Spiderman Homecoming: Review
Readers beware, for spoilers lie here!
A little more than fifteen years after the release of the first Spiderman, fans are flooding their local theaters to see the newest iteration and chapter in Peter Parker’s timeless story. Our friendly neighborhood Spiderman has, ironically enough, aged down for this version of comic-influenced events, but his awkward teenage charm and (at times) naive pureness of heart have done nothing to deter the infamous lore, rather, they have transformed it into something truly worth watching.
From start to finish, Tom Holland is who fans have most wanted to see out of a Spiderman movie all along: a teenager. While Tobey Maguire’s social awkwardness was certainly means for entertainment and Andrew Garfield’s stutter-driven charm entranced girls across the globe, there is something about Holland’s ability to infuse both in his more juvenile performance that really speaks to the generation of fans watching it. (Not to mention he actually sounds like a teenager.)
The movie begins with “a Film by Peter Parker”, which pans to various “self-shot” scenes from Peter’s recent experience working with the Avengers and their associates, namely Happy Hogan. It’s a wonderfully goofy start to the story that grounds the viewers in Peter’s rookie naivete, a central force driving the plot and the point of the movie home.
Peter, after all, is a fifteen year old boy whose wildest dreams have come true by way of being acknowledged not only by Iron Man, but also by Captain America. He is riding high on the coattails of short lived fame, exhilaration, and the chance to continue doing what he does best—it’s hard for him not to take it all to his head, good intentions aside.
The situation with the primary villain of the movie, however, is a little different. Adrian Toomes is, like a good handful of villains in the MCU, a “victim” of Tony Stark and his multimillionaire, superhero status’s vast influence. After Toomes and his salvaging crew are driven out of business, they decide to manufacture weapons from the scavenged tech already in their possession. A newly christened Peter enters the picture eight years later and lands himself in a mess of epic proportions trying to thwart them, which only adds on to the problems he’s having juggling a school life with a superhero one.
Luckily, Peter is not without support. His best friend, Ned, played by Filipino-American actor Jacob Batalon, brings delightful comedy and support to the screen, not least of all in a scene where he has to cover for helping Peter by telling a teacher he’s watching porn. There’s also applause to be made in regards to Laura Harrier’s character, Liz, who plays not just the part of Peter’s crush, but also his friend and Academic Decathlon teammate, thus fleshing out her character in the best way possible. And we can’t forget Zendaya’s Michelle, who, albeit through mostly comedic lines, speaks to the internally aimless and somewhat depressed teenage soul in all of us, making the prospect of her return in the Spiderman sequel all the more anticipatory. Actress Marisa Tomei’s version of Aunt May, while quite different from previous ones, proves to be just as kind and supportive of her nephew, all while sporting some very cute spunk.
Perhaps the most important secondary character to Peter’s story, however, is one Tony Stark. As Peter makes multiple attempts to save the day from the Vulture and his lackeys, he’s met with a few life-threatening roadblocks, which of course attract the attention of his benefactor. And while Tony certainly has a lot of bad to account for, what makes his presence in this movie worthwhile is his genuine effort to steer Peter away from that path to magnanimous regret.
“If you’re nothing without the suit,” Tony says, in one of the most important lines of the movie, “then you shouldn’t have it.” Initially hurt and taken aback by this rejection of his efforts, Peter burrows further into his mindset that the suit is what makes the hero. But as the movie progresses and moves to the final battle between him and the Vulture, he realizes the truth of Tony’s words by way of his own actions—saving himself from dying under an immense pile of rubble, saving Adrian Toomes from a suicidal explosion, and accepting that for now, carrying on as a friendly neighborhood Spiderman is enough and that’s okay.
What this version of the Spiderman narrative does better than the previous ones is mire itself in the juvenile spirit of children unaware of just how ugly the world around them is. Peter Parker expects being on top of the world to feel like a never-ending thrill, and for a time, it does. But he also comes to realize that being on top means acknowledging all of the ugliness below, and that true strength is gathering up the courage to change it, even if by only a little at a time.
If you’ve seen Spiderman: Homecoming, what are your thoughts? Do you think it’s a fresh reboot of a recycled narrative, or do you think we ought to focus on more important things, like Steve’s possibly final appearance in Infinity War? Comment with your thoughts below!