In 15 years, Sony has rebooted the Spider-Man franchise 3 separate times – 3 different actors portraying Peter Parker / Spider-Man in less than 2 decades. The difference between Spider-Man and say a Batman or Superman comes from the actual stories being told. A new iteration for Batman doesn’t mean a previous one failed – The Dark Knight trilogy is stylistically different from Zack Snyder’s version as it is from Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher. The problem surrounding Spider-Man starts and ends with its DNA. Tobey’s version was a better Peter Parker while Andrew’s was a better Spider-Man. Both iterations followed the same structure with two vastly different tones and theme’s so at least their identities were different from one another.
Enter Kevin Feige and the blossoming Marvel Cinematic Universe to save the day and keep Sony from continuously shooting itself in the foot with their biggest licensable property. When word of a deal was struck to share the web head on the big screen, all felt right in the world. Aside from a minor misstep or two (Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2, Inhumans) we all believe in Kevin Feige, there is no way he would mess up one of the most popular and recognizable characters in comic book history.
Some of the more prominent Spider-Man stories happened while Peter Parker (Tom Holland) was in high school (hence why all three versions have started in his high school origin days). But Marvel’s version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the most comic book accurate iteration out of the 3. Skipping the origin story entirely (because why should we as the audience be subjected to a 3rd Uncle Ben dying and seeing a spider bite Peter in the span of 15 years). Even the casual fan would realize this plot is played out. Instead, lines of dialogue catch us up to the point in Peter’s life post Captain America: Civil War. With Tom being one of the many standouts in that film.
And it didn’t take long for a stand-alone Spider-Man film to be greenlit after his MCU introduction. Sophomore year in high school is stressful enough without powers, responsibility and greatness thrust upon you, but that’s Peter. Peter is balancing a full workload of school, being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man who stops bike thieves, does backflips for street vendors, helps old lady’s cross the street, and stops bank robberies, but he also builds Lego sets with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and tries to get the attention of his crush Liz (Laura Harrier) all while being in the Stark internship and being ignored by Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).
Now I already reviewed Spider-Man: Homecoming a while ago which can be read here, but in prep for No Way Home, it felt logical to revisit this John Hughes inspired superhero tale. And what better way to connect Spider-Man to the larger expanding universe by including Happy Hogan and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in smaller supporting roles. Meanwhile the marketing for the film suggested Iron Man would play a larger part in the story. Still, their inclusion almost takes away from Peter’s character. Previous Spider-Man films didn’t have to rely on other actors to draw interest.
Throughout the 133-minute runtime (the longest Spider-Man film to date) every facet of Peter’s heroism is reliant on Tony as if Tom Holland’s Peter wasn’t interesting enough. Certainly, the humor is there – Tom is the funniest of the three actors to play the role with the sarcastic side of him coming out when the suit is on. The team of writers wrote the best mix of Parker and Spider-Man – able to channel the scientific genius who creates his web shooters (Thank God the organic web died with Raimi’s trilogy) has one friend and gets bullied constantly by Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) while able to fill the shoes of a hero. A brand-new hero at that – he’s only been Spider-Man for half a year when the events of the film pick up after the flashback to Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) decides to create weapons out of Chitauri technology and sell them.
It’s no secret the MCU has had a gaping flaw in one aspect of their expanding universe – the villain. Only a handful of villains, and that’s being generous, have made a significant impact on the films while majority are instantly forgettable. Loki, The Red Skull, teases of Thanos and the Winter Soldier have all brought their A game with their respective actors, but Vulture deserves the recognition too. Keaton’s delivery will send shivers up and down your spine when he speaks nearly inaudibly while the character is given a solid arc and development. What makes Adrian Toomes a great villain is that he will kill to protect his family no matter who interferes with his business. He gets his hands dirty for a reason and Keaton nails it.
Complimenting Tom is both Jacob and Zendaya. Though Peter and Michelle have very litter interaction with one another, the chemistry between Tom and Zendaya is livelier and more energetic with the comedic and more lighthearted nature of their relationship. Resembling Andrew and Emma rather the lifeless Tobey and Kirsten. Michelle is also the only one who can basically see-through Peter’s secret besides Ned. No one else can figure out Peter is Spider-Man? Spider-Man just coincidentally ends up wherever Peter is supposed to be.
In a way Spider-Man: Homecoming takes all the criticism from the previous two versions and learns from their missteps. Focusing on character and story rather than throwing everything but the kitchen sink in to see what sticks makes Homecoming worth the pseudo origin story. Sticking close to the comics, Homecoming is the closest Spider-Man has felt to feeling correctly handled by both Sony and Marvel Studios coming together for the sake of the character.
For me (and I’m sure a lot of others) Tom Holland best represents both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Adrian Toomes/Vulture is the best villain since Doc Ock and Michael Giacchino’s score is the best since Danny Elfman’s iconic score from the Raimi trilogy. Full of heart, charm, humor and awkward teen angst, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a breath of fresh air the character and studios desperately needed. Third time must be the charm for this character as its finally handled with care from the Marvel Studios head honcho.
Written By: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Directed By: Jon Watts
Music By: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Salvatore Totino
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Marisa Tomei, Tony Revolori
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Running Time: 2 Hours 13 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
My Score: 4 out of 5
Based On: Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko