The last solo Spider-Man film was three years ago. You know what that means? Another Spider-Man reboot! But this time, the teenage Peter Parker doesn’t look like he’s in his mid-thirties or like a twenty-something year old Hollister model. No, this time he looks like an eighteen-year-old pretending to be a fifteen-year-old. And that’s okay.
Inevitably, a film about teenagers means hiring actors in their twenties, but at least here we are tricked into believing Peter Parker is indeed a naïve fifteen-year-old, trying to mature from a Spider-Boy into a Spider-Man. Here Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a witty, nerdy, intelligent and over-confident kid from New York and it’s exactly who Peter Parker should be. His motivations throughout the film are clear and believable. He tries his best to impress father figure Tony Stark, only to do the opposite and do what teenagers do best: fail at stuff. He struggles to keep his secret as best friend Ned finds out what the Stark Internship Programme really means and he also deals with falling in love with fellow student Liz. Like with the other two film versions of the character, Peter Parker has to balance being a superhero and being a kid, only this time it feels more real. The rest of the characters also feel real. The cheap high school clichés of the nerds, the bullies and the popular kids are replaced by characters who feel genuine. Sure, Peter is picked on by Flash, but he isn’t being bullied for his lunch money whilst Flash’s entourage watch on and laugh.
Spider-Man: Homecoming feels more like a teen comedy than a superhero movie and that’s very refreshing. We’re not watching Peter Parker get bitten by a spider, train for a bit and then stop a man in a metallic bird costume destroy New York (Thank God we aren’t forced to sit through another Spider-Man origin story). But, the fact that this is more of a comedy means that the action sequences aren’t anything special. Things explode, there are purple lasers and Spider-Man swings about a bit. If Peter never put on the suit, this film would still be an entertaining one. And how many superhero movies can boast that?
Stylistically, this film has little to offer. But this isn’t surprising. Most Marvel Universe films feel and look similar and this one doesn’t break any stylistic rules. But, there are glimmers of visual originality. Spider-Man’s suit appears quite cartoony with Deadpool-like eyes and a rubbery look. This may be distracting to some but I think it adds to the feel of the film. The addition of Peter’s vlog as he goes and fights Captain America and his gang at the end of Civil War is another great part of the film. This again makes the character of Spider-Man feel real. As if he could really be out there, stopping crimes and helping old ladies cross the street.
This film feels relatively small scale and this is one reason as to why it works so well. Spider-Man isn’t having to stop Michael Keaton from destroying the world, instead stopping him from stealing some of Tony Stark’s Avengers gear. But this doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high. The surprisingly effective and satisfying plot twist makes sure of that. In comparison to the type of villains that usually appear in other Marvel movies, Keaton’s Vulture is one of the best. He wants to look out for his family whilst rebelling against the same people Spider-Man is rebelling against. He’s evil enough to root against but keeps a level of humanity throughout. And that is probably the biggest selling point of this film: the humanity. These are real people going through real problems in a world where green giants and CGI aliens exist.
For a film with six writers, this certainly isn’t bad. It pains me to compare this to all the other Marvel films out there but I guess it’s in the job description whenever watching one of these movies. I’d much rather compare it to a film like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club and the fact that this is in the Marvel Universe kind of makes me a bit sad. Spider-Man will unavoidably return for ensemble pieces such as the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Will they do this character justice in a film where there are twenty-five plus main characters? I guess we can only hope that Spidey manages to defeat his biggest foe yet – the Marvel Universe itself.