Spider-Man: Homecoming


Reviewed by: Evelin Toth

Spider-Man Homecoming
"The balance between the individual and the bigger picture is perhaps the greatest strength of Homecoming."

Following Marvel’s superhero vs. superhero showdown, Civil War, Peter Parker finds himself unsure of his place in this world ridden with extraordinary individuals. Not being taken seriously enough to be an Avenger, he struggles to figure out his priorities between academic decathlons, proving himself to Tony Stark and wooing his high school sweetheart.

With some of its most popular superhero franchises and characters belonging to other studios, Marvel’s faced a particularly tough challenge since the inception of its Cinematic Universe. The films preceding Homecoming were tasked with the mission of moving less celebrated, less well known superheroes from the fringes of pop culture to the very centre of it. Kickstarted by Robert Downey Jr’s captivating Tony Stark persona in Iron Man, this plan has been fruitful so far, leaving the studio with 15 colossal box office hits.

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The third cinematic reboot of Spider-Man had a lot to achieve to justify bringing the character to life once again, this time under the flag of Marvel Studios. Integrating a cultic hero in an already established universe while preserving the integrity of Peter Parker is not an easy task. One of the biggest criticisms the studio continues to receive concerns the compromises that the building of a shared universe means for the journeys of individual characters. Films often feel too stuffed with cameos and over-explained references to previous events. One only has to go as far as to compare the backhanded appearance of the Falcon in Ant-Man to the integral supporting role of Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to see the delicate handling this requires.

The balance between the individual and the bigger picture is perhaps the greatest strength of Homecoming. Despite the vast amount of publicity material focusing on the relationship between Parker and Stark, the film devotes the majority of its time to focusing on Peter’s personal development. Spider-Man has long been the ‘kid’, the young loser, a bit of an outsider, and this incarnation of the character is an accurate homage to this. The film’s throbbing heart is the innocence of the 15-year-old Parker. In a world where the epitome of coolness is Stark, it’s easy to see a superpowered teenager getting attached to the thought of being a superhero. Peter’s video diary at the beginning of the film, showing a montage of events from Civil War from his perspective, is the perfect tone-setter for the film and its version of Spider-Man, achieving more characterisation in a matter of minutes than some of Marvel’s other films do during the entirety of their duration.

When it comes to the compulsory cameos, Homecoming uses the cross-referencing to its advantage. Stark’s deus-ex-machina appearance in the film is twisted by his strong but clumsy paternal stance towards Parker, fundamentally shaping the kind of hero this Spider-Man ought to be. The point the film sets out to make may be simple: the real hero is not the man known to the public, but the person underneath the mask. Or as Stark puts it, “if you’re nothing without the suit, then perhaps you shouldn’t have it.” However, this version of the ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ line is a sincere fit for the world of a young Peter Parker, who would like nothing more that to be taken seriously enough to be an Avenger.

The film works to put Spider-Man at a crossroads by pitting him against a foe living up to his name, the Vulture. Brought to life by the extraordinary Michael Keaton, the villain is a straight-forward creation of the universe’s changing times: losing his job cleaning up after superhero battles, he specialises in stealing scraps to develop deadly weapons. While the ex-Batman star’s performance lends credibility to this premise, the CGI action sequences featuring the Vulture often climax in fight sequences with underwhelming, dragging choreography. If it wasn’t for Keaton’s bravado and Holland’s heart, the Vulture/Spider-Man clash could easily be a throwaway gig, weighing down the feature. However, the conflict works to support the heroic development Marvel is paving out for Spider-Man, establishing a new generation of superheroes to come. And with this, Homecoming is an engaging, spectacular adventure, a fresh twist on the superhero genre with its teenage innocence.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2017
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Spider-Man: Homecoming packshot
Peter returns home to live with his Aunt May, but the emergence of new villain the Vulture changes everything.
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Director: Jon Watts

Writer: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya

Year: 2017

Runtime: 133 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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