“Can’t you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man?” Apparently not.
Peter Parker’s back – and this time, he’s coming home (haha) with the main cast of Marvel superheroes in the MCU.
Tom Holland proves that he can carry his weight as the third Spiderman to don the costume. Not only is his version of Spidey the truest to his comic book counterpart – high school age/ young, eager to learn and reckless -, Tom also pulls it off with the type of earnestness that I miss from Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the hero. His awkwardness and intelligence is also reminiscent of Andrew Garfield’s take, making him (in my eyes at least) an okay fit for the role.
Another thing that sets this movie apart is the diversity of its cast. The last time I watched a movie with a cast of various races (with speaking lines/ good amount of screen time) being portrayed rather respectfully was… Pacific Rim, almost 5 years ago. Watching the characters go about their lives set in a modern, everyday setting (Pacific Rim takes place in a darker, grimmer future) felt refreshing because I finally see more than just white people on the screen. Even the background characters are multi-racial, which is a detail that seems to be missing from most Hollywood movies.
Photo: Marvel Studios
One of the most enjoyable scenes was the drive to Peter’s Homecoming dance. It was painfully awkward and tense, played with the right facial expressions from the two main characters.
Despite these good points, I couldn’t bring myself to truly enjoy the show.
Having spent nearly a good half of my life watching Marvel movies, I now feel kind of tired of the entire franchise.
Marvel movies now follow a standard formula. While this leads to an inevitably entertaining movie being produced, I can’t help but feel as though Marvel is playing it too safe with its choices. On the one hand, it’s understandable why they’d stick to it – it works, and with their reign on comic book superheroes, there doesn’t seem to be a need to actively change up the genre like what they did with Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. On the other hand, since this is the 16th instalment of the MCU, it feels very tiring to watch the same kind of sequences over and over. As a result, Spidey falls really flat.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so critical of a character who has been rebooted three times (!!) during my 22 years. After all, there are really only so many ways you can say “With great power comes great responsibility!” each time (without actually uttering the sentence).
One of the other things that irked me was how utterly idealistic Peter remains in the face of catastrophic disaster. This is probably a grievance I alone share – having watched Tony struggle through his numerous mistakes and character growth, I feel like I’m more than ready to dive into storylines that delve deeper into each hero’s psyche and watch their relationships with their peers grow. But this is, of course, not going to be possible here since it’s the first instalment of the Marvel Spiderman franchise – Peter’s going to need a proper “origin” story in order to re-introduce him proper to the MCU audience.
Additionally, it was strange how Peter didn’t really seem to face (or even recognise) the consequences of his actions in both his real, academic and superhero lives. While some may wave this off by saying that this is just a work of fiction, the lack of finger pointing and punishment is a stark (haha) contrast to how Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is usually vilified for his mistakes.
Speaking of being irked, I guess that’s how Tony felt after watching Peter continuously dive headfirst into danger. The relationship between Peter and Tony was one of the things that I was excited about, as they are obvious reflections of each other. In fact, Spiderman: Homecoming felt like a condensed version of Iron Mans 1, 2 and 3. Their conversation about how Peter is nothing without the suit is a throwback to Tony’s declaration of “the suit and I are one” in Iron Man 2, and I couldn’t help but empathise with Tony’s worry on Peter’s lack of self-confidence sans costume. We’ve already seen Tony go through his self-destructive, low morale phase only to realise that his greatest superpower is his intellect. Watching him repeat that lesson to Peter and give him some tough love was frustrating because Peter would obviously not be ready to take that in yet. But hey, that’s part of growing up for you – some lessons are better off learnt through mistakes and failure, even if someone did warn you about them in the first place.
I was also surprised at how little of a role both Michelle (played by Zendaya) and Tony played in this show. Nevertheless, their appearances and lines are clearly meant to hint at Spidey’s future storylines – something I’m excited for with such a good supporting cast. MJ seems to be harbouring a crush on Peter, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) makes for a funny and excitable sidekick, and Tony Revolori’s take on Flash Thompson is a refreshing change from an antagonist to a frenemy. Donald Glover and Hannibal Buress also provide funny cameos that lighten the monotony of the show.
Overall, Spiderman: Homecoming is mostly entertaining and a good way to pass about 2.5 hours of your life. It has just the right amount of action, Marvel references/ cameos and comedic timing to make it a smooth (but stereotypical) Marvel flick.