You know what, for the past couple of months, I’ve felt some serious superhero fatigue. While Logan (2017) is a notable exception, I just kinda felt like I was done with the whole thing. Marvel films were feeling repetitive and formulaic, despite their lofty ambition and epic scale, while DC continued to flounder around in the dirt, trying desperately to get on its feet. That’s not to say I hated superhero films – far from it – but I could just feel my enjoyment ebbing away, just like it did with the living dead many years before.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m a complete and total idiot. The superhero genre has so much more to offer – first with Wonder Woman (2017) and now with Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Whatever it is they got right, they got it right in spades – proving, quite effectively, that there is still plenty of life in this flogged horse.
Directed by Jon Watts (nope, I hadn’t heard of him either), Spider-Man: Homecoming is the result of years of speculation and shady business deals between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios. With Sony seemingly unable to create a successful Spiderman franchise, and Marvel’s consistently successful cinematic universe, it was only a matter of time before something had to give – and, way back in 2015, it was announced that Spider-Man will be web-slinging his way into the greater Marvel cinematic universe – first revealing the character to great fan response in Captain America: Civil War (2016).
So here we are. Peter Parker’s first solo film in the greater MCU – and how is it? In a word?
Opening in 2012, during the aftermath of the Battle of New York, as shown in Avengers Assemble (2012), a salvage company led by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is thrown into disarray after their salvage contract is superseded by a Stark-sponsored federal agency known as the US Department of Damage Control (DODC). Embittered by his losses, Toomes opts to keep his salvaged materials for his own benefit.
Flash forward to the present day, where we meet 15 year old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) going about his ordinary routine. When I say ordinary routine, I mean it. Public transport, headphones, gentle harassment and staring longingly across the hall at a senior girl are all woven into Peter Parker’s daily life. The only difference? After school, Peter takes on his role as Spider-Man – stopping bike thieves, providing directions for old ladies and occasionally stopping the odd street tough. He does so under the cover of a “Stark Internship” – much to his classmate’s envy.
The only trouble is, wielding his Stark-designed high tech suit, Peter can’t help but feel he could be doing something more useful. Unfortunately, his telephone messages go unanswered by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his handler, Harold “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau). Frustrated by his lack of support, Peter begins to take greater and greater risks to try and prove himself, going so far as to attempt to stop an ATM robbery – only to be confronted by some impressively jury rigged alien tech, wielded by the dirty crims under the employ of Adrian Toomes.
His reports ignored, Peter sets out to investigate the shady arms business alone, taking him deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld while attempting to master his powers.
But that isn’t all – see, what Spider-Man: Homecoming does so well is that it absolutely runs with the double life set up. Not only is Spider-Man digging deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld of New York City, but Peter Parker is fighting some pretty serious battles himself. Notably, can he gain the interest and pluck up the courage to speak to Liz Allan (Laura Harrier), a senior girl at Peter’s school in the shadow of the upcoming homecoming dance?
Throw in some wonderfully John Hughes-esque characters and a setting that would work just as well as a coming-of-age film as much as a superhero one, and you’re beginning to come close to the tone and story of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Full of humour, one liners and visual references (that genuinely had people in the cinema – me included – laughing out loud), Spider-Man: Homecoming really hit a home run for me.
Obviously I don’t want to spoil anything, but some of the twists and turns the story takes genuinely took me by surprise. As did the character development and arc for many of the characters – not only were they fun, they were all equally fleshed out and told with real depth. Even Ned (Jacob Batalon), the appointed comic-relief and sidekick of Peter’s, felt like a real character who finally succeeded in achieving his dream of being the chair-guy. Trust me, it makes sense in context.
Most impressively, for once the action in a movie such as this actually left me feeling like I wanted more. There is so much going on, and yet you are able to follow every moment of it. It also helps that you feel just as much for the villains as you do the heroes, really helping you feel invested in the fight and action scenes – a far cry from the nameless minion battle scenes of other such characters in this ever-growing franchise.
In summary, then: Spider-Man: Homecoming is more than worth seeing. It has genuinely overtaken Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) as my favourite Marvel film, and has – for the first time in a long time – made me excited about going back and watching a follow up. With great humour, incredible characters and a film that manages to surprise an audience already jaded by multiple character reboots, you really can’t go far wrong here.
Go and watch it!
Yours, A P Tyler
PS. Oh, and a quick note to say Michael Giachino’s rendition of the classic Spider-Man theme is a work of art. You can take a listen below!