With more than a decade since Spider-Man last had a great solo film, it almost felt like those halcyon years of Sam Raimi’s first two installment might have been unicorns. But now it seems that director Jon Watts has led another one out of the forest and the drought is finally over with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Yes, the film is good, really good. Is it the best Superhero film ever? No, nowhere close. Is it the best Spider-Man film ever? No, Alfred Molina’s Otto Octavius from 2004’s Spider-Man 2 edges out Homecoming’s Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) – but it’s really close. It might be said, however, that this Spider-Man is closest to the flavor of the classic comic character that we’ve seen thus far.
Peter is freshly returned from his adventures in Captain America: Civil War and trying to to adjust to the tedium of being a sophomore in high school. He might have stolen Cap’s shield, but he’s still just 15 and new to the superhero game. Tony Stark is playing the absentee father figure for Peter by keeping him at arm’s length. He’s not an Avenger, Tony points out, and he should just keep things low-key. Be, you know, “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”
Try as he might, he keeps stumbling on some construction workers turned arms dealers by salvaging some of the various alien tech that’s laying around New York from the Avenger’s prior battles. The arms dealers are being led and protected by a villain with a highly advanced wing system (this would be the Vulture). Unfortunately getting caught in the crosshairs of arms dealers with advanced weaponry winds up being anything but low-key, and Tony effectively grounds Peter by confiscating his Stark Industries-built suit.
The action with the bad guys is largely solid, though Spidey’s traipsing around on his webs is probably some of the less effective portions of the effects shots. I can’t really put my finger on it, the effects are fine, but it just feels that the cinematography isn’t as strong if he’s not in the midst of a fight at the moment.
Parker’s trials and tribulations around school make up the heart of the film, and surprisingly it doesn’t fall flat. It’s a reasonably diverse set of kids that he hangs out with, and there’s some reasonable depth to most of their archetype characters. Sure, The Breakfast Club they’re not, but neither is it tedious to watch. Both the superhero side as well as the angsty-teen side of the film hold up remarkably well together rather than twiddling your thumbs waiting for the other storyline to kick back in.
As with Ant-Man, this film is far smaller in scope than what we get with the rest of the Avengers. It’s not Thor running around the multiverse, or Iron-Man beating up governments, it’s a local-hero story. He clocks most of his hero-hours capturing bicycle thieves and purse snatchers.
Indeed, the film’s flavor can probably be compared to a mash-up of Ant-Man and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – and not in a bad way. It’s a coming of age film wrapped in a superhero’s spandex suit. Go check it out, it’s worth catching while the crowds are still seeing it for the first time.
And for the record, there are two in-credits scenes for this one.
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