Spider-Man: Homecoming Takes Peter Parker To Intriguing New Heights
When we check back in with Peter Parker at the beginning of Spider-Man: Homecoming—after a brief prologue introducing the treachery of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton)—he’s still riding high from the events of Captain America: Civil War.
Having already made a positive impression on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Parker expects an invitation to join The Avengers, but instead gets an expensive new suit and some encouraging (if somewhat dismissive) words of advice, only to be sent back to his regular life.
When Parker returns to high school, he’s understandably distracted by his newfound status, powers, and responsibilities. While he’s expected to keep all of this under wraps, his pal Ned (Jacob Batalon) eventually discovers his secret, further complicating Parker’s already tumultuous high school life.
Anxious to enjoy the full spectrum of superhero abilities, Peter incessantly pesters Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), hoping to attract renewed attention from Stark. He also searches for crimes to disrupt and explores the potential of his new Spidey suit.
With the help of Ned, he eventually breaks through the “training wheels protocol,” turning himself into an Iron Man-style Spider-Man with heightened senses and an array of new abilities, both convenient and dangerous. As Parker struggles with these new powers, he also juggles high school romance, the growing threat of Toomes (aka The Vulture), and Stark’s occasional disapproval, all of which comes to a head the night of the homecoming dance.
If the promise of a finale in and around a high school dance brings Back to the Future to mind, you’re not far from the reality of this reboot. For one, the consistently likable Tom Holland—he plays Peter Parker as an energetic, wide-eyed teen, who’s constantly out of his depth—channels a young Michael J. Fox. (Both films also offer an unlikely marriage of high school and science fiction.) While director Jon Watts (Cop Car) has cited the films of John Hughes as his primary influence (Ferris Bueller appears on a TV at one point), the spirit of those angst-filled teen movies is never especially evident.
Thanks to the presence of superheroes and villains, Watts and company manage to bring the high school movie to some intriguing new places, but their teens lack the depth of Hughes’s most iconic creations. They also pale in comparison to their adult counterparts, namely Downey, Favreau, Keaton, and Marisa Tomei (who plays Aunt May).
The other small strike against Spider-Man: Homecoming is its timing. Arriving on the heels of Marvel’s inventive and imaginative Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this feels undeniably formulaic by comparison. Still, Marvel wisely discards several superhero movie conventions (an origin story, a climactic battle to save the entire planet), instead dedicating the film’s running time to delivering just about everything a Spider-Man fan could want or expect—with plenty of charm to spare.
Watts may lack some of the visual confidence of Sam Raimi (who directed the Spider-Man trilogy that ran from 2002 to 2007), but he generates a spirit of naïve, good-natured fun that will appeal to those more interested in the character’s comic book roots than the art of filmmaking.
If nothing else, Spider-Man: Homecoming cements the title character’s place in the MCU, if not quite elevating him to the heights of Marvel’s other heavyweights. It’s in no way a bad reset for the character, even if Peter Parker still has a ways to go before reaching his previous cinematic peak, which is still Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives in theatres tonight. Check out the trailer below, and definitely give it a spin in theatres.