Movie Marathon Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Synopsis: After fighting Captain America alongside team Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, teenager Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is confronted with the mundaneness of his life outside of being a part-time superhero. Determined to prove his worth to mentor/idol Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Peter finds himself both causing more problems and solving mysteries on his quest to become the newest Avenger.

Breakdown: Watching this film in not only the context of the larger narrative that the MCU is telling but also in the context of the legacy of the Spider-Man character on film offers a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, this is the most fully-realized version of both the Peter Parker character as well as his super heroic alter ego Spider-Man. On the other hand, a lot of the pluckiness and intelligence that is key to the character of Peter Parker is missing, as he is constantly playing in other heroes sandboxes in his solo-MCU films.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is just that – a celebration of the fact that Spider-Man is finally home and is now able to play with his super hero friends in the MCU thanks to a groundbreaking and sometimes tumultuous deal between Sony and Marvel. Whatever magic occurred to make this deal a reality not once but twice is the true hero of this story.

The cast is absolutely pitch perfect in this film. After watching five movies of Peter Parker and friends getting into and out of different situations, this cast feels like a return to basics and a breath of fresh air. Yes, a lot of the key elements of Peter’s story is relegated to happening off screen, such as the death of Uncle Ben and the iconic radioactive spider bite that gave Peter his powers. Also gone is Peter’s best friend, Harry, who after two franchises trying to tell his story is getting a well-deserved break. In his place is Ned (Jacob Batalon), whose chemistry with Tom Holland’s Peter is so well done and so believable.

A lot of credit has to go to Tom Holland, who is by far my favorite version of Spider-Man on film. He nails both aspects of the character so well, expertly switching between nerdy teen to out of his element kid pretending to be a hero. The most important thing, though, and what makes him my favorite out of the three actors who have played the role on film thus far, is that he just seems to be having so much fun being both characters. Andrew Garfield was too cool for Peter Parker but showcased the fun of being Spider-Man well; Tobey Maguire was too burdened and morose as Spider-Man but did a good job portraying the awkwardness and go-get-em-ness of Peter; but Holland does an excellent job with both characters. And make no mistake, they are distinct characters.

Zendaya and Marisa Tomei both bring something new to MJ and Aunt May, respectively, and though they are not given a lot to do in this movie, they nicely set up their characters for future installments. The always dependable Robert Downey Jr should just be phoning in his Tony Stark/Iron Man now and cashing the pay checks, but he still seems to be having genuine fun and lends the movie a little more credibility and connective tissue to the larger story at play.

The best part of the cast, however, has to go to Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture. It’s no secret I’m a huge super hero fan and Batman is my favorite hero of all time, so seeing Michael Keaton return to the world of superheroes to play a villain and crush it was an absolute treat. The plot twist that happens in the third act of the film and the way it is handled is nothing short of brilliant – and there is no action involved at all. Just superb writing, filming, and acting.

The ties to the larger MCU story are what sets this film apart and also what drags it down a bit. It is nice to see some of the fallout of the Avengers saving the day in The Avengers, but so much time is dedicated to how Spider-Man fits into this larger world that we don’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked just watching Peter be a kid and try to be a hero at the same time.

Verdict: After five movies exploring Peter Parker and Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Homecoming was a breath of fresh air. It smartly sidelined the overplayed yet critical story beats and focused on just how fun, and dangerous, being a superhero can be. It is quirky, self-assured and not so self-serious, and is just a joy to watch. It does feel a little restrained by tying Spider-Man into the larger MCU playing field, but is an excellent re-introduction to one of the most beloved characters of all time.

**This movie review is part of a series of reviews, where we are watching one Spider-Man movie a week leading up to the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home. You can read more about this review series here.

To see the other reviews, click the links below (we’ll update this list each week as we release new reviews):

Mark Pereira is a senior writer for Boss Rush Network. He loves all video games, but his top three favorites are Skyward SwordSuper Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can find him on Twitter where he’s usually talking about Nintendo, video games, movies, and TV shows.

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