We’re all familiar with the story of Peter Parker being bit by a radioactive spider, so the smartest thing this movie did was to cut all that shit out. I love that it’s not a retread of the other movies, there’s no Mary-Jane, no Gwen Stacey, no Harry Osborne, not even a Daily Bugle to hit someone on the face as they run by. At no point, does Peter pick up a camera and I can’t tell you what a relief that is. It’s a story about Spider-Man working out who he is, without the weight of history and foreshadowing. It bloody works, and it makes the film so much lighter. This Peter Parker comes with less angst than any previous incarnations, and it’s true to life – he’s a teenage boy with an amazing tech suit-thing plus access to Tony Stark, what’s to complain about?
Tom Holland also brings an enthusiasm that wasn’t there before. He’s a Spider-Man that loves life, loves his friends and likes helping people. It’s refreshing to see a superhero that wants to be there and enjoys what he does, as opposed to the superhero who is there because of grim circumstance and responsibility (hey DCEU, I’m looking at you.)
Michael Keaton also works as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture. In comparison to other Marvel villains, it’s easier to understand his motivations and he’s a compelling presence on screen. He’s not a monster chasing magic rocks to rule the universe, he’s a guy with a winged suit trying to scratch some money together. Evil can be banal too. I read one review that said, “In short, the Vulture is the first supervillain who seems like he voted for Trump.” That characterisation is bang on because you recognise Toomes’ grievances as the ones that have changed the US so dramatically in the last year.
Also I have to shout-out the diversity of the cast. There’s interracial marriages! There are Indians! African-Americans! Asians! Everyone’s there and acting like teenagers, it makes my heart warm. Hopefully this isn’t an anomaly and it continues with Spider-Man: Graduation.
There’s a cameo with Donald Glover as Aaron Davis, which pings the suspicion that Marvel may be trying to create a bigger universe around Spider-Man. The Avengers will have to wind up eventually so who better to take its place when it goes? The bigwigs at Marvel know they have a good thing with Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr has already said that he’s going to stop doing Iron Man when it gets embarrassing (soon Downey, soon). It’ll be interesting to see where we are with this in 2023.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the better Marvel movies. I know that’s a big call to make. This movie single-handedly shook off years of Spider-Man fatigue. Sorry Tobey. Sorry Andrew.