It’s been 15 years since Sam Raimi’s original swung into cinemas (feel old yet?) and in that time we’ve had 5 solo movies (the last 2 being a rebooted series) and one impressive cameo in Captain America: Civil War. If any series should be running on fumes it should be this one, but those crafty fellas at Marvel Studios have somehow pulled out the freshest feeling spider-movie yet with a fun, touching and hugely funny film that easily matches the best in the series.
The secret is essentially dumping all the stuff that audiences already know and forging ahead intelligently and shrewdly into new territory.
All that spider bite and Uncle Ben stuff? We’ve seen it twice already so we skip it. It’s already happened. Peter is usually out of high school by the end of his first movies, not here. Peter Parker has always worked best on film as the boy king in waiting. A superhero in training. Homecoming ups that theme by ACTUALLY having him in training with Tony Stark (RDJ thankfully kept to a strict extended non-scene stealing cameo) and his driver Happy Hogan (John Favreau in top deadpan form) keeping him under close scrutiny.
There’s no mention of any Osborn, Harry or Norman and Aunt May doesn’t stop the film with a tedious life lesson (she’s actually much more helpful, like teaching him how to tie a tie for prom). There’s also no Gwen or MJ, choosing lesser known Parker squeeze Liz Allen over his other overused girlfriends.
So far it’s not sounding very Spider-Man, is it?
Well diving headlong into lesser known comics lore the film makers have mined some seriously smart choices. Peter’s new Stark built Spider-suit is literally packed to the Web-shooters with gadgets (something the current run of comics deal with) and provide the bulk of the film’s physical humor. Peter’s friend “Ned” (actually Ganke, best pals with Miles Morales) is another welcome addition, someone for Pete to bounce off as he travels on his journey to become the greatest hero there is.
Keeping the action “Street level” keeps the movie’s feet figuratively on the ground, Michael Keaton’s blue collar tech thief (aka the Vulture) isn’t trying to rule the world, he’s only trying to make a buck after being put out of business. Not everything is about stopping an alien invasion.
The tone is spot on. John Hughes teen movie for the drama, Robert Zemekis style action when the pace picks up (a desperate scramble up the Washington Monument in order to grab an explosive device from going off is utterly fantastic) and young director Jon Watts pulls it all off fabulously and he also packs the film with cameos and easter eggs which will require numerous viewings to nail but don’t overwhelm.
But undoubtedly the movie’s MVP is Tom Holland as old Spidey himself. He’s actually perfect, nailing the Queens accent and pumping out a nervous, hyperactive energy that echos Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future, he centres the whole film being nerdy and appealing enough to make the best Peter Parker but also has enough of a presence so he doesn’t get swallowed up by the costume.
Best Spider-Man yet? I think so.
Best Spider-Man movie yet. Very nearly.
Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 is more operatic but Homecoming matches it in quirkiness and freshness.
After years of drilling this franchise into the ground, Sony really need to be applauded for sucking up their pride and going to Marvel for help. It’s this that could be the greatest Marvel Team-Up in history.