Well before the wide release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, early preview reviews started rolling out and proclaiming the film to be fantastic. I was a little worried that much of the hype was overblown; that the reviewers were overlooking the movie’s flaws just because they were happy to have Spider-Man as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Granted, I had no reason to feel this way having not seen the movie, but that’s just the anxiety in me. After seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, I realize just how silly this notion was.
For starters, Homecoming doesn’t get bogged down in an origin story. One of movie-goers’ biggest complaints is that the first film in every super hero series is an origin. Most often, it’s necessary to establish where the character comes from. Sometimes, a movie is directed well enough that the audience doesn’t realize they’re watching an origin. For Spider-Man: Homecoming, there’s a quick scene recapping Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) experiences in Berlin prior to his debut in Captain America: Civil War and how Tony Stark (do I even need to put “Robert Downey Jr.” here?) gave him his suit but that’s it. They make references to the spider that bit him but we never see it happen. Thankfully Marvel and Sony understood that audiences know how Peter became Spider-Man.
As a character, Spider-Man has always been about dichotomy, and Homecoming recognized that. Peter Parker is the timid, nerdy, powerless kid but he’s also the strong super hero who can do amazing things. In the movie, though, we see this power divide almost everywhere. Spider-Man wants t do more and help people on a grander scale but Tony Stark limits his abilities and keeps him grounded. Adrian Toomes, the villainous Vulture played by Michael Keaton, is a hard-working, blue-collar salvage worker whose life is threatened when a powerful government organization comes in and claims authority over his jobsite. We can understand his fear and need to do whatever he has to in order to provide for his family. (This was also a nice way to tie Homecoming into the MCU and the events that transpired in Avengers.)
Spider-Man: Homecoming also places a lot of focus on Spidey’s supporting characters. Peter’s best friend, Ned (played by Jacob Batalon, who looks more like Ganke than Ned Leeds but I digress), gets almost as much screen time as Peter himself. School bully Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) shows up often and is much more than a one-note trick than previous portrayed in the other movies. Even a character like Michelle has an abundance of screen time, but that’s to be expected when they put someone like Zendaya in that role.
All of this works to make Spider-Man: Homecoming feel like a true Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man has always been about the people around him. Seventy plus years of comics show us that Spider-Man became the hero he is because of his affection for his friends, and even his tormentors. Previous cinematic versions of Spidey never really got that ideal, or at least never expressed it as well as Homecoming did.
One of my biggest complaints about Homecoming is the way it handled Peter Parker. As the quiet, nerdy kid, Peter either gets picked on or ignored. He lives with his elderly Aunt May, who no doubt maintains her household while living on a fixed income. Peter feels that financial crisis and decides to help carry the burden. However, in Homecoming, Peter isn’t like that. Sure, he gets picked on by Flash Thompson, but overall he has a few close friendships. His peers find value in his intelligence and every time they’re disappointed by him it’s through his own actions. Even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is younger and prettier than her other incarnations (which the movie doesn’t hesitate to joke about), which allows her to continue to provide for herself and her teenage nephew. Peter’s life in Homecoming isn’t that bad.
Being Spider-Man, however, sure as hell seems like it. Homecoming manages to show audiences just how much it sucks to be Spider-Man. He gets yelled at by the public for making mistakes. His actions cause massive damage to the neighborhood he lives in. He puts his life on the line to take down a threat when no one else will listen to him. Why?
Clearly because “with great power comes great responsibility.” The beauty of Spider-Man: Homecoming is that we have a Spider-Man who understands Uncle Ben’s powerful message without having to beat audiences over the head with the phrase. Not once are those words uttered, but we see how much Peter values them. This all goes back to the lack of an origin story. Spider-Man knows when it’s time to do the right thing; whether it’s from the life lesson he learned off-screen from his Uncle Ben or from being mentored by Iron Man himself is irrelevant. It’s a notion that’s inherent in this version of Spider-Man.
There’s lots of things to enjoy about Spider-Man: Homecoming; all of the excellent performances of the cast, most notably by Holland and Keaton, the return of Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan in a true supporting role, and all of the small throwbacks and references the filmmakers added. Overall, what I liked about Homecoming is that this is the closest a movie version of Spider-Man has ever gotten to its comic book roots. The young Peter Parker/Spider-Man has a lot to learn, not just about being a hero but about life in general. They’re not fast forwarding through his growth but allowing audiences to experience it first-hand, which is the most exciting part of the story.
A lot has been going on in Marvel Comics news and many of us have spent a lot of time in some intensely obsessive discussions since the announcement of Secret Wars and the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Big things, long conversations…and we’re kinda just exhausted from talking about it. In fact, the idea of having to reassess and debate Mavel’s decisions from today until December sounds about as fun as a long trudge over hot asphalt. So, in order to give ourselves and everyone else a break: in MCU news, a Civil War inspired meme has popped up all over the internet and we’re kind of in love because it poke’s much needed fun at fan speculation. Here are some of our favorite iterations.
Well, what else can you really say about Tony Stark?
Who knew that this week would include so many new and amazing trailers?
Most people were asleep for the first look at The Amazing Spider-Man reboot late last night and have no idea what they missed. Suit, good. Webshooters, good. Smart Pete, good. And the promo shots must’ve been misleading, because he doesn’t look overly “hipster” at all – not a super nerd, just an everyday kid. Andrew Garfield finally convinces me that he will make a fantastic Spidey, just solely based off the smartass comments. Tobey was always a little too deer in headlights for me, while Andrew starts to flesh out Peter Parker and bring some much needed life to the character. And, as goes without saying, Emma Stone is lovely as always. Maybe a tad bit too breath-y, but those are the lines they chose to show. I like where this is going, but I’m hoping I don’t girlcrush too hard on Emma, knowing Gwen Stacy’s ultimate fate.
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Finally getting the exposure it deserves, the Hunger Games second trailer hit the Super Bowl crowd yesterday. Fans of the franchise will note the inclusion of Katniss’ iconic yellow dress but will probably nerdrage over the Mockingjay origin, and Lenny Kravitz yet again delivers as Cinna without saying a single word. The only issue I have with this trailer and the one before it is that I don’t think it succintly sums up what the actual Games are for new viewers, so they will go into the theater expecting something different.
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Another hit with the Sunday crowd was The Avengers spot. Most of the trailer was footage we had already seen and though there was some nice new banter between Loki and Tony Stark and a couple of Hulk smashes, I didn’t feel that it really pulled me in and delivered in any way. Overall, this trailer could’ve given us way more and I am a little disappointed by it.
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With a surprising win this weekend, my trailer of choice is the underdog, The Amazing Spider-Man! See an amazing trailer this weekend? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!