'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Review: Your Friendly Neighborhood Superhero is Indeed Home in MCU

Over the last 15 years, we have been treated to two iterations of what could be one of the most recognizable superheroes - both from the pages of the comic books and the big screen - Spider-Man. Toby Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s respective outings resulted to five films (three from Maguire and two from Garfield) but there is a new kid swinging around Queens, with Tom Holland being the third and current incantation of your friendly neighborhood superhero.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming
Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming/Sony Entertainment Pictures

Bringing this iteration of the web-sling comic-book character is not as simple as it looks like. To the uninitiated, although Spider-Man is a Marvel character, his film rights are owned by Sony Entertainment Pictures which is the reason why he has never been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Marvel Studios despite the fact that he was actually supposed to be part of the Avengers. But it wasn’t until 2015 when Sony was hit with some business difficulties coupled with the internal email leak that the company decided to work with Marvel Studios, who has been at the pinnacle of its success with a slew of box office and critical superhero films under their belt. Since then, the two companies have reached an agreement to work together on Spider-Man’s reboot which is an unprecedented feat in Hollywood.

*Spider-Man: Homecoming spoilers ahead, proceed with caution*

Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds and Tom Holland as Spider-Man
Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds and Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming/Sony Entertainment Pictures

Holland’s first swing into action isn’t in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The young actor has debuted as the latest Peter Parker in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War” with a sizeable role enough to get fans hyped up for his standalone film. Despite very limited screen time, Holland was immediately a stand out - epitomizing the Spider-Man that a lot of comic book fans know with his youthful charm and vibrant disposition. His accent is also on-point (despite the fact that he is British), which is something that a lot of die-hards are pretty specifics about. Further, it certainly helped that the Brit is a gifted gymnast making it easy for him to pull off those action sequences.

The high school crew was also phenomenal. Zendaya who plays Michelle, Laura Harrier who plays Liz Allen and Tony Revolori who plays Flash Gordon were all effective in their respective roles. But definitely hats off to our very own Jacob Batalon, who plays Ned - Peter’s best friend, in helping grounding the film with his impeccable comedic timing and bubbling enthusiasm about having a superhero buddy.

Main villain Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture is probably one of the best fleshed out antagonists we have seen thus far in the MCU. Despite all its accolades, one recurring gripe in the successful franchise is that their bad guys always feel half-baked with motivations not really strong enough to actually justify their actions But Toomes is definitely different. The character is well developed to the point that to a degree, we can understand why he is doing what he is doing. Keaton’s performance is obviously spectacular, he is as menacing as how you want your main crook to be - both in and out of his battle suit.

Lastly, bringing in Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man to the fold is a genius narrative and marketing idea. Throwing in Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan (and a small Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow bit) into the mix is also great as it takes long time MCU fans 9 years back to the first “Iron Man” film. Being the MCU’s poster boy since the franchise’s inception, there is no better way to announce that this Spider-Man exists in the same universe that the Avengers are in than working Stark in his story. Additionally, their chemistry in “Civil War” was off the charts that it would be a missed opportunity not to capitalize on that.

Shout out, too, to Marisa Tomei who plays the younger and very fun Aunt May which further drives the goal of keeping this version of Peter younger.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker, Michael Keaton as the Vulture and director Jon Watts in Spider-Man: Homecoming BTS photo/Sony Entertainment Pictures

Marvel promised a coming-of-age, John Hughes-y story infused with the popular superhero tropes and that is certainly what director Jon Watts delivered. “Homecoming” balances different elements of the narrative without losing its focus on a young Peter struggling to settle back in his normal day-to-day life following his initial contact with the rest of the MCU heroes in “Civil War.” Initially, a lot of people were concerned about Tony Stark potentially overshadowing Peter Parker. But surprisingly, Downey Jr. was used very cleverly - peppered in the narrative just enough that we feel that he is serious in mentoring his new protege.

Vulture’s motivation as an illegal Avengers battle scene scavenger is also in line with Marvel’s goal of differentiating this version of Spider-Man to his predecessors. Not only does it continue the current tropes running in MCU by acknowledging the consequences of these Avenger battles, it also perfectly ties Peter with the rest of the shared cinematic universe. The reveal on the third act of the film that Peter’s arch-nemesis, Vulture, is actually the dad of his high school love, Liz, is a great shocker that added a layer of dynamic on what is a pretty straight-forward story.

Long-time fans of the successful movie series are in for a great treat with “Homecoming” chockful of Easter Eggs. There are various references to other MCU superheroes like Black Widow, Thor, Hulk and Captain America - who also had a cameo. Obviously the standard Stan Lee bit was also in the film. But there are some other things that could be foreshadowing of what’s to come for this version of Peter down the line. There is the appearance of Aaron Davis, aka Prowler, played by Donald Glover, who is the uncle of Miles Morales. At some point in the comics, Morales takes on the Spider-Man mantle. There is also the appearance of MacDonald “Mac” Gargan, aka Scorpion who could possibly be the sequel’s main big baddie - which is teased in one of the iconic MCU post credit scenes. The character is played by actor Michael Mando. Other fun bits include a possible dig on DC’s the Flash, as well as, a spin to the Spider-Man TV series main theme courtesy of Michael Giacchino, which can be heard during Marvel Studios title card opening scene. Further, Vulture’s half-a-second moon silhouette looking like Batman’s emblem is of course, a nod to Keaton’s days of playing the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s take on the character.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming/Sony Entertainment Pictures
What lies ahead

As previously mentioned, “Homecoming” is already set for a sequel which is due in 2019. But before that, Peter will have to convene with other MCU heroes as they try to foil mad Titan Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) plans of universal domination in “Avengers: Infinity War.” He is also penciled in for the ensemble movie’s yet-to-be-titled sequel. The two upcoming “Avengers” films are set to wrap up MCU’s Phase 3 with some of its principal casts - Iron Man, Thor, Captain America among others, expected to bite the bullet. “Homecoming 2” and Spider-Man is dubbed to usher us into the new world, said to be taking place mere minutes after the events of “Avengers 4” and fittingly so given that he is one, if not the most, popular superhero from Marvel.

Ultimately, if “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is any indication of how Spider-Man will be treated in the MCU, we can expect pretty great things ahead for the character, as well as the franchise.

-- ALD, The Summit Express

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