homecoming, and that’s a good thing! Tom Holland’s performance represents everything great about the Spider-Man character: the teenage awkwardness, the quirky one-liners, and an eagerness to prove himself to others. Unlike the original Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire, Holland actually looks like he could be in high school, and his interactions with other students are one of the most entertaining parts of the entire movie.
What makes the Spider-Man shown in Homecoming so compelling is that he is written and acted in a way where he is Peter Parker first and Spider-Man second. He’s not a superhero who is leagues above the normal individual. He’s not rich, he’s not an invincible green monster, and he’s not a god from another world. Spidey is human, flawed and down-to-earth. He lives a normal, everyday high school life, and deals with problems that all of us face in our lives. And for this reason, he is one of the most relatable heroes ever created. He may go toe-to-toe with supervillains and can stop a bus with his bare hands, but at the end of the day, he has to be home in time for dinner. The balance between Spider-Man the hero and Peter Parker the average Joe has always been a hallmark of the character, and Tom Holland plays the role in Homecoming perfectly.
Michael Keaton’s Vulture
Every superhero story needs a good old fashioned villain, and Spider-Man Homecoming is no exception. Previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have had generally lackluster and forgettable antagonists, but Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture breaks the mold in a spectacular fashion.
The Vulture feels like a real character in Homecoming, with realistic motivations that the audience can sympathize with. He isn’t trying to conquer the world like Loki, and he’s not trying to blow it up like Ultron either. All that the Vulture wants to do is provide for his family, and give them a better life. Just like Peter Parker is a normal student, the Vulture is an everyday working man who was screwed over by those more fortunate than him, and as a result turned to crime to support those he loves.
The most compelling aspect of the Vulture’s character in Homecoming is that he is a direct foil to Spider-Man. Both are pushed away and negatively affected by those above them, and come from less than financially strong backgrounds. But despite the similar situations they find themselves in, they choose to take entirely different paths. The Vulture is who Spider-Man could have become if he had chosen to use his powers for personal gain, but his morals kept him from doing so. It’s like Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Speaking of which…
No origin story, no Uncle Ben
By the time Homecoming begins, Peter has his powers and is an established hero in Queens. Uncle Ben is not mentioned by name once in this film, and the spider bite is briefly mentioned in dialogue between Peter and another character. Ultimately, the decision by the filmmakers to not include the same origin story we’ve all heard a hundred times was a good call. The underlying themes of power and responsibility, doing what’s right in the face of adversity, and the obligation to help others because you are able to are all present in this story, but they are not the main focus and shouldn’t be. Spider-Man: Homecoming has its own story to tell, and it doesn’t need Uncle Ben to do it.
Spider-Man Easter Eggs
For those of you who are fans of the character outside of the movie realm, you’ll find quite a few Easter egg references from the comics throughout the film. My personal favorite comes straight out of The Amazing Spider-Man #33, a fantastic story from the web-slinger’s original comic run. There are plenty more references that keen-eyed Spidey lovers have picked up on in Homecoming, so keep your eyes peeled!
For those of you who may be concerned that these references bog down the film in any way, don’t worry! These little tidbits are so subtle that unless you were really looking for them, you wouldn’t even know they were there.
All in all, Spider-Man: Homecoming encompasses everything great about the character, and tells a grounded, compelling story with a memorable villain. The film will make you laugh, cheer, and at one point perhaps make you gasp in disbelief. A Spider-Man movie has never before come this close to taking the character from the comics and pulling him directly off the page and on to the big screen, so if you haven’t seen it yet be sure to do so!