Spoiler-Free Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

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With great power comes great responsibility. We all heard this in one way or another, whether it was from the dozens of cartoons, the handful of movies, and thousands of comics. This phrase cannot have more meaning than with the creation of this movie. When you mix an iconic character with two powerhouse movie studios, you can get a disastrous result. Who knew that we’d end up with a wonderful Spider-Man movie?

Our first taste of Spider-Man was in that spectacular trailer for Captain America: Civil War. The audience reaction was mixed. We either crossed our arms with hesitant cynicism, or went bonkers with glee over. When the movie finally came out and we saw him swing in, we were floored. He was just amazing. So when it was announced that he was getting a solo movie, our hopes were secured. I was still hesitant. I was worried how much control Sony would have.

I am relieved to have my cynicism be proven wrong. « Spider-Man: Homecoming » is the Spider-Man movie we need. The movie is a teen romance akin to those popular 80s John Hughes romances, but with more action and web-slinging. Barely any unnecessary exposition was used to remind us how he got his powers, or how he came to the decision to be a superhero. Even though it takes place sometime in the very convoluted Marvel Cinematic Universe, you don’t need to rewatch every movie before this to keep up. It only takes 5 minutes to remind us what we need to know, and it’s done in such a unique way.

Tom Holland is a refreshing mix of the classic Steve Ditko’s awkward teen, and Brian Michael Bendis’ sarcastic and quippy hero. He takes elements from the Spectacular Spider-Man TV Series, and the new Amazing Spider-Man comic series. He has the gadgets and the tech, but he is still a teenager living on a budget. He is best buds with nerds and outcasts, and gets bullied by the popular guy in the school. He’s probably the best incarnation of this character so far. Tobey Maguire always had a permanent « lost puppy look » plastered on his face, it seemed forced. Andrew Garfield was too confident and cocky to play teenage Parker, he had too much swagger to his troubled life. Holland played a Parker that tried to pull off Garfield’s version, but ended up looking ridiculous, and it made us laugh and cry. He stammers, he jokes, and ultimately he fails. The other important character in any superhero movie is the villain. Michael Keaton is wonderful as The Vulture. It’s a different take from what comic fans are used to, but it has an interesting new twist. I like how, to a degree, he shares certain similarities to Spider-Man. He’s the little guy, and he’s trying to survive in a world of giants. His performance was engaging, by being both frightening and charming at the same time. He showed leadership, ambition, and determination, and it was all believable. We are starting to get good villains in Marvel movies. Based on the trailers, you’d expect Iron man to be a prominent player, instead he’s brought in once in a while, giving more time for the more important characters to get the development they need.

The biggest obstacle with any Spider-Man medium is the overuse of the classic Spider-Man tropes. He has to balance his two lives, one as Spider-Man, and one as Peter Parker. He has to keep his identity secret. He has to face off people who are stronger and smarter than him. They are all still there, but they felt fresh. It has everything to do with the performance of the actors. As an audience, we don’t need Rube Goldberg scenarios to force Peter Parker into making a hard decision. He’s a teenager. His life is already overly complicated. Girls, extracurricular activities, and being indifferent to family gatherings is all that’s needed. Don’t go in expecting something terribly new, but be happy to know that this movie doesn’t have a baby or old woman trapped in a burning building.

Finally, we can’t have a superhero movie without fight scenes. The action that we do see is fun, but it took a different take on it. He’s still learning how to use his powers, and that there are times his power-set is very situational. It works wonders for character development, and Spider-Man gets beat down again and again. The few crucial scenes when we see him kick serious butt are really well done, but I was hoping for more. Simply I think there should have been more web-slinging. I can however easily forgive it all for this one scene that just exemplifies Spider-Man’s struggle that gave me chills, as it brought an iconic event from a Spider-Man book into movie form.

Spider-Man is really an allegory for about failing only to survive to try again the next day. This is done perfectly in a meta sense of the movie. Both Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 failed to reach expectations, and it shows that they didn’t put enough effort to make a good movie. Spider-Man: Homecoming came home to its roots. It’s a wonderful movie. It ignores the dark and gritty angst that a lot of superhero movies overuse, and gives us a movie with a heart. It brings in the old with the new, and it’s perfect for every generation of Spider-Man fan.

How about a review en français? – Spider-Man: Homecoming – À vos marques, précoces, éjaculez!

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David Harris

David Harris has lived in Montreal his whole life. He thoroughly enjoys discussing most subjects including the arts, technology, and good food. He shows a great appreciation for good stories and dialogue, which suits his passions perfectly: television, movies, and graphic novels. But, deep down, he has to admit that his biggest love will always be with the movies and movie going experience.

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