3 v. 3: Spider-man Homecoming
Guest Blog by MIKE CAMUNAS, @mikecamunas
Welcome home, Spidey! You webslinger, you threat or menace, you infamous thorn in the side of J. Jonah Jameson.
Actually, in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, there is no mention of The Daily Bugle. The cigar-chomping, Parker-abusing, photo-demanding editor-in-chief and owner is also notably absent.
Despite the marketing focused on Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron-Man, when it comes down to it, this is a coming-of-age, high-school movie about Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
So let’s discuss three (of the many) areas of the film that shined, while also taking a look at the three worst parts that we’ll nitpick about Spider-Man: Homecoming.
3 👍 v. 3 👎 and you can agree or disagree with us. What say you?
*SPOILER ALERT* Your Spidey sense must be tingling...
From beginning to end, Tom Holland (The Impossible, The Lost Kingdom of Z) embodies Queens’ own hometown hero. Nerdy, awkward, humorous, charming and determined, he wants to be the “next” Avenger. From the moment we first saw him shoot his chemistry-class-made web in last years’ Captain America: Civil War, this third incarnation of Spidey swung into our lives and now. With Homecoming, he swings into our hearts.
People will still debate on Tobey Maguire’s take, especially in the train wreck third movie. They will inevitably debate Andrew Garfield’s skateboarding hipster take, but this is the Peter Parker we’ve been waiting for since 2007.
Remember, Peter never had a father figure. Even in this movie there isn’t one mention of Ben Parker. Thankfully this is not another Uncle Ben murder scene. Peter’s uncle and the Wayne's have been killed on screen enough, guys! So when Tony Stark fills in as his mentor giving him the new suit show in Civil War. The airport battle is hilariously replayed from Peter’s smartphone video POV. Peter looks up to Stark like any 15-year old would to a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, with awe and gumption “to be like you.”
Luckily, “with great powers comes great responsibility” isn’t overdone and shoved down our throats, at least not literally. Instead of a monologue about it, it’s Holland who shows us that doing the right thing as Spider-Man isn’t always doing the right thing as Peter Parker. He constantly lets down his best (and only) friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), as well as his crush, Liz (Laura Harrier) and his attractive Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Like any high schooler with extreme powers, Parker gets arrogant and headstrong. It’s his arrogance that let Stark bring Peter down a peg, taking back his awesome suit.
However, Holland handles Peter’s growth and his shining moment beautifully. In his moment of triumph, turns down being the next Avenger to be the “friendly neighborhood” Spider-Man. At least, he is going to remain grounded a little bit longer and that truly makes this the best Peter Parker. He isn’t just handed power and is Spider-man. He needs to grow up first.
Adrian Toomes/The Vulture
Perhaps it was a stroke of genius to cast Michael Keaton (Batman, The Paper) as The Vulture so soon after starring in the Academy-Award-winning Birdman. He was the perfect foe to go up against Peter Parker in this smaller scale MCU.
As Keaton has been doing for years (with the exception of Bruce Wayne), he gives us a blue-collar, regular guy who is dedicated to his family. His hatred for Stark and the one percenters is evident, but it doesn’t consume him like other “villains.” Instead, it’s his family he wants to protect and while the plot twist isn’t the most jaw dropping, the reveal is done quite tying into what else, the Homecoming dance. .
Keaton chews a few scenes he’s in, brings his comfortable humor to a few lines and comes off perfect once you get to the big reveal. It’s a tough line to toe: a villain whose motives are understandable even relatable. We don’t hate him, but Keaton’s performance is menacing delivering a twisted version of the relatable values he shares with the hero. .
The Humor, the Grounded Setting and the Action
Not that it should be all that surprising, but this isn’t just the funniest Spider-Man movie. It is one of the funniest Marvel movies to date. That says a lot since Ant-Man has an Academy-Award-winning writer (Adam McKay). Every character gets a moment to get a laugh, including Peter and Ned’s darkly strange, oddly sarcastic Michelle (Zendaya and more on her later). Every character, even the most minor, such as Hannibal Buress’ Coach Wilson, get a good laugh. It is Ned who shines brightest in every scene, especially when he’s wearing his Indiana Jones’ fedora.
The grounded setting of Queens is what made Spider-Man work so well because that’s who Spider-Man always is: a kid looking out for the little guys in his borough. And the action … it was perfectly handled by a director in his first go around with major action sequences.here are a few that stand out, the Staten Island Ferry being my favorite.
New Minor Characters with Minor Screen Time
What’s interesting about Spiderman: Homecoming is that it took a lot more of Spidey’s world and brought it to the MCU. While the new Venom movie will reportedly NOT be in the MCU, the Sinister Six was still teased in the mid-credits scene by Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) aka The Scorpion.
Other Spidey lore is teased, but the actors are given frustratingly small amount of screen time. Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community) plays Aaron Davis aka The Prowler in the Ultimate Marvel comics. Davis says “I have a nephew who lives around here” when he helps Spider-Man. That nephew is Miles Morales! If you don’t know, Miles Morales is a character that takes over for Spider-Man after Peter Parker dies in the comics. Anyway, Glover has a scene and a half, at best. I wanted a little bit more. Martin Starr (Silicon Valley) is also underused as Peter’s academic decathlon coach. Half the time Aunt May was a voice off screen. Burress had two lines — both funny, but he looked like he slept walk through them. Or does he always look like that?
And once Ned unlocks the “training wheels” program off the Spidey suit, it has its own A.I. that Peter names Karen and is voiced by Jennifer Connelly. She’s there until Stark takes the suit back, so she’s also a flash in the pan. We only get a glimpse at what may be the Iron Spider armor.
Lack of cameos/More Easter Eggs
There were good cameos. Yet, they still seemed lacking considering most every Marvel character in the MCU is hanging around filming 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan does have more than a cameo, certainly larger than Pepper Potts’ (Gwyneth Paltrow). Captain America (Chris Evans) probably has the best running gag of the film. Funny PSA videos the high schoolers are constantly re-shown. And if you blink, you’ll miss pictures of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in Peter’s science class and older Howard Stark (John Slattery) on a mural inside the school.
There are plenty of Easter Eggs, but there could have been more. MY favorite, however, has to be Peter Parker’s principal being played by Kenneth Choi. We last saw that actor in the MCU as one of The Howling Commando’s, Jim Morita. That’s right: Choi had an I’m my own grandpa moment.
Also, the mascot at Peter’s school, Midtown School of Science and Technology is the Tigers, which leads us to ...
Michelle played by Zendaya is...yep, M.J.
Sort of. Zendaya’s Michelle delivers this throw-away line before the movie wraps up. “My friends call me M.J.” However, it seems that she’s not THE Mary Jane Watson. Kevin Feige and the producers just thought it be a fun homage to the comics. But come on. We nerds want the feisty red head back in Peter’s life as well as ours.
What did you think of Spiderman: Homecoming? Join our discussion on Facebook.