Finally. After years of waiting and two subpar films that were shameless cash-grabs from Sony, Spider-Man is back with the film he deserves in Spider-Man: Homecoming. My personal favorite superhero, Spider-Man has long had a special place in my heart. Spider-Man 2 is actually one of my more treasured films of the early 2000s. One of the reasons I loved that film was because it featured a fallen hero as its villain. I am a major sucker for this ploy in superhero movies (of course The Dark Knight did this best with the fall of Harvey Dent) and I am delighted to see it again here. A superhero film is only as good as its villain, and finally we get a good one here.
When was the last time we had a good villain in a Marvel film? I’d argue you’d have to look allllllll the way back to Loki in the original Avengers film for a truly good villain. But finally, we have another. Thank you, Michael Keaton. Were it not for a terrific performance from Tom Holland as Peter Parker himself, I’d say Keaton stole the show.
But move over, Tobey Maguire. There’s a new Spidey in town. Holland’s rendition of Parker is easily the best rendition I have seen of the character, and he quickly cements himself in the MCU here. Kudos to Marvel’s crew for the fantastic casting. Outside of Holland and Keaton, we have a great performance from Jacob Batalon as Parker’s best friend, Ned. Here’s another great casting decision from the Marvel crew. Before Spider-Man, Batalon had a single film credit to his name and it was for a small budget horror movie. But I absolutely loved him, as well as Zendaya as Michelle. Seriously, the casting crew for Marvel deserves a raise for their job selecting the young actors in this film.
The other star of this show is its story. Homecoming is a great coming-of-age film that would easily stand up to any of the many other coming-of-age films we get every year. Holland and Robert Downey Jr. are great together, and RDJ goes through as much of a good story arc as he takes on the role of a father figure as Holland does learning the classic Spider-Man life lesson (tell ’em, Uncle Ben). There are several good story arcs in this film, including with the Vulture. Even Zendaya’s Michelle has a good arc here. I really have to give a lot of credit to Jonathan Goldstein and company for doing a great job here.
That said, it’s never good when the weakest part of an action movie is the action sequences, but unfortunately that is the case here. While overall the set-pieces are fine, I really did not care for the big battle sequence on the plane towards the end of the film. In this sequence the film flirts with “Spider-Man vs. Electro” levels of terrible as it was bitterly obvious that everything onscreen in front of us was fake. Unfortunately, this really detracts from the film, as it is meant to be the climax of the movie.
Also, please stop objectifying Marisa Tomei. She’s a terrific actress and did a great job in her extremely limited role as Aunt May, but it seemed like the film spent more time remarking on how hot she is versus actually letting her be Parker’s mother figure. She does get a great moment at the very end, though. Also, do yourself a favor and stay until the very end of the credits, because there is a gem of a post-credit scene waiting for you.
Ultimately, this is the Spider-Man film we needed and, were it not for a lackluster final action set piece, we might have been looking at a film as good as Baby Driver. As it is, however, we do have ourselves possibly the best Marvel film to date, and certainly the second-best film of 2017.