A superhero film for the ‘youtube’ generation, Spider-man Homecoming takes the Marvel formula and injects it with a dose of quirk, reeling back the galaxy spanning universe to focus on a smaller story and a younger, more innocent hero – while this can offer some whiplash, it does better capture the spirit of the Spider-man comics; his popularity has always come from his ability to connect to the audience on a personal level as a normal teenager first, superhero second.
As Marvel progresses through phase three of its cinematic plan, the self-awareness and comedy in the films seem to become more common, subverting the normal hero stereotypes to the point Captain America is the odd one out. Spider-man Homecoming definitely pushes this trend to its limit, in many ways a high school film about nerdy Peter Parker with his heroics just another part of his normal life; while it can drag a bit as a result, this choice by director Jon Watts does give the film a unique energy to stand out amongst the crowded superhero landscape. Throughout the opening two acts, the focus leans heavily to Peters desire to be a hero, his struggle to be more than a just another high schooler is a sympathetic plight and realistic for someone of that age. With previous depictions of the hero by older actors like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, it’s easy to forget that he is just a teenager and this is what makes Tom Hollands iteration the strongest yet; capturing the humour and emotion but most importantly the naivety of someone physically powerful yet in way over their head dealing with theft and murder.
A villain forged by the events of past Marvel films, Vulture, in name and nature, is played well by Michael Keaton but does continue the trend of weak adversaries in the marvel universe; his plight may be sympathetic but as a threat he is not strong, simply a menace that reflects the smaller scale of the film and a more personal journey for the hero – the real villain Spider-man has to overcome is his own lack of maturity and experience. Though Watts attempts to merge the pressure of Parkers super heroics and high school coming of age works early on, a weak reveal in the third act feels far too forced and jump starts a visually messy finale; while the action is otherwise strong the choice to set the final battle on a plane at night just doesn’t suit the colourful pop Spider-man is famous for.
Closer to the comics but adapted specifically for today’s youth, Spider-man Homecoming captures the spirit of the character more so than past films; though it will never be as iconic as Sam Raimi’s original, there is at least enough personality and humour to make it stand out amongst the library of Marvels cinematic universe.