Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes / Vulture
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Jacob Batalon as Ned
John Francis Daley
First off, let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief. After Sam Raimi’s dismal third entry and Marc Webb’s disappointing reboot things were not looking great for fans of the ol’ Web Head. Spidey’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War did a lot to assuage fan concerns (with Tom Holland’s performance being a particular high-point of the movie) but there were still myriad ways in which the Sony/Marvel co-pro could go off the rails. That’s why I think it’s best that we get this part out of the way: Spiderman: Homecoming doesn’t suck. In fact I think it’s very good and about as much fun as anyone could expect from a summer blockbuster.
I always had faith in this one and it was alllll worth it. You really have to give credit to everyone involved. First to Sony’s film execs for coming to terms with the fact that Mark’s Webb’s reboot wasn’t working and saying, “We’re not getting it. We need some direction.” Very humbling for any movie studio to say that and follow through on it. Then let’s thank Disney who are particularly prickly about their property (don’t expect any Frozen or Star Wars cross-overs until your unborn grandchildren are in their 50’s.) And finally, kudos to Marvel studios, who had probably been watching the whole time with ideas. They knew Spider-Man’s role as a comic icon and they stayed true to him visually and as a character in Civil War. When it came to Homecoming they kept the love alive by putting him deep in their world but let him have a story that was uniquely his.
One of the things that absolutely everyone is talking about is how this is a high school movie first and a superhero movie second, and while that isn’t entirely true, it also isn’t entirely NOT true. I find it kind of fascinating that this is something that people are really digging about the movie. How did you feel about spending so much time with Peter Parker vs Spiderman? Do you think it worked?
I thought it was so fun to spend time with Peter Parker because his friends are awesome and hilarious! All praise be to Tobey Maguire who got us to where we are today and built this genre of movies with his BARE HANDS, but Tobey’s Peter was never a kid and he never had a strong supporting cast. Look, there are a lot of writing credits on this thing so it’s not one person who was coming up with the tone and the jokes (and some of the best coming of age writing I’ve seen in years) but without Jacob Batalon’s amazing debut as Ned, we’d be writing a different review right now. Laura Harrier as Liz, Tony Revolori as Flash, and Zendaya’s razor sharp Michelle were a believable, young and talented force to be reckoned with as well.
I agree, a fleshed out supporting cast really gave the high-school aspects of this movie a John Hughes feel. Personally, I was onboard with the whole Spiderman via The Wonder Years since the first trailer hit. While the kids where great, I can’t believe we have gone this far without mentioning one of my favorite characters; Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture. Homecoming (as I am referring to the movie now apparently) lets us spend a surprising amount of time with Toomes, he opens the movie, he closes the movie, and his presence is felt throughout. Keaton plays the character as a hardworking blue-collar guy who operates somewhere between charming and menacing — sometimes both at the same time. He’s also hands down the most sympathetic villain this side of Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock back in 2004. Basically anytime Keaton was on screen I was in heaven.
Man, for me the best scene is when Peter opens the door to see Toomes standing there and it starts to sink in that he’s Liz’s father. I mentioned Tobey as a founding member of the genre, but by that time Michael Keaton had already started it, loved it, got mad it and didn’t want it anymore. I consider him a master (and I think Birdman proves it). Back to the scene – beat by beat, Keaton plays with the audience using his complete knowledge of the character and audience expectations. He gets you to warm up to him but he’s testing everyone to make sure they’re on their toes. Then we all pile into the car. As things dawn on Keaton and the audience in this tight space, Keaton’s voice turns rocky and the comfort is gone. Even with his daughter in the back seat there’s no telling what he’s about to say or do. When he talks to Peter alone he speaks to him man to man, never as villain to hero or kid to adult. What’s more telling is the way he delivers his line about owing Peter for saving Liz, “I can never repay you for that. But if you mess with my business again, I’ll kill you” or something along those lines. He never sneers or grits his teeth. That’s what Oscar talent and a lifetime of experience looks like.
So let’s talk about the meat. How they treated Spidey. There are many things in my mind that were done well here but I didn’t think there was more sincere a sequence or one that so perfectly painted the life of a fifteen year old boy who wants to be a superhero than the montage of him giving old ladies directions, messing up a potential auto theft and basically helping out the neighborhood. All ending with a phone call to Happy begging for his next big mission and insisting that he’s ready to be an Avenger. It was just freakin’ perfect.
That’s actually something I really loved about the movie. Even though they took Peter back to high school, this is a movie with a very adult worldview. Peter is a child, and as a child he makes mistakes. This is not one of those “look how dumb the grownups are” movies. For the most part Tony Stark is correct in every bit of advice he gives Peter. This is a Spiderman who is still figuring out what exactly his powers are and what precisely that responsibility looks like. If you think about it, Spidey causes a LOT of damage when he doesn’t listen to his older wiser superhero counterparts.
Something that I really thought was going to bother me, actually ended up being perfect, and that was the insertion of the other Marvel characters in Spiderman’s movie. It wasn’t gratuitous, and it actually just made it feel like a seamless world where all of these people live and interact. It may have actually been the most organic cross-pollination that Marvel has pulled of yet. Captain America doing PSA’s on puberty kills.
Yeah, all the Marvel touches and cameos were dead on. I have nothing bad to say about it. Go see it if you haven’t already. If you have, dust off your Batman (1989) DVD and Spider-Man (2002) box set and relive a little bit of nerd history in the making, back before we inherited the Earth.
Nothing anyone says is going to really move the needle on whether or not you were going to see this movie. I guess the best possible thing I can say is that this is one of those rare superhero movies that makes you excited that we will be getting 3-5 of these suckers a year. I can’t wait to hang with this incarnation of Spider-Man again and see how his relationship with Adrian Toomes evolves. See it. Maybe twice. 4 out 5 glowing pink crystals.