Preluded by a memorable introduction in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming reboots the Spider-Man franchise (yet again) with the spritely, enthusiastic, and immensely likeable Tom Holland as the titular teenage web-slinger. Back in school after a whirlwind battle with the Avengers, Peter Parker can’t wait to rejoin the all-star superhero team, but he’s forced to lay low as per the orders of an unexpectedly fatherly Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Unfortunately, the fallout from another Avengers caper (Age of Ultron) brings a new type of criminal to New York: the Vulture (Michael Keaton). Our juvenile protagonist must learn to balance high-school life and love with his secret role as a masked, neighbourhood crime-fighter. Rounding out the cast, Marisa Tomei plays Peter’s loving guardian, Aunt May; Jacob Batalon is Peter’s best friend and sidekick, Ned; and Jon Favreau returns as Tony Stark’s weary and tightly wound head of security, Harold “Happy” Hogan.
More than anything else, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an entertaining film that really leans into the youth, energy, and innocence of its protagonist, played with such verve by Holland. From the get-go, a rather ingenious re-introduction of Spider-Man’s venture with the Avengers is shot from a hand-held camera because of course a tech-savvy teen like Peter Parker would have been recording every minute of it on his phone, nearly incoherent with excitement and wonder at meeting Tony Stark and the rest of the Avengers. Holland’s exuberance is infectious and endearing but is also sustained throughout the film without becoming tiresome.
Aside from the shining beacon that is Holland, the rest of the movie is also excellent from scene to scene. The story is focused and propulsive, and the villain is well written and excellently portrayed by the Birdman himself: Keaton is perfectly menacing, walking a thin line between grounded and unhinged in his quest to take back power and protect his family from a chaotic world where supers and aliens exist. RDJ, in the mere minutes that he is on-screen, adds the perfect amount of chemistry, star power, and big-picture scope without being heavy-handed or inorganic (which is why they pay him the big bucks). Yet, the story scope is still small enough (taking a page from the localised Marvel-Netflix shows), as Peter Parker still has yet to learn the responsibility inherent in his powers, taking the necessary baby steps in his heroic maturity arc.
As inevitable as Peter Parker’s story is, there is still one or two twists and turns in the film’s plot to keep viewers guessing and maybe even astonished (there certainly was a lot of gasping in the audience when I watched it on opening night). Love interests are re-written and (spoiler!) one very welcome cameo by Donald Glover hints at an exciting future possibility. Spider-Man’s role in the next MCU installment is sure to be a highly anticipated one!
Ratings (out of 5):
Overall Average: 4.1