★★ 1/2 out of ★★★★
There’s an interesting shift in Spider-Man: Homecoming (SMHC) compared to previous Spider-Man entries. Usually, Spider-Man does good while the media portrays him as a criminal vigilante. In SMHC the media praises him while he actually IS kind of a criminal vigilante! But it’s not intentional. It’s Peter Parker (Spider-Man’s true identity) being a stupid teenager whose prides causes all kinds of trouble.
Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) learns that bad guys have gotten hold of powerful alien weaponry and are selling it on the black market. The potential for someone killing on a grand scale is a risk Parker isn’t willing to take.
During the film he tries to stop weapon deals while also juggling school and his personal life. Keep in mind, he’s still just a 15-year-old courting a senior girl while also trying to save the planet. But every time he gets involved, he makes things worse.
A simple ATM robbery turns into mayhem and he almost gets his friend killed. All of that over a few thousand dollars. It’s not like that bank isn’t insured for that stuff, Pete. Let ‘em do their thing and stay out of it.
Or when he meddles during a weapons deal nearly killing hundreds. Luckily his mentor, Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) saves the day.
The introduction of the main villain, Vulture (Michael Keaton), is a disappointment because his character’s motive is not believable. He talks about how his family is number one and that’s why he’s selling all this stuff ad nauseam. But he has these weird Golum-esque moments where he can’t help himself from dealing arms.
His character needed more motivation. Was his family poor and struggling at one point? Did he grow up poor and refused to ever get close to poverty? Did the selling of weapons illegally give him some sort of high we don’t know about? It’s just too unknown and it takes away from his character and the story itself.
People are probably split on this, but the film wisely keeps this contained to a Spider-Man story. There are brief appearances from some familiar Avenger’s faces, but overall they have limited screen time. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is featured in a few key scenes, but the film does a good job keeping the team separated in an organic way while also providing a few hilarious cameos.
SMHC also does something cool in that we don’t see him get bit by a spider or anything like that. He’s already an established character thanks to his appearance in Civil War. So we aren’t wasting time with a story most already know. Teenager gets bit by a radioactive spider and then becomes a superhero. Bada-bing bada-boom. No need to bore audiences.
Mark my words though, there’s probably a five minute scene somewhere of Parker getting bit and waking up with his powers. I bet we’ll see that in some sort of flashback in the next film. Obviously they set things up for a sequel and we will continue to see the Marvel world expand. For this comic book fan, it will be a welcomed sequel. But not necessarily because SPHC was so amazing. It just left me wanting more.
Good: A really fun entry into the Marvel world while maintaining the integrity of the Spider-Man franchise.
The Bad: Character is king and Spider-Man’s main villain is lacking in character and motivation. He’s so one dimensional so it’s hard to take him seriously. The stakes are weak as a result.
Final Word: It’s a good movie, while not being the best in the franchise or in the Marvel universe. That being said, this movie is set up perfectly for a sequel that will likely be more mature and better than the first.
Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Zenday. Directed by Jon Watts.
Running Time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments