Now that Spider-man Homecoming has been out for a while it seems the internet is flooding with more and more reviews. I’ve seen some posts going around social media stating “Spider-man Homecoming isn’t a good Spider-man movie”, or something to that effect. What follows may be an opinion piece of mine, but it’s the opinion of someone who’s been a fan of the webslinger for 26 years. Let’s look at this in two parts; why it works as a movie in the MCU and why it works as a Spider-man movie.
The elements that make it a good MCU movie
The MCU seems to have hit a plateau. Whilst there’s no denying that each movie is a hit (and enjoyable) when you look back it’s hard to argue that there are some problems. Spider-man Homecoming acts as a breath of fresh air. It’s more contained within Spidey’s own little world. It continues to remind us and almost shows off how small his universe is in the bigger picture Marvel. We’ve had people dealing with planet ending events, and along comes a spider stopping bicycle thieves and helping old ladies. Even the villain plays into this, speaking about being the little guy, staying under the radar, . Which leads me to the next point.
The Vulture is one of the best MCU villains. His character not only gets a superbly crafted arc, but there are some great twists and, in many ways, you can relate to him and the struggles he goes through. The movie also gives us plenty of Easter eggs at potential new villains, whilst leaving enough open for the studio to do what they need to in the future.
The elements of a good Spider-man Movie
The writers of Homecoming seem to have listened to what fans enjoyed most about Peter/ Spider-man in previous iterations of the character. Holland seems to take the best of both Maguire’s Peter and Garfield’s Spider-man, whilst adding in a lot of his own to both. As Peter he’s humble and empathetic, but as Spider-man he has more confidence, with the classic wit we’ve come to love about Spidey.
In classic Spider-man fashion he makes mistakes. This is something we’ve seen not just in previous incarnations of the character on the silver screen, but in comic books, games, and tv series. Within the first 30 minutes he makes the mistake of stopping a car thief, but the person isn’t stealing a car he’s trying to get into his own car. We don’t see him in the big city, because he’s operating in the suburb of Queens. We’ve also seen him in Manhattan and other areas in other incarnations of the character on the big screen. It’s good to see something different.
The movie has a lot of heart, about a guy not just trying to impress a mentor, but also about Peter looking to try figure out his place as a superhero. He’s a kid who can stop a bus with his “bare hands”, but he also enjoys building lego death stars. He wants to be an Avenger, and that’s his motivation. We see classic elements of Peter’s struggle to deal with balancing his two lives as his love interest Liz runs past him in her bathing suit, and it’s a strong theme in the movie, but it isn’t the main theme.
It’s been done before, particularly well in Raimi’s “Spider-man 2”, this theme was kept at the forefront of our mind throughout the movie. Even “Amazing Spider-man 2” used this to varying degrees of success. Critics might say we needed more obvious nods to his backstory, but they were there. Perhaps a bit subtle, you’d need to keep your eyes and ears open. One reason this works is unnecessarily shoving in plot points is why we’re on our third Spider-man reboot and not discussing a Raimi Spider-man 4/5/6 or Webb’s Amazing Spider-man 3.
Spider-man Homecoming has it’s issues, that’s undeniable. Yet, it is still a Spider-man movie. In many ways Peter does become a “Mini Tony Stark”. However, this is in straight from the pages of the comic books. If you’ve been reading Dan Slott’s recent run on Spider-man, even Peter admits he’s a “poor man’s Tony Stark.” Many of the “problems” appear to be more nitpicking, and hold little water when you realise the creative team didn’t mess with the DNA of Spider-man’s, who he is and what he wants to be. Inspiration is borrowed from has come before Homecoming in comic books, games, movies, tv series, and more. All the elements of a great Spider-man movie are there, with something new for us to enjoy along the way.