‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Roundtable Review

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.  Directed by Jon Watts; Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers; Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Laura Harrier, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover; Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments; Running time 133 minutes; In wide release July 7, 2017.

Does the newest Spider-Man movie do whatever a spider can? Just as our friendly neighborhood Spidey can’t do this movie alone, we needed to assemble our own Mighty Marvel Team-Up to share our thoughts. 

Andy: So in this situation, does that make me Peter Parker? Or Tony Stark? I think I’m more of a Happy Hogan sort of guy. 

Adam: I’ll call Aunt May. She gets my favorite line in the movie.

Andy: I larb her. I can see that. Or maybe I’m Ned. Maybe we’re both Ned. 

Adam: Second thought, I’ll be Ned right there with you because he’s pretty much me if I found out my best friend was Spider-Man.

Andy: Totally. 

Adam: But let’s talk about this movie because I’m really excited to dive in. To put it simply, this is the Spider-Man movie I’ve waited my whole life to see. And that’s not downplaying the excellent Spider-Man 2 which still ranks up there as one of the best superhero movies of all time. But as much as I love that and Tobey Maguire’s take on the character (except three, we just forget that one exists), no one has been able to more perfectly nail the Spider-Man and Peter Parker until now. Tom Holland embodies the role in a way we haven’t seen since Robert Downey Jr. took on the mantle of Tony Stark. Holland is obviously a talented actor, but it most likely helps that he’s so much closer in age to Peter Parker than either Maguire or Garfield were. Peter Parker was always likeable but never so much as he is now. He acts exactly how a kid would if they got super powers and were trying to fit into the adult world of being an Avenger despite the fact he’s got homework and trying to figure out girls he’s crushing on. In fact, it’s a wonderful example of adolescence in general as it shows him trying to balance out being a kid and maturing into an adult. As much as people have been joking that this is Spider-Man meets Breakfast Club, there are a lot of similarities to it and other John Hughes classics. 

Andy: The simple fact that there are two very obvious homages to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (at basically the same time) tells you that’s exactly what they’re going for. And they nail it. I can’t decide if this is a reason I dislike the film or that I like it so much, but it’s that it’s so full of teen angst. Instead of this being about fighting a galactic menace, he’s focused on the people robbing the ATM in his neighborhood with these funky weapons the Vulture made. He’s that “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” that Stark asks him to be. But, like any teenager, he’s trying to prove himself and that he’s ready to be an adult– but he really isn’t. This Peter Parker is kind of a screw-up, and it’s fun to watch. But one of the best things they did right in this movie is what they don’t do. There’s no origin story of being bitten by a radioactive spider. No Uncle Ben. And while I kind of wanted to see Spidey being motivated by his great power and great responsibility, this just isn’t that story. This is the teenager who wants to grow up too fast. And that’s a bold move for a superhero genre movie to stray so far from the formula of what we expect in a reboot. 

Adam: It’s also wonderful to see what they’ve been able to do by including the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper. Happy Hogan, Avenger’s Tower, Iron Man, Cap and more all make their presence known, but it’s never overbearing. Yes, this is definitely a world where Spider-Man and the Avengers coexist, but it’s still very much set in the Spider-Man universe. And that’s good to see because this easily could have become a film where Marvel tried to shoehorn in as much of their properties as possible just to show that they are better at making these kinds of movies than Sony, but they wisely restrained themselves and let it all play out much more organically. 

Andy: But the Cap moments. . .  those worked so well for me. This was nice, though, because just like with Guardians of the Galaxy, you can seen how they fit in the same universe, but the tone is so different that you get that this is its own thing. I’m glad to see Sony take that step with the webslinger, because Spider-Man should be more quippy, more angsty. And I like that they keep the action for the most part in Queens, as opposed to Manhattan. That’s the Avengers’ territory– this is yours. It threads the needle perfectly of being both in the MCU and also its own thing.

Adam: And can we talk about the Vulture for a second? I’ve never been a fan of that character, so I’ll be the first to admit how surprised I am that they actually made him cool and menacing! Michael Keaton is fantastic in the role and makes him not just a potent villain but also one that we can identify with. He’s not out to destroy the galaxy or take over the world. No, he was just a little guy who got screwed over and is doing whatever it takes to provide for his family. Of course once he assumes more power and money it corrupts him, but even then he still had honor and wasn’t the bad guy for the sole sake of being evil. 

Andy: BIRDMAN!!!! Yes, so amazing. I think other than Loki he’s my favorite MCU villain– because he’s not a bad guy. He’s a normal guy who gets stepped on and decides to use stolen space technology to provide for his family. Even his name makes sense– the Vulture– because he’s picking the scraps off of whatever fight The Avengers and SHIELD just had. And despite his bluster about being against the 1%– let’s be super real, here. We find out he’s doing just fine financially. Yes, he’s worried about providing for his family, but he provides for them in a pretty upper-middle-class way. There’s something to be said here about the rise of the Trump voter and the fear of loss of privilege. . .  but I’ll save that diatribe until more people have had a chance to see the movie and can discuss this in more depth with spoilers.

Adam: So yes, this was just overall a fantastic film, and one that I immediately went out and got tickets to see it again as soon as possible. Tom Holland is the best part of the movie, and I’m not sure if we will ever get a better portrayal of the character. Everything moved along nicely and balanced drama, action, comedy and even some touching moments between Peter and May. And I’ll say it again because it bears repeating — they made the Vulture cool! I know Sony has been talking about not making their Venom and other spinoff movies part of the MCU, so I’m really hoping this one blows up with other critics and at the box office to make them change their minds. Working with Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal has done wonders for this property, and Sony would be fools if they didn’t collaborate on all future films. 10 out of 10.

Andy: Whoa, slow down there– a perfect 10? It’s great, but I don’t think it’s quite there. This is incredibly funny and definitely one of the best Spider-Man movies and of the MCU. But this is Spider-Man with his “training wheels” on (*wink wink*). Let’s see what Sony can do without input from Feige and Co and if they can fly equally as high. But this is still amazing, and the title Homecoming couldn’t be more appropriate. Welcome back,.Parker. 8.5 out of 10.