The following review contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Movie-going audiences have become very familiar with one of Marvel’s most popular characters, Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire took on the role in 2002, Andrew Garfield rebooted the character in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and now Tom Holland has control of the web shooters.
Holland was first introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Captain America: Civil War. Despite limited screen time, he was a clear standout amongst some Marvel veterans. With Spider-Man: Homecoming, Holland stars in the most refreshing superhero origin movie seen in years.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a coming of age, John Hughes-inspired movie, with a superhero cinematic backdrop. This movie embraces the fun, light-hearted tone that the Spider-Man comics have become known for. Director Jon Watts delivers an entertaining thrill ride throughout the film. He manages to balance action, large set-pieces and intimate character moments.
Homecoming ties into the larger Avengers universe, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is a major player in the film, but Watts doesn’t rely on that to carry the movie. Instead, Watts uses those components to his advantage, while keeping the focus on Peter Parker and his journey.
Peter Parker is a kid in high school, growing up and dealing with everyday challenges, all while learning to become a superhero. Within the first minutes that Holland is on screen, it’s clear that he has fully embodied this character. Holland delivers an honest, fun and passionate performance as the web-swingling superhero.
While Homecoming focuses on the evolution of Peter Parker, this movie also allows for Tony Stark’s character to grow. Stark is taking on a mentor role with Parker, which allows him to start confronting some of his personal father issues. In recent MCU movies, the focus has been more on Iron Man as opposed to Stark. Homecoming allows Stark to advance as a character, all while having the same sarcasm and wit that helped launched Iron Man into the superhero stratosphere.
Holland has a supporting cast around him that amplifies the fun, adventures tone of the movie. Jacob Batalon (Ned), Zendaya (Michelle), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), Donald Glover (Aaron Davis), and Jon Favreau (Happy). Batalon plays Parker’s best friend and helps to remind audiences just how crazy it would be if your best friend were becoming a part of the Avengers. Batalon is hilarious, effervescent and real; the MCU needs more Batalon. Glover has a minor role, but it’s highly likely that his character will expand in future movies.
It’s no secret that the MCU has a villain problem. The MCU movies are focused on the heroes. Leave it to Michael Keaton to see a problem and solve it. Keaton is known for playing Batman and famously playing against the on the superhero type in the Oscar-winning film Birdman. He comes full circle playing Vulture in Homecoming. Keaton plays a villain that makes you question if his motivations are evil, could he be doing the wrong thing for the right reasons? Keaton’s performance grounds the film in reality. This is a world where superheroes and Gods exist, that doesn’t leave much room for a small business owner in Queens trying to follow the rules. When the game is rigged against you, sometimes you have to disobey rules.
This is a large scale Marvel movie with a neighborhood feel. Peter Parker has to save the day and still complete his homework. Watts successfully captures the spirit of Spider-Man by allowing the character to be who he is, a fun-loving kid from Queens who is learning just how powerful he can become.