Spider-Man: Homecoming had us waiting with bated breath following Peter Parker’s introduction to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, where he helped Team Stark fight Team Cap. Tom Holland was charged with reinvigorating the character, with this being the second reboot of the franchise. Jon Watts (Clown, Cop Car) was given the task of directing it and he clearly went in the direction of youth, and coming-of-age stories. He wanted a love letter to the ’80s and ’90s, but more so, he wanted something endearing to mark Sony’s continued partnership with Marvel Studios.
Heavy marketing aside, there aren’t many comic fans who would avoid this film, and rightfully so. Spidey is an iconic character and Watts brings in a ton of new faces, especially on the villainous side, while prepping Spidey under the mentorship of Iron Man for the big days ahead, particularly when Thanos comes to Earth in Avengers: Infinity War. After the Avengers fractured and Spidey proved to be quite a resilient warrior, he came back home and is now adjusting to life as a full-fledged superhero. As great as it was, the movie’s plot isn’t without its flaws; in fact, it has as many pros as it does cons. That’s why CBR decided to look at both ends of the spectrum, to break down the good, the bad and the Spidey!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: Homecoming
15. DIDN’T WORK: VITAMIN STARK
Spider-Man really needs to be his own man and not this doe-eyed teen who was constantly desperate for Stark’s approval. We knew that the mentor aspect would be played up in a similar fashion to the Civil War comics, but this movie was very formulaic in the way it hinged on the Stark factor.
It revolved around Spidey trying to impress the boss, mucking things up and then getting scolded for it. He would then promise not to do it again, only to repeat the entire cycle. This scenario happened a couple times, until the end where the only thing that changed was that he struggled to beat the Vulture. All Stark’s chats with Peter, even when Happy Hogan entered the fray, took away from the youngster’s identity and the heart of the character. It was Stark saturation, reminding us a bit too much of the MCU drama.
14. WORKED: THE VILLAINS
This movie managed to get the multiple villains balance down just right, making up for the cluster-fest that we got in old franchise movies such as Spider-Man 3 from Sam Raimi and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from Marc Webb. Watts got things to work because he kept things simple — he didn’t need a tedious backstory for all the villains. They were all thugs with weapons except for Vulture.
Adrian Toomes (played by Michael Keaton) was the ringleader and mastermind, but still remained a family man you felt sorry for after Damage Control drove his clean-up company out of business following the events in 2012’s The Avengers. He then used the Tinkerer’s love of science to make weapons from all that the arms left behind in various battlefields, with a couple versions repurposed for the Shocker, his heavy-hitter(s). They were all relatable and felt like they had justifications for lashing out at society.
13. DIDN’T WORK: THE ROMANCE
Teenage romance can be done right, although it’s a bit trickier in comic book movies; we’re used to older characterizations from the books. Peter’s is a tough act to nail down because whether it be Gwen Stacy or Mary-Jane Watson, it involves a lot of substance. Sadly, all we get here is style. Watts channels his inner-Breakfast Club when instead of the ’80s, he should have been looking to Dawson’s Creek or Smallville.
Pete’s affection for Liz Allan turns out to be a cliched plot tool as she ends up being Toomes’ daughter. It was simply to add drama and force a big twist into their budding romance as Pete now had to go stop her father. She came off as a damsel in distress and at film’s end, a crutch. Once Toomes ended up in jail, she moved away without closure.
12. WORKED: THE MUSIC
Michael Giacchino is building quite a geek-resume, further enhanced by scoring Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last year. Here, he ups his game, first off with a rousing rendition of the ’60s Spidey theme song from the cartoon series, while also creating a musical backdrop meant for coming-of-age stories.
He blended in a musical bed of innocence, naïveté and action, to help Pete navigate fumbling through love and also, the quasi-titular Homecoming Dance. Giacchino added a lot of personality to the film that way, keeping it bubbly and quirky like in The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. Of course, he was also able to rough it up with the Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Bop,” adding that punk flair to New York to represent the revolution Spidey was starting. It truly was a delightful aspect of the film, keeping your head bobbing and foot tapping.
11. DIDN’T WORK: THE ACTION SEQUENCES
Watts was ambitious and went for spectacle, which made that scene with Spider-Man trying to hold the ferry together all the more awesome. It kept in line with the older films but where Homecoming proved to be a letdown was in the fight scenes. When Spidey took on the bank robbers disguised as the Avengers, it wasn’t anything that we didn’t see before. Webbing and fast-hands, that’s all.
Then when he squared off against the Shockers and Vulture himself, you were left wondering where the innovation went. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s depictions were so different yet felt like the webhead could brawl with the best. Holland’s iteration was still learning but after throwing down in Civil War, let’s just say his scrapping here left a lot to be desired. He took on Avengers but couldn’t handle super-powered thugs in scenes that felt poorly choreographed and edited.
10. WORKED: DIVERSE CAST
Having female leads of mixed ethnicity really showed Watts wanted to evolve the property. In addition to Laura Harrier’s Liz, we got Zendaya as Michelle, Jacob Batalon as Ned (Pete’s bestie) and Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson. We also saw New York’s Queens as a place for all walks of people from life, creating a truly cosmopolitan world for our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler to patrol.
This painted how society is today and it was especially powerful in a high-school setting seeing all these different kids of color interact. It paved the way for a big tease with Donald Glover’s Aaron Davis (who is the anti-hero known as Prowler in Marvel’s Ultimate comics) mentioning that he has a nephew that he wants to keep safe. That is none other than Miles Morales (the other Ultimate Spider-Man who’s now in the 616 comic universe) — reiterating Watts wants to add even more diversity to his corner of the MCU.
9. DIDN’T WORK: DISCARDING SPIDEY’S ORIGINS
This was flogged to death in the Raimi and Webb films but the origins could have easily been shown in a quick animated sequence or in flashbacks. It felt off hearing him just mention to Ned about the radioactive spider that bit him without getting insight as to where this happened, how it apparently died and just why Pete was the victim. Also, why did he become a superhero?
Common sense would tell us it had something to do with Uncle Ben’s death, as per the lore, but in Homecoming, we didn’t even get insight into his relationship with Ben. He hinted that Aunt May was having a hard time with it, so it must have been just before Stark recruited him, but Ben is a pillar that needs more than just a name-drop — especially with his mantra about power and responsibility. We needed these for Pete’s motives!
8. WORKED: THE EASTER EGGS
This movie paid a lot of homage to the MCU with several easter eggs towards the Avengers, especially Captain America, Hulk and Thor. We heard vibranium mentioned, Miles Morales was hinted at, so too were the Sinister Six, and we got throwbacks to the Chitauri, the Dark Elves and Crossbones in terms of weaponry. Also, Michelle revealed her nickname to be “MJ” which could mean Watts is subverting Mary-Jane!
Star Wars toys featured a lot and we also had Stan Lee popping up in a neighborly cameo. Pete also got an artificial intelligence buddy akin to JARVIS called KAREN (played by Jennifer Connelly). Principal Morita was also found to be a descendent of Jim from the Howling Commandos and we also saw Pete mimic that iconic Amazing Spider-Man #33 cover where he had to lift off rubble to survive. Watts really left us geeks a lot of nods!
7. DIDN’T WORK: A NOT-SO SECRET IDENTITY
In Raimi and Webb’s movies, Pete couldn’t keep his superhero activities a secret from those he loved and it often put them in danger. In this movie, you’d think Team Stark knowing would be enough, but no, Vulture ends up finding out which also led to another potential (and overdone) redemption route after our young hero saved his life from a fiery death and threw him in the slammer.
Ned also found out, mostly because Pete lacks a Spider-Sense and he ended up becoming the Oracle to Pete’s Batman. Who would have thought the day would come when Spidey needs a sidekick? This ended up being just as annoying as Toomes toying with Pete, and sending Shocker after him in a flash. Most ludicrous though is the movie’s final shot where Aunt May catches him suiting up, to which she has a literal WTF moment.
6. WORKED: THE SUPER SUIT
The reason this suit worked was because it taught him a much-needed lesson. Pete had a plethora of gadgets at his disposal, all courtesy of Stark, to the point where he was more Iron Man than Spider-Man. He got complacent, arrogant and lazy but in the meantime, it was a lot of fun watching him utilize what was at his disposal.
The Spider-Drone was awesome for surveillance, not to mention the various assortments of web deployment he had. It innovated and very much, updated the character. This would build him up as someone who didn’t rely on his most important asset — the heart inside. Having all of these taken away showed Pete that he had to dig deep. Also, this control felt like a narcissistic play from Stark, summarized by him wanting Pete to reveal himself to reporters. Luckily, that was replaced by a shotgun engagement to Pepper Potts!
5. DIDN’T WORK: THE FAMILY ASPECT
It was tough to get a sense of how Pete was brought up. Apart from the lack of Uncle Ben, we didn’t get to see Aunt May coping or struggling, which would have added a lot of context. Marisa Tomei is always compelling so we missed the chance to see her shine in the role and also, be more to Pete than a chauffeur. May’s been a role model in the comics and we hope she experiences some growth: individually and with her nephew.
Their relationship will surely be tested after the movie’s closing moments but outside of her dynamic with our hero, we’d love to get more background into his parents. We don’t need to harp on things like Webb did but Pete’s family includes blood, and not just friends at school. This overall sense of family was missing as Spidey came off like he just had accomplices.
4. WORKED: THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT
A hero is more than a suit and this was remarkably translated at the end when Pete had to fight justice back in his hoodie and old-school gear. Stark took his Civil War suit away after a series of mishaps, and Spidey realized he had to harness the energy from within because at the end of the day, it’s all about what’s inside.
It allowed a great transition from the smart-mouthed individual that fought Team Cap. Pete also realized there was more to him than met the eye. This allowed him to turn down what is assumed to be the Iron Spider suit at the film’s end because he believes in himself more; also, he wants to stay on the ground and rebuild the city on a ground level. This was the epitome of maturity.
3. DIDN’T WORK: FORCING THE AVENGERS ANGLE
The Avengers aspirational angle felt like overkill because Pete didn’t come off as someone who had his heart and soul in being a hero. The core of Spider-Man is a singular objective to keep New York safe and then the world, but here Watts keeps harping on about Pete being immature with that call-up to the big leagues.
It makes him seem childish and petty, which a teen is allowed, but it drives so much of the movie until the end. We do get to see him breaking out to be his own man but the overall plot felt diluted by the Avengers angle as this film was just one big trial. Spider-Man is more than someone hungry to come off the bench, and this exploration of what lies within is a trademark of the character. Thankfully Watts started focusing on the man, not the heroic moniker at the end.
2. WORKED: TOM HOLLAND’S PERFORMANCE
If it’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the baton has been passed to the right actor. Holland delivered a boss performance with a lot of character and charisma. His chemistry with everyone was amazing, bar that romance angle, and he showed that he could be playful yet virtuous and stoic. We loved how fallible he was but how eager he was to learn as well.
Holland’s Spidey was vulnerable, matching up what his predecessors did, but this time he had a pizzazz about him like what we’re used to in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics by Brian Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Mark Bagley and others. He’s clearly in love with the role off-screen as well and given his age, the MCU has the Spidey it deserves for some time to come. He’s fearless, action-centric and as funny as he can be, he is definitely a badass.
1. DIDN’T WORK: WHEN THE CREDITS ROLLED
The mid-credits scene felt a bit forced and could have easily been slipped into the final act because it focused on the aftermath of Vulture’s final battle with Spider-Man. Pete barely defeated Toomes and saved his life; we would have loved to see how he was faring in jail with his family moving to Oregon. The tense scene involved Mac Gargan (a.k.a. Scorpion) trying to find out Spidey’s identity so he could send thugs on the outside for him.
Vulture didn’t oblige but it hinted that Sony wants another Sinister Six arc as Tinkerer was still free. What further left fans frustrated was the post-credits scene that focused on yet another Captain America PSA. Only this time, he waxed on about patience and was clearly trolling the audience who stayed back to see the extra scene. Chris Evans even broke the fourth wall to rub salt in the wounds.
What did you think of Homecoming? Let us know in the comments what worked for you… and what didn’t!
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