Back to School
Marvel and Sony made waves when the news of their new, complex partnership would allow Spider-Man to finally take part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the highly praised Civil War appearance, fans have been eagerly waiting to see what Spidey’s creators would do with control over one of their most popular characters. The answer to said waiting? Marvel straight up knocks it out of the park with star Tom Holland embodying everything that makes the friendly neighborhood spider guy so damn wonderful.
Spiderman: Homecoming makes the wise decision to forego the origin story which comic fans have watched far too often, and picks up right with Peter Parker learning how to balance hero duty with being a kid in high school. Turns out doing one or the other is hard enough let alone doing both. Luckily he has help on both sides; Tony Stark A.K.A. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to keep Parkers heroing more or less on a safe track whereas his school buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) keeps pulling Peter back into the world of normalcy. It can’t be all fun and games though as a frightening new force is making trouble in Spidey’s New York burrow in the form of Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Peter will have to find a way to stop his menacing new foe and keep his life from falling apart in his roller coaster of an adventure.
Immediately, what strikes out about the latest Spider-Man actor is how well he personifies everything that is loveable and imperfect about the famous wall crawler. Peter is smart and capable, understandably overconfident in his newfound abilities. Tired of stopping small time thugs, Peter constantly berates Tony Stark for a chance to achieve his dream of becoming an Avenger. When he’s not trying to save the city, he’s trying to save his lackluster social life. Barely making it to class and being unable to talk to the girl he likes are problems that only worsen the more responsibility he takes up as a hero. Jacob Barlton also steals the show in the lovable best friend role, owning many scenes just by reacting to Peter’s crazy powers (I’m cheating on that spoiler because it was shown in the trailers but all grievances may be aired to Marvel’s marketing team).
Marvel normally has a big issue fleshing out its villains and that may have been the case this time around if they did not have such an accomplished actor playing the role. Only Keaton could take a peaceful blue collar Adrian Toomes from the starting minutes of the film to a cold blooded Vulture the next and make it all look fairly natural. Toomes starts off as the head of a clean-up crew, hired to take care of the mess left behind by superhero superbattles that have made rubble of much of New York. After the Avengers hire their own team to pick up the pieces, Toomes immediately decides “F*ck it, might as well kill em.” It’s more than a small stretch of logic but Keaton does his best to make it work. When he does get to go full villain, the actor gets to have fun in really showing his teeth and fully revels in the opportunity. As far as Marvel villains go, Vulture is definitely more the cream of the crop and hopefully Marvel finds a way to keep him around.
Spiderman: Homecoming very much lives up to its name, being a proud return home for the character. Tom Holland nails what it’s like to be a struggling kid with overwhelming responsibility and makes natural choices and mistakes that have consequences that only further develop him as a person. He makes a wonderful addition the MCU and definitely holds the potential to be front running it as the more senior heroes decide to hang their capes. Only time will tell, but for this entry at least, Marvel does right by their character. RDR gives it a 9 out of 10.