Spider-Man: Homecoming-- Sick of Training Wheels
Editor's note: This review contains spoilers of the film’s plot.
The apropos title, Spider-Man: Homecoming, not only alludes to the climactic battle on Homecoming night and conveys the teenage experience central to this film, it also warmly welcomes Spiderman home--into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Usually, competitors do not share their multi-billion dollar icons, but Sony and Disney are clearly breaking that norm. Teenager Tom Holland’s rendition of Spiderman first won the hearts of viewers in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Although Spiderman’s introduction to MCU in Captain America: Civil War was merely 30 minutes and somewhat inconsequential to the main storyline, many felt Spiderman stole the show. His eager enthusiasm and comical immaturity captured Spiderman’s true character-- that of a child.
Spider-Man: Homecoming capitalizes on the youthful energy audiences swooned over in Holland’s debut, and opens with the same boisterous, homemade videoclips Peter Parker created on his first Avengers mission in Captain America: Civil War. Starting here, Jon Watts completely ignores the classic transformation scenes: being bit by the radioactive spider, and Peter’s inaction to prevent Uncle Ben’s death. That story stands well-known, engrained, and simply overtold (two times over the past 15 years). Watts cleverly chooses to start afresh. Instead of screening the birth of Peter Parker’s powers, Spider-Man: Homecoming starts with an upgrade--an ‘Iron-Man-esque,’ Spidey suit which Peter endearingly calls “Suit Lady.”
Avengers’ heyday behind, Spider-Man: Homecoming begins with Tony Stark (Iron Man) returning Peter home to Auntie May and asserting “We’ll call you.” Peter becomes glued to his phone, itching for a call to action. Craving to prove his capability, Peter ventures out to protect Queens from petty crime. During his rounds, Peter happens upon an ATM robbery and unexpectedly ends up combating alien weaponry. The main Villain, Birdman (Michael Keaton), who true comic junkies would instantly connect to Vulture, contrasts with Spiderman. Due to the world’s harsh financial reality, Birdman became jaded, pessimistic, and ultimately a criminal. Conversely, Spiderman represents an untainted and optimistic beacon of idealism. They are not only fighting over extra-terrestrial weaponry, but also clashing in ideology.
Spider-Man: Homecoming avoids vocalizing Spiderman’s iconic catchphrase, “with great power, comes great responsibility,” but rather instills that message through it’s coming-of-age narrative. Peter struggles to embrace his limiting adolescent reality, exclaiming, “I’m tired of Mr. Stark treating me like a kid, [I] can stop a bus with [my] bare hands!” True, Spiderman impressively saves his classmates from falling to their death in the Washington monument’s broken elevator… problem is he caused the commotion in the first place. When Peter’s reckless passion causes an entire boat of innocents to nearly become collateral damage, Stark intervenes, and strips Peter of his technology-equipped suit. In the end, losing his Spidey suit oddly empowers Peter, for it teaches him, “if you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” Peter ends up entering the climactic battle in his old, simple disguise. We get a taste of the nostalgic Spiderman, before MCU reintroduced him, modernized him, and linked him to Iron Man--mentee, techy suit and all. Although, in the concluding scene, Stark offers Peter his suit back, and invites him to officially join the Avengers, Peter declines. Peter would “rather just stay on the ground for a little longer,” and be the “friendly neighborhood Spiderman,” we all know and love… but you can be sure an upgrade is coming soon… to theaters near you.
Upon the film’s conclusion, the audience also remains enticed by Peter’s romantic prospects. Spiderman’s love life takes on a new twist in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Rather than sticking to the iconic MJ, in the movie Peter crushes on Liz, the captain of his scholastics team. In the final scenes, Liz leaves school and a new team captain takes over… MJ. The new MJ appears mysterious, atypical, and edgy. The MJ name may be the same, but the girl donning it certainly is not. Will Peter fall for this new MJ in MCU’s next work?
The movie leaves the viewer intrigued, mulling with suspicions, and filled with a desire for more. Spider-Man: Homecoming presents an innovative storyline in a modernized setting, while remaining true to Spiderman’s teenage persona. Unlike the other two, recent, failed reboots of Spiderman, here Spidey was played by a real teenager. The movie is lighthearted and fun. It certainly kept the theater laughing. One disclaimer: the unsubtle special effects strip the major action scenes of their realism and artistic merit. Nonetheless, Spider-Man: Homecoming entertains.