After his acclaimed cameo appearance in Captain America: Civil War last year, Spider-Man has finally solidified himself as a major player in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), following the release of the highly anticipated Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The cinematic history of Peter Parker, has been complicated to say the least. Having not previously possessed the film rights to the character, Marvel Studios has had to work around the noticeable absence of some of its top tier characters by building its acclaimed cinematic universe surrounding some of its more secondary roster of heroes.
Before the release of Iron Man in 2008, the likes of Tony Stark, Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy were relatively unknown to mainstream audiences. However, due to the unprecedented success of the franchise as a whole these characters have now become household names culminating in the most successful film franchise of all-time. However, as the franchise grew it becoming increasingly clear that something was missing in the form of a large Spider-Man shaped hole.
For those not in the know, back in the 90s following a series of financial troubles Marvel sold the film rights to some of its more widely-known characters, most notably of these would be the Fantastic Four and the X-men who were sold to 20th Century Fox and finally Spider-Man who’s film rights were sold to Sony. It is because of this that despite having seen two different incarnations of Spider-Man since 2002 in the form of both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield we never saw Spider-Man alongside the likes of The Avengers, in the Disney owned MCU. That is, until now.
With 5 on-screen interpretations of Spider-Man, ranging in quality between middling to abysmal, just see Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (yuck!) it became increasingly clear that fans had begun to lose faith in Sony’s ability to effectively utilise the character. It is because of this that a deal was struck between Sony and Marvel Studios to include a new incarnation of Spider-Man in the MCU, thus leading to the film I will be reviewing for you now. (Finally!)
So, with all things considered and the mounting pressure on this film to be a success among critics and fans there is one glaring question; is it any good?
Yes. It’s very good.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming follows Peter Parker as he tries to adjust back to his normal high school life after having met and fought alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The film chronicles his desire to please Tony Stark and prove himself a hero worthy of Avenger status. This comes with its challenges however as due to his age and inexperience he is immediately dismissed by his mentor. It is following this and his uncovering of a sinister plot within his hometown of Queens, orchestrated by supervillain The Vulture, that he must act alone and step-up in order to save the day.
The film was everything a Spider-Man film should be. Director Jon Watts presented a profound understanding of what makes Peter Parker such an intriguing and loveable character and helped to establish everybody’s favourite web-slinger as a part of the wider MCU.
The story was very much self-contained, with references to the rest of the franchise feeling organic and not penciled in for the sake of it. There were many notable easter eggs and cameos that over fear of spoilers I will not reveal here. (Just go and see it!)
Watts also respected the audience enough to not retread the same origin story that we have already seen on-screen twice in fifteen years. The death of Uncle Ben was not shoved down our throats and it felt refreshing not to be blatantly lectured on the concept that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
The 36-year-old director also dared to do something that no director before him had previously, he made a Spider-man movie that was fun. This was reflective in the films tone that took notes from other successful films about high school such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a film that is even referenced within Spider-Man: Homecoming.
This was only furthered by the outstandingly comic book accurate portrayal of the titular character by Tom Holland. The English actor brought a joyfulness and charm to the character that has never been presented as effectively on film before. It was refreshing to finally see an age-appropriate actor demonstrate the awkwardness and naivety that makes Spider-Man so relatable.
Marvel’s casting of its heroes to date has been impeccable, Tom Holland as Peter Parker however is one of its strongest, rivalling even that of Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man with on-screen chemistry between the two stars demonstrating both of their acting talents, bouncing off each other with perfect comedic timing. Tom Holland has a huge Hollywood career ahead of him, one that I cannot wait to follow.
Comic book film legend Michael Keaton also aided in the success of the films as the Vulture, AKA Adrian Toomes. Throughout the franchises history, the MCU has often been criticised for its lack of compelling villains. The Vulture is an exception to this however with the reasoning behind his sinister actions being grounded and relatable. There was also a profound sense of humanity to the character which made his motivations increasingly understandable. This is a character that would benefit the franchise greatly if he were to be fleshed out further somewhere down the track. (Sinister Six spin-off anyone???)
Other performances that stood out came in the form of supporting actors Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei as Ned and Aunt May respectively, who’s interactions with Peter added a welcome and humorous layer to the film as a whole.
This film was not only entertaining as a stand-alone property, but it also makes me hopeful of the future of comic book films as a whole. Spider-Man:Homecoming shows that if two movie studios work together to give fans what they want, then both can benefit greatly. I have no doubt that everyone’s friendly neighbourhood Spiderman’s first solo appearance in the MCU will absolutely kill it at the box office and will hopefully pave the way for future agreements between rivalling film studios.
Imagine a world where the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers could all fight alongside each other on-screen. Take this one step further and imagine an eventual DC/Marvel crossover.
A guy can dream.
Go and see this film. it’s phenomenal.
Review by Jameel Khan
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