(WARNING: There are minor and major spoilers about Spider-man: Homecoming in this blog post!)
Spider-man is one of my favorite superheroes. My appreciation for Marvel movies formed between 2006 and 2007. X-men and Spider-man were my official introduction to Marvel universe. Marvel Studios gave licensing film rights of Spider-man to Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures, in early 2000s. But Spider-man was not technically part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) until Captain America: Civil War in 2016. Spider-man: Homecoming is the first collaboration between Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures. Sony Pictures will still own, finance, distribute, and exercise creative control over Spider-man films. Yet, Marvel Studios now has opportunity to include other characters from MCU in upcoming Spider-man films. In fact, Marvel had been wanting to add Spider-man’s character to the MCU since 2014.
Three is the magical number for Marvel trilogies. So the new reboot of the Spider-man movie franchise will have a total of three films. Plus, Spider-man will likely make cameo appearances in future MCU films.
Around the time I discovered Spider-man franchise, Tobey Maguire was the actor portraying Peter Parker/Spider-man. I remember the exact date too. May 13, 2007. I decided to watch Spider-man 3 on random whim on Mother’s Day. Nine days after its theatrical release. Despite missing many references about previous films, I understood it enough to form an appreciation for the character of Spider-man. It wasn’t until watching Spider-man and Spider-man 2 that I truly formed a bias for this character. Peter Parker is one of the most relatable characters in Marvel universe. Unfortunately, Spider-man 3 was overall poorly reviews by critics and fans in general. But I refuse to let disgruntled critics and fans influence how I feel about a film. I’ll form my own opinion even it goes against what majority says about it. I’m part of the very small minority who actually enjoyed Spider-3. As a whole, it was a good sequel even with its considerably darker cinematic tone.
I cannot tolerate the second reboot of Spider-man movie franchise. Andrew Garfield is a good actor, but I don’t feel he did this role justice. I legit struggled to get through The Amazing Spider-man movies. The casting for the main cast in this reboot was the main reason I was unable to connect with it. It didn’t feel right to me. I don’t like to acknowledge the existence of this second reboot. That’s all I’ll say about The Amazing Spider-man reboot.
With each reboot, the character of Peter Parker gets younger and younger. From latter high school/early college age to early high school age. This made me a bit skeptical.
Marvel Studios announced yet another reboot of Spider-man franchise in February 2015. The third reboot. As the phrase goes, third time is a charm. Tom Holland was cast as the new Peter Parker. Honestly, I was skeptical. Tobey Maguire will always be MY Spider-man. He really did justice to this role. Yet, I was going to be open-minded and wait until official trailers for Spider-man: Homecoming came out. Tom Holland technically already made his first appearance as Spider-man in Captain America: Civil War. I was intrigued but not entirely sure how I felt about his portrayal of Peter Parker yet. The new redesigned Spider-man suit hadn’t grown on me yet. Only time would tell if I was actually going to check out Spider-man: Homecoming in theaters.
On various marketing platforms, Marvel starts heavily promoting its films one to two months before its release date. You’ll see plenty of TV trailer spots played during primetime hours on TV channels. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming at times. I don’t recall seeing too many Spider-man: Homecoming TV trailer spots.
On June 5th, my friend, Alyssa, texted me to inquire if I wanted to join her seeing the movie on opening day. I was still on the fence about Tom Holland. She wanted to see IMAX 3D format which is almost $15 with taxes. Luckily, I had a AMC Theatre gift card so it would be basically free. So why not? Plus, IMAX 3D format has clearer image and sound quality. I was game. I was going to approach this Spider-man reboot with an open-mind.
To date, I have seen Spider-man: Homecoming twice in theaters in IMAX 3D format. That is how much I’ve enjoyed it. Sony Pictures decided to do away with incorporating the origin story of Peter Parker. It assumes the audience knows he was bitten by a radioactive spider which gave his extraordinary abilities. Also, it doesn’t drudge up Peter’s painful past of losing his Uncle Ben. This reboot features the younger version of Aunt May. Spider-man: Homecoming is a breath of fresh air for this beloved superhero franchise!
The movie picks up two months after Captain America: Civil War events. Peter is very optimistic that Tony will keep in him in the fold about any upcoming Avenger missions. No updates. Tony Stark even tells Peter he isn’t ready to become a full Avenger yet. So, he resumes his “normal” life. He quit almost all his extra-curriculum clubs to focus on being Queen’s friendly neighborhood Spider-man. Peter Parker struggles to find a balance between being the friendly neighborhood Spider-man and a “normal” high school student at Midtown School of Science and Technology.
Tony Stark makes many cameos throughout Spider-man: Homecoming. He personally recruited Peter Parker to join him to fight in Captain America: Civil War. Afterwards, Tony continues to maintain a mentor/mentee relationship with young Peter. Tony Stark is a father figure in a way to Peter as well.
Being a mentor and father figure, this is very unfamiliar territory. Peter decides to play in the big leagues by fighting against dangerous criminals. Tony soon realizes Peter needs some guidance and direction as he grows into his role as a superhero. On some occasions, he must harshly reprimand Peter for his reckless behavior. Peter is a young kid who is still growing into his new powers. The Staten Island Ferry situation was the last straw for Tony. He takes the Spider-man suit back. If Peter is nothing without it then he shouldn’t have the multi-million dollar suit at all. Tony wants to reinforce “with great powers come great responsibility” philosophy. In the Iron Man movies, Tony himself struggled with the conundrum of whether the suit makes the man or the man makes the suit. Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr. brilliantly portrayed the dynamic relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark.
Vulture is the featured villain in the film. It was initially hard to gauge this character based off the official trailers and TV spots. I was worried Vulture being a predictable villain. Wow how wrong I was. In a flashback scene, the opening scene establishes the backstory for Adrian Toomes aka Vulture. Adrian and his salvage crew were contracted to clean up the mess Loki and his Chitauri army wrecked on New York City in The Avengers. Tony Stark’s Department of Damage Control (DODC) take over the operations ultimately putting Toomes out business. He refused to hand over one small loot of Chitauri wreckage. A lightbulb went off. Adrian could continue business by making advanced weaponry using the Chitauri parts. Eight years later, Adrian and his crew become successful black market arms dealers in high-tech weapons to the highest bidder. They formed a profitable niche market. Vulture is multi-faceted character. Everything he does is to take care of his wife and daughter. Plus, he is tired of how rich people don’t care about the well-being of the “little people”. So, Adrian decided to turn the tables. Vulture isn’t a typical MCU villain.
I had no idea how Spider-man would come across the Vulture and his crew. This aspect of plot was fleshed out in different stages. It kept the audience on their toes. I totally wasn’t expecting the plot twist of Adrian Toomes being Liz’s father. Peter is put in a tricky situation. He has opportunity take his love interest, Liz, to the Homecoming dance. Yet, he cannot ignore how Vulture and his crew dangerous weapons are a danger to society. Peter ditches the Homecoming dance to ensure Vulture doesn’t get his hands on any weapons being transported on DODC carrier in route to new Avengers headquarters in upstate New York. Spider-man and Vulture engage in intense fighting sequences on the DODC carrier and on a beach near Coney Island. Peter Parker must combat his enemy in his homemade Spider-man costume. This puts him a slight disadvantage. Despite being battered and bruised, Peter keeps going until he has defeated the Vulture. No matter his feelings about Adrian’s criminal behavior, Peter makes sure Liz’s father is still alive in the end even when his flying apparatus becomes unstable and explodes. Spider-man: Homecoming beautifully explores the complex nature of humanity in the relationship between Spider-man and Vulture.
Within the first hour, you learn more about Peter Parker and the environment of Midtown Science and Technology. This is no ordinary high school. Nope. Only very smart students attend this high school. It’s quite evident Peter Parker isn’t a social butterfly at his high school. He mainly hangs out with his best friend, Ned. Occasionally, Peter interacts with members of his school’s academic decathlon. He mostly keeps to himself. There are only two people he is very close with. Aunt May and Ned.
Spider-man: Homecoming explores the theme of Peter learning the struggles of being a teenage superhero. No adult will take him seriously including his mentor, Tony Stark, and Happy Hogan. Let alone give him opportunity to take on a bigger role to fulfill his superhero destiny. Tony Stark even included “training wheel protocol” code to prevent Peter from having access to his suit’s advanced features. Peter expresses his frustration on being treated like a kid often throughout the film. Yet, Peter’s foreshadowed warnings is only seriously considered after Hogan realizes the DODC transport carrier is in imminent danger. At least Peter had his trusty best friend, Ned, by his side.
From start to finish, Michelle aka MJ played by Zendaya has a very low-key role in the movie’s plot. This character occasionally appears in some scenes saying no more than a few lines. Yet, her dialogue usually provided moments of unintentional comedy. Spider-man: Homecoming wanted to downplay Michelle’s role in the first movie of the Spider-man reboot. I’m curious how they’ll develop the romantic relationship between Peter and Michelle in the sequels. Now they’re mere acquaintances who happen to be in similar social circles.
Compared to previous Spider-man films, the third reboot took a different approach to Eugene “Flash” Thompson’s character. Flash, the star high school football player, mercilessly bullies Peter Parker. Flash Thompson is a physically abusive bully in the previous two Spider-man reboots. Spider-man: Homecoming depicts this characters more as an emotionally abusive bully. The verbal bullying consists of relentlessly cruel taunts. The new reboot didn’t want to copy some elements of the previous Spider-man movie franchises.
Being part of MCU, we saw some familiar faces. Tony Stark, Aunt May, Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts. But I loved how the many of the major and minor characters were unfamiliar faces in the MCU. I’m sure Ned and Michelle will be playing larger roles in the sequels. Plus, the cast ensemble was diverse. It’s hard to find diversity in superhero genre films.
Spider-man: Homecoming struck a good balance of light-hearted, comedic, and serious tones in the dialogue amongst the characters. I really enjoyed the exchanges between Peter Parker and Karen, the artificial intelligence in Spider-man’s suit. Most Marvel Cinematic Universe movies tend to be slightly more serious in tone with small injections of dark humor. That’s why the new Spider-man reboot is a breath of fresh air for MCU. The light-hearted and comedic moments didn’t feel forced or awkward at all.
Most of all, Tom Holland vastly impressed me with his portrayal of Peter Parker/Spider-man. After his cameo in Captain America: Civil War, I was still skeptical about the Spider-man reboot. He definitely won me over in Spider-man: Homecoming. I will always love Tobey Maguire. Yet, Tom Holland brilliantly portrays the aspects of Peter Parker and Spider-man. His facial expressions beautifully conveyed emotion even when there was no dialogue in the scene. Plus, he had great chemistry with the cast ensemble. This made the on-screen interactions more believable too. Overall, he did justice to this iconic role.
I look forward the upcoming Spider-man reboot sequels. Plus, Peter Parker/Spider-man will be featured in three other MCU films including Avengers: Infinity Wars. Spanning many generations, Spider-man continues to capture the hearts of audiences.
I’ll leave you with the hilariously awesome Lip Sync Battle between Tom Holland and Zendaya. Once you’ve seen it, it cannot be unseen. This actually made me appreciate Tom Holland even more.