Spider-Man: Homecoming review – The superior Peter Parker

Spider-Man: Homecoming knows the secret of rebooting this well-known series – you don’t need to show Uncle Ben being killed again. Shrugging off the baggage of the past films, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a very fun re-introduction into the Spider-Man universe, now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). With great cast chemistry and the best Peter Parker on film, this is a movie worth watching.

Starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Homecoming continues after the events of Captain America: Civil War. On a high after being part of the superhero battle, the teenager hopes to impress Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) into bringing him officially into the Avengers, while still balancing high school life. Like any Spider-Man, that’s going to be a problem.

JOHN WATTS, MEET JOHN HUGHES

With Peter is his amazing and very cool supporting cast, all characters straight out from the comics. Together they form the high school’s science decathlon team – which is a great nod to Peter’s geekdom. The cast bring colour to Peter’s life, from best friend (and computer expert) Ned (Jacob Batalon) to the new and improved Flash (Tony Revolori). Forget the jock, this Flash bullies Peter because he hates Peter for being more brilliant than he is – something I’m sure a few geeks can identify with. Liz (Laura Harrier) is captain of the team and Peter’s crush, so there won’t be any of the MJ / Gwen Stacy love story, despite the school mascot being a tiger. Zendaya plays the acerbic Michelle, and Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) appears quite a bit on those high school TVs.

(left to right) Betty Brant, Flash, Liz, Ned, Michelle and Peter.

It’s a youthful cast with a a strong John Hughes vibe. After all, another John – director John Watts – clearly mixes in a bit of The Breakfast Club and a HUGE chunk of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Here is where the movie works best, with the tension between Peter’s real life and superhero schemes playing a key part. 

But it’s not a superhero movie without a supervillain, and here it’s Adrian Toomes aka the Vulture (Micheal Keaton). The movie leans away from some of the Vulture’s weirder backstory – here he’s a scavenger of Chitauri artifacts after the destruction of New York. Robbed from this job by a government agency, the Vulture squirrels away some and turns to a life of crime against the 1%. Keaton is great in the role, obviously at home in a costume. He’s the most engaging Spider-movie villain since Doctor Octopus, and I’m hoping he sticks around.

The appearance of this character will be a Shocker.

It’s not an MCU movie without some cameos, and Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as Parker’s (often absent) mentor. Thankfully Iron Man doesn’t overstay his welcome – unlike the trailer, this is really Spidey’s movie. And on top of the cameos, there’s a ton of fun nods to other Spider-Man characters, whether they’re going to be featured in the sequel, or names you might not place next to their alter-egos from the comics. If you’re a comic fan, you’ll have a lot of fun spotting this as well as the other Easter eggs. Oh, and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is back.

So while we have all the superhero hijinks, this movie is really about Peter Parker. The Peter moments are the best parts of the movie, and through, Holland’s acting, and a quippy, funny script, you get drawn into the character of Peter. That helped me root for Peter when he had to go up against the Vulture, since the action scenes can be muddled at times. The action is still fun, with some creative moments, but without the man inside the suit, it wouldn’t have hit home as much.

PURE COMIC-BOOK PETER

This is the Peter Parker that represents the best of us, growing to discover the meaning of Uncle Ben’s catchphrase (without having to have it repeated). It is a pure, comic-book Peter, eager to help and to impress, yet caught up with doing cool things to impress others. He is the science nerd that didn’t only have his intellect to defend himself,the ideal for those hoping to escape a life defined solely by nerdhood. In that sense, he is a different Peter than Tobey Maguire’s only-too-human portrayal and Andrew Garfield’s earnest all-achiever, but it’s a Peter that works very, very well.

Spider-Man: Homecoming lives up to its title – after all, this is the first full feature film after Spidey rejoins the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it’s also about that homecoming dance where Peter has to decide between his dreams. And it’s also a little about us coming back home again to a Peter Parker we have held in our hearts. There’s a lot of heart and warmth in this movie, but you’re not going to be crying buckets or jumping up and down in your seats. In fact, it’s all a little bit low-key, more ground-level than some of the epic movies we’ve had in the MCU.

It doesn’t try to tell a larger story, or ram some moral home – but as an honest portrayal of what Peter Parker’s life would have been like, it hits all the right spots. I look forward to the next instalment, where hopefully the supporting cast follows along and we get more of this Peter Parker. Sure, it’s fun to have Spidey be part of the larger MCU, but I think for the Spider-Man movies, it’ll be good to see Peter stand on his own two feet.

And yes, stay for the credits – one scene hints at what is to come for Spidey, another features a lovely way to cap all those end-credit stingers. Pun intended.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is now open in cinemas.

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