Main cast: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Michael Keaton (Adrian Toomes), Laura Harrier (Liz), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Zendaya (Michelle Jones), Donald Glover (Aaron Davis), Tony Revolori (Eugene “Flash” Thompson), Jon Favreau (Harold “Happy” Hogan), Tyne Daly (Anne Marie Hoag), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Chris Evans (Captain America), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), and Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man)
Director: Jon Watts
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a Marvel Studios movie. That’s basically it in a nutshell.
Wisely, it tries to shake things up so that I am not subjected to the same old origins story for the third time in twenty years. They have a young kid with a 35-year old man’s face to play a teenage Peter Parker, and then turn him into another version of Iron Man by getting rid of the spider sense thing and instead giving him an AI similar to Tony Stark’s FRIDAY via a powered up Spider-Man suit (also similar to the Iron Man suit). Oh, of course get him shirtless in that obligatory one changing scene in the perfectly acceptable male objectification way that Marvel superhero movies like to treat their audience, because Peter Parker is now a teenage checklist version of the Marvel hero template.
In this movie, Peter has been bitten by a spider, but much of his origins story is wisely left off screen, including the whole Uncle Ben thing, which is only alluded to as the tragedy that made Aunt May become overprotective of Peter. Instead, we focus on him trying his best to make his mark as the neighborhood vigilante while waiting for Tony Stark to call him and let him join the Avengers. Oh, and his high school teen angst, about how he has a crush on the brainy but hot Liz while trying to balance his “Stark Industries internship” with his friendship with overweight comic relief nerd Ned when he’s not dealing with the efforts of bratty rich kid Flash to publicly embarrass him.
The whole high school thing which takes up a bulk of the middle or so of the movie bores me silly because, one, it is so insincere. Peter is what I’d call a fake nerd. He claims to be a nerd, some kids call him a loser, but two hot chicks are obviously crushing on him, and he looks like the butt baby of Taron Egerton trying very hard to look 16. Because everyone in Peter’s high school is a stereotype and the angst is so lightweight and superficial, I don’t care and hence, I am bored.
It is only in the late third or so, when Peter’s efforts to thwart the neighborhood bad guy Adrian Toomes’s efforts to steal “alien technology” and have his men create deadly weapons out of them to be sold to the highest bidder come to a head, that things become interesting. Adrian Toomes is one of the very few Marvel superhero movie villains that have some semblance of personality – not much, but more than most at least. Here, Adrian was a blue-collar man who cashed in all he had to win a contract to clear up the mess left by the Avengers after their last outing together, only to have the government and Tony Stark swoop in to take over at the last minute. As one of his men remarks, Tony caused the mess, and now he gets paid to clean it up. So Adrian goes mad and swings to the other extreme, selling weapons and stuff even if he’s just doing it to give his family and his employees a better life. But don’t expect any deep commentary about the way the world is here, though – this movie has six scriptwriters, but they all came together mostly to come up with as much Whedon-tier wisecracks as possible for Peter to quip.
Ah yes, the quips. I know, Peter Parker is a quip machine, and I like that about him, but here, the quips occasionally ruin what could have been powerful scenes. The movie’s obsession with having Peter in every scene causes him to sometimes intrude on powerful, quiet moments between other characters and let him completely spoil the moment by either making that moment all about him (and let’s face it, his baggage is the least interesting one here) or letting him say some quip that just ruins everything. The people who came up with the quips just aren’t good enough, especially not when Deadpool is still fresh in my head – poor Peter Parker often comes off like a sad acolyte that tries too hard to follow that guy.
On the bright side, Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei are perfectly fine in their roles, while Robert Downey Jr fortunately is relegated to some cameos. And yes, Tony is back with Pepper, for anyone who cares about that dull romance. Gwyneth Paltrow is in the main billing, but she has only one scene in this movie, thank goodness, as I can’t care less about Tony and Pepper.
Spider-Man: Homecoming can be entertaining aside from the boring high school Glee-like drama, oh yes, but then again, so is any Marvel Studios movies. This one doesn’t try too hard to innovate on a successful formula, though, and there are many things here that are ticked off the same checklist that became the foundation of previous movies. And that checklist is becoming fairly obvious now. I won’t say people shouldn’t watch this movie in the big screen, but I feel like there is something missing here that keeps me from liking it more. It’s just okay, it will do, and I doubt I will remember much of it a few weeks down the road.