It’s good. Sure.
Honestly, I can’t wait for the hyperbole to settle down on this movie, because it makes critically examining it and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, difficult. Is the movie good? Yes. Yes, it is. Is it the best Marvel movie? No. Is it even the best Spider-Man movie? In some respects, yes. But we’ll get to that in eight paragraphs.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is the sixth film starring good ol’ web-head, and to be honest, it’s the first time we’ve seen Peter Parker on screen. Sure, other characters have been called Peter, but Tom Holland IS Peter Parker. He gets the bumbling, science-dork-ness right. He feels awkward and unsure of himself,yet knows he is capable of incredible things if given the chance to prove himself. This is the young Peter most comic book fans have wanted to see since first picking up the books.
However, something feels…OFF. And that something is his Spider-Man. In this film, Spider-Man is just Peter with a mask on – and that’s not how it should be. The moment Peter puts that mask on, he gets to cut loose and be the quip-making, almost-annoying-but-still-lovable jerk who can finally talk back to the bullies of the world the way he wishes he could at school. In fact, the person who pulled this off best is Andrew Garfield in the (unfairly) maligned Amazing Spider-Man films. Tom Holland did a good job, but I wish the separation of the characters was more distinct. And I think the reason there wasn’t more of a distinction has to do with my problem with the MCU as a whole…
Currently, the MCU has released 16 feature films. The worst one is one of the first Thor movies. I can’t decide which because I honestly don’t remember enough about either to make a case in either direction. But still, when those are your WORST movies out of that many films, you’re doing something right; and what they’re doing is going for a solid double.
Look, I get it – these movies are super expensive and are lifting up a few industries at this point, so you can’t take big chances, really; especially not with a brand like Spider-Man. Marvel is like an old-timey studio, where they make one kind of picture – it looks a certain way, it sounds a certain way, and you’ll never leave upset. It’s like Chili’s. It’s good…but not GREAT. There’s nothing of too much substance there, but hey, they’re not as bad as Batman v Superman, so let’s count our blessings, right?
The only time they did something out there and weird was with “Guardians of the Galaxy” because NO ONE KNEW WHO THEY WERE. You can’t damage a brand that doesn’t exist. Luckily, they let madman James Gunn come in and do what he wanted and he knocked it out of the park. So, he gets carte blanche, now. But Edgar Wright on “Ant-Man?” Nope. Too different and weird – ESPECIALLY for a character showing up in “Captain America: Civil War.”
Same with Spider-Man. After the failure ($800 million is a failure? Okay, sure. Whatever.) of “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Sony realized they needed to make a deal with the mouse and bring Spidey back to Marvel/Disney and recoup some cash. Smart move. They succeeded in bringing him back to the center, but it’s at a loss of identity.
Say what you will about Sam Raimi’s films (and BOY is there a lot to say), they had some style; a thumbprint that was uniquely theirs. Look at the Raimi-esque scene of Doc Ock in the operating room with the snap zooms and quick cuts – that has STYLE. Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is so lacking in its own identity, they steal shots from “Spider-Man 2” and even “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the latter actually showing on a TV screen mimicking what we’re watching Spider-Man do. Call it pastiche, or self-referential; to me, it’s a sign it has nothing new to offer up.
Is that a bad thing? No. But we shouldn’t call this the best Spider-Man movie ever when it’s aping other films this blatantly. In fact, every Spider-Man film excels in areas the others do not. Let’s break it down…
Spider-Man: This film feels the most like the original comic book and is by far the most iconic of the series. This movie felt special. Silly, yes. But big and fun.
Spider-Man 2: This movie feels the most New York out of all the films. And while the new film plays with the ideas of what happens when there aren’t tall buildings around for him to swing from, New York has always been a character in the comics, and it wasn’t really there in the new film. Also, “Spider-Man 2” has the best boss fight (the train fight, of course).
Spider-Man 3: This is the best at being terrible.
Amazing Spider-Man: I think this had the best chemistry between the love interests and had the best characterization of Spider-Man.
Amazing Spider-Man 2: This had the best costume and the best Spider-Man doing Spider-Man stuff. Every time he’s in the suit, it feels RIGHT (not to say it’s a smart movie…because, no).
Spider-Man: Homecoming: This one has the best Peter Parker and the best acting, all-around.
Yeah, while we’re here, let’s call out EVERYONE in the cast for being pretty great. All Peter’s side-characters are funny, and realistic – and Michael Keaton needs an Oscar at some point, because he can make ANYTHING awesome. Seriously, the best scene in the movie is him talking to Peter in a car. Nothing blowing up, no Tony Stark – just Keaton talking to Holland. Best scene.
Also, I have to say, because of the focus on him as a high school student, I felt a little too old to be watching the movie. This says more about me, than the film, though. Maybe I’m just growing up, finally.
Look, there’s nothing WRONG with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” It’s good. Your kids will go CRAZY for it, like mine did. But for me, while I enjoyed it, I thought it needed more of a voice. Will I watch it again? Probably. Yes. Will I watch it before the first two? I don’t know about that.