Friday, 7 July 2017

Spider-Man Homecoming - My Thoughts

Well, this is how you make a Spider-Man movie.
The short review - Spider-Man: Homecoming is great, definitely the best Spidey movie overall and it sits comfortably within the top 5 MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies. This is due to the film delivering the truest version of the character on the big screen we’ve seen, together with a truly great coming of age story.

Before I go in to more detail I’d like to give a bit of context to my Spider-Man fandom… Spider-Man is my joint favourite superhero (Batman being the other). I’ve read a lot of the comics but primarily my love started with the 90s animation, which I watched religiously as a child. In terms of the films, I really enjoyed the previous incarnations, however both have issues.

The first two Raimi Spider-Man films had great stories, but the main problem I had with these films is that I never really warmed to Tobey Maguire’s version of Peter Parker or Kirsten Dunst’s version of Mary-Jane. The less we say about Spider-Man 3 the better…

The rebooted “Amazing” films were almost the exact opposite, they had a great central relationship with Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey (played by the very likeable Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone). Yet the stories were all over the place, with gapping plot holes and inconsistencies. If it wasn’t for the great performances and chemistry between Garfield and Stone these films (especially the second) would be almost unwatchable.

So this brings us on to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which has the best of both; a great story and interesting likeable characters.

Let’s dig into the details…

Peter Parker is the soul of any Spider-Man film, and in my opinion Tom Holland is the definitive version that most closely resembles the character from the source material. He balances the socially awkward / geeky personality traits, whilst still being charismatic and likeable. He’s great to watch, owns every scene he’s in and never gets upstaged by the more experienced actors around him.

The fact this movie is mostly set in or around High School also means Peter finds himself in situations much more in keeping with the original stories, i.e. being late to class, having to leave a party early, fighting petty crime after a day at school, etc. It really is the Spider-Man you read in the comics come to life, balancing academics, friendships and his superhero alter-ego antics. But would you expect anything less from a film made by Marvel Studios?

You could argue that the other characters are less faithful to the comics, Vulture / Adrian Toomes being a prime example; No longer a frail and old billionaire, here we have the everyman just trying to get by. Flash Thompson is no longer the jock, but a rich arrogant nerd. Aunt May is now young and feisty, etc. Yet, it all just works and services the story.

Although the film doesn’t tell the traditional origin story, we are still early in Spidey’s career. To compare it to a famous Batman story, this is very much Spider-Man: Year One. Peter is still learning his way around his powers, how and when to do the right thing, and all whilst trying to balance his personal life.

The action scenes are also great, but very different to how we’ve seen Spidey before. There are no huge swinging by sky-scrapper type sequence (which I missed a little as I loved them), they are grounded in (some form) of reality, with Peter being forced to run when he can’t get a decent height to swing. However this works, as this is a new hero, he’s learning the ropes (literally).

Disappointingly, the two stand out sequence have mostly been revealed in the trailers (Washington Monument and the Stanton Ferry). That being said there was a lot more Spider-Man going about town tackling petty crime, which was great. I loved this type of stuff in the comics and the previous films always skimmed over it. I was surprised that the climax didn’t feature the proper Spidey suit, but this does fit with the overall themes of the movie so it works well.

There’s great comedy throughout, with a mix of witty dialogue, character interaction and physical / slapstick humour. I particularly enjoyed when Spider-Man sneaks up on a few bank robbers yet takes time to consider what pose he should be in before he alerts them. These few seconds build so much character and understanding of our hero’s motivation, it’s fantastic. The film is filled with stuff like this.

I really liked how the villains fit into the story. The Vulture’s motivations were developed effectively and the fact he was fully formed within the opening minutes work well for the film – it meant no time was wasted setting up his origin so we could focus of Peter. Likewise the side villains of the Shocker and the Tinkerer also worked well by having them all be part of the same group from the start.

The links with the MCU (of which there are quite a few) feel very organic to the story, and never feel shoe-horned in.

The fact I’ve yet to mention Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, really says it all. Despite what the marketing would have you believe, this is truly a Spider-Man film. It just happens to have an Iron Man cameo – in no way is it a team up movie. The relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark is a main part of the story and drives many of Peter’s decisions, however it’s minimal in terms of actual screen-time between the two. All of Tony Stark’s scenes (apart from one) are in the trailer. Happy Hogan actually gets the most of the screen time and acts as a liaison between the two.

I could write more, but I think that’s the main points covered.

In summary – I loved it.


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