Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford
and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
Screen story by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
Based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
Directed by Jon Watts
It’s not necessary for a superhero film to have a deeper meaning. Action, superheroes, and the good fight against evil are satisfying all by themselves. But the comparison is there. What do you do when your intellect meets or surpasses that of the adults around you but you still have to deal with the problems particular to adolescence and growing up? What if you are ready and willing to be “super” but the world around you only needs you to be good? I’ve never seen a hero so ready for the Call to Adventure and so frustrated that it doesn’t happen, no matter how many times he checks his phone.
That thought leads me to several of the many reasons I love this version of Spider-Man. One is that Peter Parker is smart again. I know there’s some controversy about the fact that he has mechanized web shooters instead of a natural web shooting ability. I agree that after being bit by a radioactive spider it seems that spinning webs should be organic. But in the comics Spider-Man built things and created web potions. I like that he is intelligent and creative.
Spider-Man has often been a bit of a Sad Sack. Things don’t go right for him, and I don’t mean the angst and guilt of losing a family member. Life just doesn’t go well sometimes, and he doesn’t have the resources of a Batman or Iron Man. This is not portrayed so much in the movie, but as a mom, I cringed every time he chose battling evil and missed out on something good. The bad guys will still be there after the pool party, believe me.
Another thing that felt authentic is that he is young, with the ideals and problems of a young person. The kids around him felt real. The diversity in the cast is terrific. Many of the characters could be major players from the comics in future stories. I won’t name names for fear of spoilers. The neighborhood was realistic but charming, something worth saving.
Tom Holland did a magnificent job. He has the quality that makes you want to go on the journey with him, and hang on his every emotion.
I have long been a fan of Michael Keaton and he does a fine job in this movie. Both the ordinary guy he so often plays and the off-kilter hero/villain are embodied here. Toomes is an understandable and banal evil, but also creepy as all get out. He’s exactly where someone would be, coming from where he is coming from, that had a little bit of psychopathy and a lot of drive mixed with opportunity. I don’t think it’s an accident that his superpowers come from stolen or scavenged tech. He’s not a creator or someone with natural abilities. He’s a scrounger. A scavenger. What surprises me about his character is that the director gave him plenty of screen time for Michael Keaton to round out his portrayal. Jon Watts lets him do his stuff and be what he needs to be.
And it’s funny! I am so tired of Spider-Man without humor. The Spider-Man I grew up with was full of quips, puns and sarcasm. He got into scrapes that were funny.
The few negatives: The music is uninspired. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is wasted. All we get about her is people exclaiming about her looks. I would like her to do something. She needed at least one scene of her own. Also, there are a few spots in which sheer willpower is valued over thinking one’s way out of a situation. I know those are normal, constant scenes in superhero films, but I don’t think they are really suitable for Spider-Man. Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) was sometimes intrusive, taking away rather than contributing to Spider-Man’s story. However, he’s both necessary to the plot and the theme, as he is the not so helpful mentor and the pathway to the MCU. A special mention has to be given out to Jon Favreau, Stark’s lackey. He was great as the guy assigned to babysit Peter Parker.
I would like to see Peter stay young in the next few movies and deal with ordinary life while being Spider-Man. The scenes dealing with high school and his peers were some of the best parts of the film.
He also needs to learn to knit. It may not be on the STEM curriculum, but it might help him with the physics of web building.
This is a good start for Spider-Man’s reboot and entrance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Our child prodigy will grow up to a master superhero and I will be delighted to see it happen.