By Jason Abdow
When it comes to reboots, I usually feel that I usually am not always too passionate about the source material. I was not alive when movies like “Planet of the Apes,” or “Superman” came out so I was not holding those to any previous standards. But Spider-Man is different because not only do remember the last rebooted films from just a few years ago, but I clearly remember watching the original trilogy too. So “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was in a tough place, as it needed to distinguish itself from those other movies.
First, I will say that if “Spider-Man: Homecoming” did anything right, it was definitely pulling itself away from both of the other “Spider-Man” series. We do not go through the Uncle Ben stuff, we do not see Peter get bit by the spider, we just start out with a normal, high school Spider-Man and follow him from there.
The movie picks up a couple months after “Captain America: Civil War” and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is in a weird position where he is not an Avenger, yet is still waiting for a call from them for another mission. To prove himself, he goes around the neighborhood stopping small crimes, helping people directions, just being your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. This is until actual bad stuff begins to happen and mysterious weapons are starting to circulate around the area and the winged villain The Vulture begins to appear.
I think the fact that they made Spider-Man more of this “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” was what made me like his character more. It definitely humbled the character and made him feel less like a superhero and more of a kid trying to be one, which should be the goal of any first film in a series. This is also the best representation of Peter Parker as a high school kid that we have ever gotten on the silver screen.
At this movie’s heart, it is a high school movie and it stays true to that, showing Peter goes through all the awkward parts of growing up while also trying to manage being a superhero. And Tom Holland is able to portray both these sides of Peter Parker excellently. His clever wit and great comedic delivery makes him an incredibly likable lead, even when he makes dumb decisions like all high schoolers do. He will definitely make for a great addition to the already amazing Avengers lineup.
Many of the classmates that Peter interacts with are also memorable. Jacob Batalon who plays Peter’s nerdy friend Ned is hilarious as the comedic side character and does not get annoying as fast as he could have. Zendaya who plays the social outcast Michelle also is able to bring some additional comedy to her role, even if I feel that her character is mostly there to be set up for future films. And Tony Revolori who plays Flash, Peter’s bully, is handled uniquely compared to the first two series. Instead of making him a jock, he is another kid on Peter’s academic decathlon who is jealous of his intelligence.
The person I was most impressed with, however, was Michael Keaton as The Vulture. Obviously, I think Keaton is an incredible actor so whether or not he could pull this off was not the question. The thing I was most concerned about was that the character would be underwritten, as they are in many Marvel movies. But this is not the case for The Vulture, as the very first scene in the movie is revolved around him and his struggle. They make him incredibly empathetic, as a working class man who is struggling to get by and needs to help him and his fellow workers. It is a surprisingly timely message making the struggle real. And Keaton shows a level of intensity, while still remaining likable and charismatic.
As for things this film could have improved on, there is a twist with Zendaya’s character that I, personally, was not crazy about. Also, I felt there should have been at least somewhat of a reference to Uncle Ben. Obviously I am glad they did not recreate the whole situation but just a verbal reference might have brought a little more depth to Peter Parker, who is ultimately a much lighter character, even for Marvel’s standards. And maybe it was my disappointment that Donald Glover did not get to be Miles Morales, but his character I felt should have been a little bigger, but that’s more of a personal issue I had.
Besides those nitpicks, this is an incredibly enjoyable summer film and one that fans of superhero movies and the original Spider-Man movies can still love. It is incredibly likable and while not the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, definitely one of the most unique. If you have not seen it yet, definitely check it out, this is the perfect movie for summer.