'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Continues Superheroes' Glorious Summer
There's no doubt now that comic book films are enjoying a heck of a streak. Yes, they are still commercial vehicles, and yes they are derivative. But the people making them are aware of this, finally. If Logan, Wonder Woman, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and now Spider-Man: Homecoming are anything to go by, the requisite work is being done to make fine cinematic events of obligatory tent-poles. Love it or hate it, this could very well be the comic book genre's golden age.
But this article is about Spidey. Fifteen years, three iterations and six films down, and our friendly neighborhood superhero still abides. Director Jon Watts' film, the first dedicated Spiderman film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is made with guileless ambition and the simple intention to charm, thrill and upgrade. After the questionable and passable entries from the Amazing Spiderman series (no disrespect to the commendable Andrew Garfield), and the egregiously abysmal final installment from (an otherwise excellent) Sam Raimi, Homecoming shirks the burden of any origin story and goes right into the meat of the coming-of-age tale of a high school kid, navigating adolescence, peculiar abilities, and the conditional support of Tony Stark.
Homecoming is an unbridled delight. We have a solid story, ingenious dialogue, and unforgettable action sequences (with some crafty homages to Spider-men past). But it's Tom Holland's naive charm (he's the youngest actor, playing the youngest Peter Parker), and the performances of the ensemble cast that make this chapter sizzle. Michael Keaton portrays villainy without that inexplicable kitsch we've been wearied by, Zendaya brings innocence and adorableness to the proceedings, and there are refreshing appearances from Abraham Atta (remember him from Beasts Of No Nation?), Garcelle Beauvais, Hannibal Burgess and Marisa Tomei as May (they prefer not to call her Aunt).
Homecoming plays squarely in the present MCU timeline, but it hits its own familiar beats; the love story, the charming sidekick, conflict with a bully, the origin of the villain (where Watts' brevity is particularly refreshing), and the categorical coincidences that move the story in odd directions. As much as we're acquainted with them, they never come off as obligatory.
Some audiences have taken issue with Spidey's suit; not a homemade garment any more, but a technical marvel worthy of the Stark Industries, complete with A.I. repartee voiced by Jennifer Connelly. It makes Peter's heroic duties easier, but adds a complexity to his journey we haven't seen before.
The film isn't afraid of tackling touchy subjects; taking jabs at race, sexuality and class identity. But it also hilariously addresses questions we've had for years. What happens to all that webbing Spidey leaves in his wake? How dexterous is he when cityscapes are replaced with open fields? To what extent do arachnidian qualities take over Peter's body? How is superheroism addressed pubescent social circles in person and (more interestingly) online?
All these things considered, the film's biggest victory is its simplicity of being. It exists to honour its source material and the world that formed it. Just like Peter Parker, Homecoming acknowledges its own innocence, surrounded by an inhospitable world; one it is duty-bound to make better.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is showing in cinemas all over town. Oh, and stick around after the credits. All of them.