When Sony finally made a deal with Marvel to allow them to work on a Spider-man project, geeks everywhere flipped out. We got the first taste of Tom Holland’s Spider-man in “Captain America: Civil War,” and he practically stole the show. Now, in the newly released “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” we got a full-fledged Spidey adventure. Considering the script was thrown together so last-minute to add Spider-Man to the MCU, and considering the recent track record of Spider-Man movies in general, this movie was a strong addition to the series and set up potentially awesome sequels (I actually liked “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” but most people haven’t liked a Spider-Man movie since the second Tobey Maguire movie).
Holland is perfect as Peter Parker. In his opening scene, he’s video recording segments of his “Stark Internship,” which includes when he first receives his Spider-Man suit and when he goes off to fight in “Civil War” (it was really cool because he hides a camera phone while recording, and we get to see the airport scene in “Civil War” from a new angle). Holland shares his excitement as he gets all into it with gesture while retelling and illustrating his cool adventure. He was a perfect 14-year-old kid, full of life and excited to be playing with the big boys.
In a later scene, Iron Man is forced to clean up a mess Spider-Man makes. Afterwards, they share a heated exchange as Iron Man gives him a grown-up lecture. Holland doesn’t come across too whiney here, but actually shows a bit of maturity.
Holland’s best scene, though, was when he seemingly was defeated by Vulture. Amidst a huge pile of rubble that traps him, you can hear and feel his desperation. Maybe he’s now realizing he’s in over his head as he cries for help. But he recalls the words of Stark—after seeing his reflection in a puddle of water with his Spidey mask floating there over half his reflection (it was a total callback to Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode V”—from that aforementioned boat scene: “If you’re nothing without the suit, you shouldn’t even have it.” Iron Man is one of the most complex characters, and it was rewarding to hear him say that, which showed how far his character has progressed since the beginning in the first “Iron Man.”
With some inspiration, Spider-Man lifts just hard enough to free himself and purse Vulture. In the audience, it’s easy to feel a different weight to his battle after that; perhaps revealing his flaws showed how much greater he had to be to overcome his challenges. Indeed, throughout the movie, Spider-Man is not perfect yet. He still misses a web throw while swinging every once in a while, and he was misled a couple times in his pursuits of bad guys.
Considering the haste at which Spider-Man was introduced in the MCU, the decision turned out to be the right one. We didn’t need another full-on origin story that’s been rehashed multiple times. The script in “Homecoming” did a good job of giving subtle nods to his origin and what he’s capable of doing. Peter Parker and his friend are walking down the street, and the scene picks up at the tail-end of an exchange where they discuss the spider that first bit him and gave him his powers. That was perfect. During the fight scene at the ATM machine, Spider-Man is hanging from the ceiling and dodging multiple hits coming at him, a la “The Matrix,” a perfect allusion to his heightened spidey senses.
On a side note, it was funny when, while fighting these crooks who were wearing Avengers masks, Spider-Man jokes with the ones wearing Hulk and Thor masks, saying it was nice to meet them finally.
It was nice not needing to delve into some of those origin details, because the movie was jam-packed from start to finish. The pacing is super quick, but it still executed well in balancing character building, action, plot movement and everything in between. There’s even a great plot twist involving Adrian Toomes/Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) and Parker that completely changes the complexion, tone and tension of the movie. I haven’t seen a mid-movie twist as jarring as that in a while, maybe since “Crazy, Stupid Love.”
For how good “Homecoming” is, though, it was hard not to feel there were a few missed opportunities.
In the opening scene, we get taken back to the aftermath of the First “Avengers” movie, after the aliens struck the planet and left a ton of wreckage in New York. We saw a glimpse of what it was like to have to clean that up (a topic I remember hearing about and discussing quite a bit when that movie came out). Toomes, who hasn’t become Vulture yet, is in charge of a crew that was allowed to scavenge certain areas of the wreckage, and that’s where they found alien tech they could’ve used for any number of (probably illegal) things. But alas, the authorities kick him out. But one of his guys is able to steal some alien tech anyway, which allows Toomes to start an underground operation.
There’s an obvious problem with all this, as well as a missed opportunity here. First of all, why in the world are we supposed to believe that they were able to keep their operations secret for eight years? It’s later proven in the movie that the alien tech is scannable, so there’s no way that someone wouldn’t have come across it at some point.
The bigger issue, though, is that the “someone” who could have (and should have) found it was the crew from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Right after “Avengers,” S.H.I.E.L.D. is still large and in charge. Their job is to find weird anomalies or strange activity and investigate. Heck, they did investigate at one point. There was a perfectly good opportunity to cross paths there again. Swing and a miss.
The other minor blunders mostly have to do with inconsistencies with the comics, which I usually have no problems with. There was this strange girl we see periodically throughout the movie, and we learn her name is Michelle, “But her friends call her MJ.” I’m hoping that this is an inside joke and not the introduction of the actual Mary Jane MJ character from the comics.
There were some other really nerdy nods that fans will appreciate. There’s a scene where Spider-Man/Parker saves his classmates in the Washington Monument, and he is left hanging upside down right in front of the girl he has a crush on (a perfect homage to the original “Spider-Man” kiss scene with Tobey Maguire and Kirstin Dunst). There was a brief, hilarious mention of a kiss before Spidey jets off.
We also got a quick glimpse of the new Avengers base up-state, which has some upgrades and new additions. That was fun to see.
I really wish “Homecoming” was funnier, but oh man, that final post-credit scene with Captain America was a stroke of genius. He pulls a Deadpool and breaks the fourth wall as he talks about how important it is to be patient, then asks someone off-camera, “How many more of these things are there?” Well, there is “Thor: Ragnarok” later this year, then “Black Panther” early next year before Part 1 of “Avengers 3.” I’ve always said that if they keep up the quality, I don’t care how many more of them they make.