Spiderman and Batman are my two favourite superheroes. They have been ever since I was a kid, because they both have very good reasons for being superheroes. We all know kids have a strong sense of justice; they know what is fair and not fair before they can even articulate why. While Spiderman can’t stop a meteorite from hitting Earth like Superman or outsmart Batman/Ironman, I would argue that he fights for justice and fairness with more heart than any of those other superheroes.
Spiderman: Homecoming was released July 7, 2017 and blew both fans and critics away. Starring Tom Holland and Michael Keaton, the film follows Peter Parker near the beginning of his Spiderman career, learning how to be a hero under the tutelage of Tony Stark while balancing his life as a high schooler. If we’re being honest, the premise sounds kinda lame, but the brilliance of this film is that it takes this familiar premise and does its own thing with it, making it fresh, funny, exciting, and fun.
This review will look at the good, the bad, and what Spiderman: Homecoming did to stand out from the crowd. There will be spoilers, but this movie is so good you will still enjoy it even if you know what happens.
Spiderman: Homecoming is a great action film. It has a protagonist you can root for, the action comes at perfect intervals, the antagonist is bad, but you still get where he’s coming from, and the comedy diverges from the tiring witty banter so prevalent in other Marvel movies.
I still believe story is the most important part of any film, and Spiderman’s story has been told so many times now in the last twenty years. The first brilliant move of this film is that they skip Uncle Ben’s part of the story. We know it by now, and the film knows that too, so they show us a Peter who is already motivated to do good, who can’t run away from a bad situation. By giving us a Peter who is already defined and an established do-gooder, we can focus on other aspects of his character, such as how he’s still just a kid in New York.
Young Spidey is eager to do good, to use his powers to really make a difference, but the story executes one of the strongest narratives possible: forcing the protagonist to realize what they want isn’t really what they need. By the end of the film, Peter understands that you don’t have to be an Avenger to do good or great things. This lesson is taught within an action-filled blockbuster with triple-A special effects, and the awkward and funny setting of the high school.
Speaking of which, the new MJ was definitely my favourite character for two reasons: she’s an adorable character and she represents the right way to present a reboot. The Mary Jane we know is a fiery redhead who is supposed to be the opposite of Peter’s character. The MJ in this film is a true friend to Peter Parker, but she’s not there to be rescued or wooed. She has her own motives, her own insecurities, her own feelings and desires, and all of this is communicated with minimal screen time. Despite not being the principal love interest, she has way more personality than the girl Peter has a crush on, and I found myself rooting for her more so than when Spidey was fighting Vulture.
The first thing we thought when we learned Vulture would be the bad guy: Laaaaaame. But Michael Keaton has effectively shut us up. The character is interesting because he’s not trying to take over the world, get rich, or kill everybody. Sure, he crosses a line, but ultimately he’s a father and a husband trying to provide for his family and take care of his employees. This reality check, that the world is full of people being just people, is one of the greatest strengths of the film.
The relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark also brings another dimension to the story, and not just for the former either. Seeing Tony in the father-figure role was interesting, and the script pulls it off without making Stark look cheesy or out-of-character.
All in all, Spiderman: Homecoming is tightly-knit story with brilliant performances from the entire cast, unafraid of being its own kind of superhero movie.
There’s nothing bad about this film. Maybe that one guy who works for the Vulture and wants to keep building the super-high altitude thing. He got annoying sometimes. Other than that, this movie is perfect.
The Good Kind of Superhero Movie
Let’s list all the good superhero movies:
- Batman Begins
- The Avengers
- Captain America: Civil War
- X-Men: First Class
Now let’s list all of the bad superhero movies:
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Batman vs Superman
- Spiderman 3 (2007)
- 90% of the Wolverine movies
- Thor: Dark World
What does the first list do that the second list doesn’t? The biggest difference maker, I think, is how the former list focuses on the character instead of the story. It’s obvious when a movie is a cash-cow project; the story is lazy and it’s about saving the world/city/girl. The best superhero movies either show us our heroes at their best, or a different side of them.
The highly personal experiences of Bruce Wayne and how they compelled him to become Batman is interesting. Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman fighting a CGI monster is not. Seeing how Captain America and Iron Man can become antagonists to one another is interesting. Watching Thor fight some evil dark fairies is not. The Good vs Evil story is boring because the real world isn’t like that. Everyone has their own reasons for thinking they’re the good guys. Everyone messes up. Everyone has multi-dimensional goals and reasons for wanting what they want.
Spiderman: Homecoming belongs in the first list. We have a Peter Parker who is eager to make good on his promise after Uncle Ben’s death, but he is still just a young kid, and clearly not ready to become the hero he needs to be yet. We follow Parker for two hours, watching him grow and mature, finally earning the right to the mask. At the same time, we are watching him get through high school and growing as a regular teenager as well. It is this interesting and personal side of Peter Parker that all Spiderman movies have lacked up til now. Why does he fight? It’s not just to save New York or to get the girl. There’s more to it than that, and the film presents it in an honest, funny, and down-to-earth way.
Watch it! Watch it now in theatres before it’s too late! And when it comes out on home video, get it on blu-ray so you can watch it again! There is much to be optimistic lately with superhero movies, and Spiderman is leading the pack. And now we wait for the sequel (July 2019… *sad face*).
This has been a gamobo review. Thanks for reading.