Note: THIS IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW
Superheroes have taken over the box office in the 21st century and, despite all of the movies that have come out recently on the topic, I find superhero movies to be one of the most entertaining genres around. I count movies like The Incredibles, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight as some of my personal favorites. Another superhero franchise that I’ve closely followed is the Spiderman franchise, which has gone through multiple reboots and directors. Though I own all of the movies from the Spiderman trilogy and Amazing Spiderman series, I haven’t found a Spiderman movie that I truly enjoy. Thankfully, the newest Spiderman movie swung into theaters this July and this flick takes its place among the upper echelon of the superhero genre.
Spiderman: Homecoming is the first Spiderman movie to be produced by Marvel, and they took the franchise in an entirely new direction. Gone is the “with great power comes great responsibility” backstory that was repeated by both of the previous franchises. Peter Parker, the man behind the Spidey Suit (or in it), is now a high school sophomore and his Aunt May got about 30 years younger from her renditions in the previous Spiderman movies. This film also incorporates the Marvel cinematic universe, with cameos by Tony Stark/Iron Man and Captain America.
Of those changes, it’s the younger Spiderman (Tom Holland) that is most instrumental in the dramatic change of style of this Spiderman movie. Whereas the previous Spiderman movies were focused in on a college Peter Parker, Spiderman: Homecoming takes the persona of its younger protagonist, giving the film a more comedic, amusing style. This film goes beyond the traditional one-line quips and uses Peter’s age to set up tense but entertaining situations. Though it takes a more comical route, Spiderman: Homecoming gets serious when it needs to get serious and strikes a perfect balance between the two tones.
Spiderman: Homecoming also does something right where its predecessors failed- its main character. I enjoyed most of the original Spiderman movies, but my enjoyment was in spite of actors Tobey Maguire (Spiderman, S2, and S3) and Andrew Garfield (Amazing Spiderman, AS2), who were, to put it harshly and honestly, pathetic in their roles. Tom Holland’s Spiderman, on the other hand, is a superhero that I could root for. Yes, he’s young and he makes mistakes, but his motives are in the right place and he genuinely cares about helping people and the greater good. As a high schooler, Peter was more relatable and his struggles and reactions resonated with me. Holland did a fantastic job as Parker and easily beats out Maguire and Garfield in the acting department. In this movie, the minds at Marvel brought Peter Parker to the big screen as he was meant to be.
Another essential element to a superhero movie that Marvel nailed was the villain. What made Spiderman 2 the best movie of the original bunch was its villain- the devastating Doctor Octopus. He was a technological terror, was every bit Spiderman’s equal, and was understandable as a character. Marvel achieved almost the same effect with Michael Keaton as the Vulture, another tech-studded villain who had clear and relatable motives. As with Maguire’s Spiderman and Doc Ock, Spiderman and the Vulture have epic battle sequences that are visually stunning and advance the story. And, as any great villain should do, I had visions of the Vulture in my head as I left the theater.
Spiderman: Homecoming was every ounce the success that I expected and audiences deserve. The acting was superb, the dialogue had the theater falling out of their seats, and for the first time, I had a Spidey that I wanted to win. The product kept me captive for the duration of the film and left me wanting more. That’s a victory in my book.