Text Samantha Van Hoozer
With a $257 million worldwide opening, Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into the MCU as an overwhelming success. Even after so many reboots, fans are still lining up eagerly to see their favorite web slinging hero, and with Homecoming it paid off.
The film is a fun, action packed and often hilarious adventure, ultimately with a lot of heart. With a stellar cast lead by the incredibly talented Tom Holland, Spider-Man makes his official entrance into the world of the Avengers, promising to be a vital part of Marvel’s future phases. Fans and critics alike are singing Tom Holland’s praises, and I couldn’t agree more. Tobey McGuire’s iteration of the superhero has always been close to my heart, but Tom Holland runs away with this one hands down. He is the Spider-Man that we’ve been waiting for. Whereas Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield were much older than Peter Parker was supposed to be, Tom Holland is finally a near high school-aged actor playing a high school-aged character, and it fits like a glove. Because of their difference in age, McGuire and Garfield never had quite the right temperament for the character, giving the films a darker tone than they were meant to have. With Homecoming, the tone is finally right. Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, because he’s a nerdy teenager going through the journey of growing up, dealing with all of the ridiculous problems that come with surviving high school.
Peter’s best friend Ned, played by the hilarious Jacob Batalon, and MJ played by the brilliant Zendaya, are stand outs in Homecoming, delivering some of the best lines in the film. They prove that having a diverse and interesting supporting cast is vital to push a film that would otherwise be just okay--over the edge.
Another brilliant addition to Homecoming was the incredible Michael Keaton as The Vulture/Adrian Toomes. Bucking Marvel’s villain problem, Keaton played a complex, morally ambiguous antagonist who was the perfect foil to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. He was a man trying to support his family, representing the struggle of the working class against the rich and powerful, and making it difficult to really even call him a villain. He made quite a few morally ambiguous decisions, but didn’t end up actually hurting anyone. To top it all off, the plot twist where Peter went to pick up his girlfriend Liz for the homecoming dance, and Michael Keaton’s Vulture opened the door was one of the best that the MCU has given us.
The film’s only major flaw came with the wasted exploration of the father figure/mentor relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker. There were a few scenes between Tony and Peter that brilliantly showed Tony’s character development, and how hard he is trying to be the supporting father figure to Peter that Howard never was to him, but there was so little of it in the film that it didn’t have nearly as big of an impact as it should have. After all of the promotion for Homecoming that emphasized Tony Stark’s role as Peter’s mentor, he only had about 3 scenes and ten minutes total of screen time. I understand that this is first and foremost a Spider-Man movie and Iron Man shouldn’t take center stage, but if you include Tony Stark, you might as well use him correctly.
The mistake came with using Happy Hogan as a sort of middleman between Peter and Tony. Instead of face-to-face interactions between Tony and Peter, most of them came through phone calls, which were often rudely ignored by Happy first. Yes, Tony is a busy man but he obviously cares deeply for Peter, and it doesn’t make sense that he would use Happy to communicate with him instead of talking to Peter directly. The only scene between Tony and Peter that actually had emotional weight was when he showed up in person after helping Peter save the passengers on the Staten Island Ferry. After Peter’s disastrous attempt to take on The Vulture by himself, he confronted Tony saying, “If you really cared you would actually be here”--not expecting that Tony was in the suit. When Tony stepped out of the suit with an intense look of fear that Peter could have been seriously hurt written all over his face, it was a powerful moment.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is by far the best Spider-Man film, but it wasn’t without its flaws. The frankly bizarre reappearance of Pepper Potts in the final moments of the film--and the news that she and Tony are engaged--seems to ignore everything that happened in Civil War, putting the film slightly out of touch with Marvel’s usually intricately woven plot progression.