Peter Parker, aka Spider-man, is no stranger to the big and small screens. Notable adaptations include the 1994 animated “Spider-Man” television series. In 2002, Toby Maguire starred in a “Spider-Man” movie directed by Sam Raimi which spawned a trilogy. The third entry is one I prefer to forget, however. Andrews Garfield swung into action as Spidey for 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” which received a sequel of its own. Now Marvel Studios gives Parker a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) stand alone film. With a new Peter Parker in Tom Holland, “Spider-Man Homecoming” is one of the top adaptations, and one of the MCU’s finest flicks.
Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) runs a salvage company that’s contracted to clean up post-Battle of New York. But the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.) swoops in to assume control over the project, led by Anne Marie Hoag (Tyne Daly). As such, Toomes begins a grudge against Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
Flash forward eight years, and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) aka Spider-Man is a restless high schooler. By day, he’s the average teenager battling hormones and the awkwardness of high school. But after school, he’s a hero returning stolen bikes and giving directions. Despite being called in to help during “Captain America: Civil War,” Spidey isn’t beckoned for high-level duty. Instead, he takes it upon himself to thwart crime. One evening, however, Parker stops a bank robbery where alien tech is used. This throws Spider-Man into a web of underground weapons dealing and a menacing villain in Toomes.
“Spider-Man Homecoming” is a homecoming on several levels. There’s the high school homecoming dance which plays a pivotal role in the plot. While Spider-Man is introduced in the MCU during “Civil War,” this is his standalone debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Finally, “Homecoming” is very much a coming of age film. Whereas at the onset Parker is an overly-confident yet eager and wholesome hero, at the end he’s matured greatly.
Although “Spider-Man Homecoming” isn’t a true origin story, there’s still that vibe. “Homecoming” chronicles his maturation as he grows into a competent hero and understands the power and responsibility he’s afforded. By the end of the film, Parker sheds his training wheels.
I appreciate the standalone aspect. Though I enjoy some crossover between the films, “Civil War” felt like another “Avengers” entry rather than a notch in the “Captain America” saga. Stark plays a beefy role. Yet it’s Happy (Jon Favreau) who gets more screen time than Tony. This is a welcome addition, as Happy’s last role in “Iron Man 3” had him in a coma for much of the movie. Favreau is magnificent and truly exhibits why he excelled at both acting in and directing previous “Iron Man” movies.
Keaton notably portrays Vulture wonderfully. It’s remarkable how Keaton dominates at his portrayal of flying creatures. “Homecoming” features a few massive twists. At times “Spider-Man” truly and refreshingly defied my expectations. Particularly Parker’s relationships with romantic interest Liz (Laura Harrier) surprised me. Hannibal Burress enjoys a brief but stellar role as the gym coach, there are several cameos by Captain America (Chris Evans), and Jacob Batalon puts in a masterful performance as Parker’s sidekick Ned.
Admittedly, “Spider-Man Homecoming” pretty much telegraphs where it’s heading. Though several moments do genuinely shock, it’s a bit predictable in places. Still, though it adheres to a clear cut superhero formula, “Homecoming” also brings a fresh feeling. Largely, this derives from the focus on a cast of teenagers. I loved the dynamic which this created. There’s an engaging mix of what feels important to a high schooler, versus weighty issues of saving lives.
Overall, “Spider-Man Homecoming” once again reboots the Spider-Man tale. Though it’s pretty standard superhero fare, several major twists, an origin story atmosphere, and unique setting make “Homecoming” one of the strongest MCU entries to date.