And so, finally, swinging his way into cinemas once again is your favourite neighbourhood you know what. Fresh from his brief but memorable cameo in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, and his blue-and-red spandex-ed alter-ego have their own solo adventure as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But with two iterations of the character already brought to the big screen in the last fifteen years, is Spider-Man truly ready for his Homecoming?
The first and perhaps smartest thing about Spider-Man 3.0 is the lack of origin story – we know the story, we know the beginning, we know about crazy science so immediately we are in a different scenario, and a different time, that is to say, the land of the sophomore. After the event of Civil War, brilliant surmised in an opening salvo that is one of the films many hilarious moments, Peter (Holland) has been placed back into the world by Tony Stark (Downey Jr) to continue his friendly quest to help clean up the streets of Queens. But the impact of “New York” still looms large despite the years passing and Adrian Toomes (Keaton) seeks vengeance against both Stark and his friends – let’s get nuts indeed.
There are many highlights to be had from Homecoming and much of the credit should go to director Jon Watts for delivering on his “If John Hughes made a superhero movie” motifs as this could be considered as one of the best teen movies in many years. Right down to the detention collectives and literally giving Ferris Buller a run for its money, this Spider-Man is an 80’s gem with a light coating of 21st-century socials. The action (oh the action), is just as terrific and the director’s work on the little underseen but superb indie gem Cop Car has helped – it’s energy and exuberance is breathless at times and some of the set-pieces, even those glimpsed in the trailers, are beautifully constructed and rendered.
But all the technical wizardry in the world can only go so far until the actors take it to the next level, which many of them do particularly Holland who is superb – echoes of a young Michael J. Fox are prominent throughout and his natural youthful qualities shine through as cinema’s greatest Peter Parker and Spider-Man are unveiled before your eyes. Kudos too to Jacob Batalon as best friend Ned, who quite frankly deserves his own detective series, beautifully balances their friendship with a live-wire performance.
The rest, whether it’s Zendaya’s rebellious Michelle or Tony Revolori as Flash add texture but aren’t entirely successful. And then there’s Keaton, who brings evil – true evil – in feel and look but in context, his villain, as so many, feels very paint by numbers and is the weak link despite his best efforts. Oh and Downey Jnr/Stark is Downey Jnr/Stark – cool, calm, calculated, used when absolutely necessary.
It’s colourful, infectious, and playful nature is what truly sells Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as it’s ace superhero-ness, and it’s a triumph for everyone involved, not least director Watts (who must return) and Holland, who truly earns the moniker of spectacular. Finally, the work of Sam Raimi and co have a worthy opponent/successor to the webbed crown.