***This review may contain spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming***
The superhero genre is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance era. Franchise after franchise is being rebooted, remade and re-released for the viewing pleasure of the masses. It’s for this reason that a good Spider-Man remake was long overdue. Step in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
This is the third time now that the Spider-Man story has been covered on the big screen, after two sagas which failed to deliver for fans. Traditionally, Spider-Man films have been corny, cheesy and all manners of bad.
It is perhaps for that reason then, that Homecoming distances itself from some of the tropes of the first two sets of the films. Homecoming does its best to ignore or barely touch upon various elements of Spider-Man’s backstory such as Uncle Ben’s death or the radioactive spider. It’s a refreshing change which makes the viewer relate better to the film without having to suffer the same old story.
Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-Man is phenomenal. He perfectly encapsulates the naive, angsty teenager whose intentions are often better than his actions. This, coupled with that all-so-familiar youthful struggle of trying to be bigger and better than you are, lends itself to some excellent character development. How he interacts with Tony Stark and his assistant, Happy, does a lot to flesh out that naivety and Holland captures it very well. His relationship with his best friend, Ned, a chubby and charming sidekick, is hilarious and heartwarming and is a real highlight of the film.
The film ranges from silly to serious, from sinister to light-hearted. In previous films, there has been a tendency to stray from grittiness and darkness. Homecoming does not shy away. There are real moments of sinister behaviour, in part helped by the performance of Michael Keaton as Vulture – who does a fantastic job of playing off Peter Parker’s youthful ignorance. The director has done an excellent job of striking a balance between the classic sarcastic banter of the franchise and a more serious underlying tone. Jokes are plentiful and funny, but that doesn’t stop the film from being serious as and when it needs to be.
One of the main problems with the film is that the aforementioned Vulture’s backstory leaves a lot to be desired. The opening scene in the film does some work to explain it, then the narrative skips eight years and he’s a fully established villain with little to no details as to how he got there. It is a minor gripe but a gripe nonetheless. It cannot compare to the origin story of someone like The Green Goblin, for example. There’s almost nothing learned about him. Nonetheless, Keaton excels in the role and manages to leave the audience hating him and fearing him in equal measure. The scale of his villainy is never in question. He doesn’t feel cheap, but still maintains his flaws. It’s a shame there isn’t more to it and the movie focuses far more on Spider-Man’s inner struggle than the enemy he’s trying to stop.
Homecoming is an example of a franchise reboot done correctly. From beginning to end, it’s an enthralling film which will leave everyone, fans or not, satisfied when the credits roll. It sets an excellent foundation for future explorations into the story, and in the post-credits scene there are strong hints of a sequel (which most will know is not uncommon in Marvel films). If there is a lesson to be learned from this instalment in the previously underwhelming Spider-Man series, it’s that superhero films are far from dead and Spidey will have an important role to play.