Tom Holland Finally Proves You Can Be A Great Peter Parker AND Spider-Man & Michael Keaton Soars As The Vulture
In the last fifteen years, three men have worn the red spandex and played the part of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were both decent as the web slinger, but neither actor was able to get both Peter and his alter-ego’s personality down perfectly for the complete package. Maguire was a better Spider-Man, while Garfield was a better Peter. However, in Spider-Man: Homecoming Tom Holland manages to prove you can be both a great Peter and a great Spidey at the same.
This latest reboot finally lands Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Picking up right where Captain America: Civil War ended, we see a young Parker (Holland) working to earn a permanent spot on the Avengers team. The high school sophomore juggles homework, crushes, and fighting crime as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. When he stumbles upon Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his team making deadly weapons using alien technology recovered from the first Avengers battle, Parker tries to warn Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) of the dangerous development. Peter realizes he’ll have to do the job himself and with the help of his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) he embarks on a mission to stop The Vulture while trying to keep his secret identity hidden from his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and his classmates.
As mentioned before, Holland manages to portray the best Peter Parker and Spider-Man seen on the big screen yet. It helps that Holland is young enough to play a believable high school sophomore. Furthermore, he flawlessly captures the personality of the nerdy social outcast that Parker really is. Even without his alter ego’s super powers, the coming of age story Holland grows through makes for an entertaining teen movie. Neither part of the character’s duality outshines the other. Holland gives us an awesome Peter Parker movie and a spectacular Spider-Man movie weaved into one.
Yet, it’s not just Spider-Man that shines in this film. He gets a little help from his rival, The Vulture. Michael Keaton plays a Birdman once again and gives the MCU one of its best villains to date. Keaton’s Toomes is exceptionally well developed and the actor brings him to life brilliantly. He’s not pure evil, you know his motives. Yet, there is something menacing about the man and Keaton’s pointy grin and gritty voice makes for an intimidating villain for Spidey to confront. While Vulture comes from Peter Parker’s gallery of rogues, this rendition emerges from the shadow of Tony Stark. He’s really the anti-Stark. If only Iron Man was able to fight a villain like The Vulture in his three films. The costume design blending with Keaton’s amazing performance will leave this winged bad guy at the top of best villain debates for quite some time I imagine.
Someone I feel needs some major recognition is Jacob Batalon as Peter’s friend Ned. This friendship felt more real than any previous friendship we’ve seen between Parker and a peer. I can’t imagine Harry Osborne ever replacing Ned as Parker’s best friend. Batalon is hilarious throughout and really adds a lot to the film. Serving as both Parker’s partner in crimefighting and confidant, Ned is the audience’s window into this superhero world. There are plenty of moments where Ned will make you laugh and cheer and we give tribute to Batalon for bringing this loveable character to life.
Director Jon Watts captures the John Hughes feeling well and then throws in a great Marvel hero to boot. While this maybe this latest iteration of Spider-Man’s first standalone movie, it trumps the origin story necessity. Instead of seeing Peter once again get bit and lose his Uncle Ben, the hero’s origin is a simple story to Ned and it works great. We don’t need to see Peter create his hero persona all over again. Instead, Watts gives us a film and a Spider-Man that actually matures on the job. It gives the audience a connection with the character we have experienced yet. The view and Parker both realize his true superhero potential together. It really makes for a satisfying journey for both the character and us as the audience.
However, hardcore fans of Spider-Man might feel a little jaded towards this versions growth as a hero. Especially, the purists. The suit we see Parker in for most of the film is a creation of Tony Stark. In a way, this sort of makes every ability Peter learns stem from Stark’s mentorship. There are aspects of Spider-Man‘s suit that make him feel like Iron Man Jr. at times. While I didn’t mind this feeling, I am sure there will be a few people out there that take offense to this characteristic.
Additionally, people coming to the movie to see Iron Man might leave a bit disappointed. The marketing for this film makes it feel like Tony Stark plays a huge part in the plot. While Robert Downey Jr. has his moments, he’s really only in the film for a few minutes. However, his essence and his looming shadow are a key building block to both our hero and our villain. For those who thought Iron Man would take up too much screen time, you’ll be happy with this film. There’s just the right amount of the Avenger to not overwhelm. If any Avenger shines in their small screentime, its the Captain America cameos. Everyone single one hits the mark.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe now consists of nearly two dozen films, Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like the first movie to actually exist in a universe that has these heroes around. The world building finally makes some headway and all it took was a little Peter Parker. There’s the Captain America cameos, the Avengers tower in the background, the fallout from past films serving as the root of our villains rise, and just small easter eggs here and there that remind you this world has superheroes running around in it. We’ve had three Spider-Man movies outside the MCU during its existences and finally getting him into the universe really brings the giant franchise to life.
In the end, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a triumph thanks to all its amazing parts. The film features the best portrayal of Peter Parker and his alter-ego yet, an MCU villain to inspire future villains, and a coming to age superhero story that isn’t overburdened by your typical origin story shenanigans. We can’t wait for Parker’s next year of high school and his next big date to the dance. There’s no more need for reboots. Tom Holland can play Peter Parker for the next twenty years and we’ll be happier for it. If anyone can replace Robert Downey Jr. as the face of the MCU, it’s Holland as Spider-Man.
Supchucks’ Official Grade: A
Spider-Man: Homecoming Official Synopsis:
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Bokeem Woodbine, and Donald Glover.
Director(s): Jon Watts
Writer(s): Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley AND Jon Watts & Christopher Ford AND Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments)
Runtime: 133 minutes
Studio: Sony and Marvel Studios