SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING: Mastering an Original Origin Story

I get it–you’re sick of seeing yet another Spider-Man movie and are wondering why you should spend your money on this one. Admittedly, when I first heard the franchise was being rebooted with yet another actor playing Spidey, I was a little skeptical too. But believe me when I say SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a delightful summer blockbuster that you should not miss seeing on the big screen (after WONDER WOMAN, of course).  Admittedly, I am a huge fan of the other movies in the franchise (perhaps maybe even SPIDER-MAN 3), but where HOMECOMING particularly excels is being an origin story without technically being an origin story… meaning you get to see Peter Parker developing into Spider-Man without all of the backstory we have seen time and time again.

In this version of Spider-Man, the filmmakers celebrate what we usually aren’t shown in superhero movies. What do the heroes do in their off time? What happens if there isn’t crime going on; are they bored? Are there any times the superheroes miscalculate a situation? I loved seeing Spidey fall down and make mistakes when he was trying to save the world; it made him seem more real. I also appreciated that finally a Marvel film discussed what happened after all of the alien destruction following, well, every movie… but especially AVENGERS. With all of this alien technology crashing to Earth, what happens if it gets into the wrong hands and what is the government doing to clean the destruction areas?

The film spends its opening minutes spanning from the introduction of Spider-Man during last year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and quickly moves to life after Spidey’s big moment. Now that the world is more or less safe, what now… wait for another call from Tony Stark? How long will that take? It’s these moments that the film is based on; Parker trying to find himself and his own persona outside the shadow of Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers… all while trying to navigate high school.

Of course HOMECOMING’s action scenes are edge-of-your-seat thrilling, but where the movie really excels is in its characters. Tom Holland (Parker) is as charming as he is delightful. Utilizing his own gymnastics skills, Holland appears to be having so much fun playing our favorite web-slinger and it really rubs off on the tone of the film. Beginning in the opening shot, we see Parker acting like a typical 15-year-old, using his iPhone to capture exciting moments of his life; only for him, he is filming (and narrating) his participation in saving the world shot POV-style from an iPhone camera. I also loved Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as Parker, so major props to Holland for finding a way to make the character his own; his youthful energy was able to sell the character’s adolescent struggles to find himself and gain approval from those he values the most.

Equally great is Michael Keaton (aka “The Vulture”), who is no stranger to superheroes himself. However, this time he’s less hero, more villain. One particularly heated scene between Keaton and Holland in a car is easily the best of the film. Just through dialogue and glances (shot perfectly by cinematographer Salvatore Totino) the filmmakers are able to create the most tense, but subtle, moments in the movie. Others may think some of the bigger action scenes were the major set pieces of the movie, but I was drawn to the more intense character-driven scenes that focused on the person to person relationships between the characters.

From school bullies to love interests to sidekicks, the film is easily the most inclusive of any superhero movie released so far. It’s unfortunate that in 2017 we are still applauding films for :gasp: diversity, but here we are. One of the standouts of the film was Peter Parker’s sidekick Ned (Jacob Batalon), or as he would prefer to be known “the guy in the chair”. Batalon brought a lot of the comic relief to the movie, and was the voice of all of us fanboys and fangirls geeking out about Spider-Man. You better believe if my friend was superhero’ing it up, I would be peppering the questions and wearing the mask too.

What a great year for superhero films! From LOGAN to GUARDIANS to (ahem: the best superhero movie of them all) WONDER WOMAN, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING does not bring down the hype, but instead keeps it cranked up to epic proportions. Your move, JUSTICE LEAGUE… hope you have a serious reserve of Wonder Woman footage to keep the streak alive!

 

My Review: A-