So here we have it, the first solo picture for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Well, it’s labeled a solo film, but in reality, there’s a little bit of Iron Man to help out ol’ Web-head. There are his friends, his Aunt May, and then there’s a small bunch of bad guys for our Wall-crawler to slap around.
Having debuted in last year’s huge Captain America: Civil War ensemble effort, Spidey is now taking center-stage in the hotly-anticipated Spider-Man: Homecoming. With former Batman Michael Keaton on board as the nefarious Adrian Toomes, aka the villainous Vulture, Spidey has his work cut out for him as he has to battle the regular, everyday problems of being a teenager whilst also taking down a rogue powered by leftover Chitauri technology.
Despite many of us having been left burnt by the hugely disappointing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, any who were fearing that this latest cinematic incarnation of Spider-Man would prove to be a similar dud needn’t worry. To put it simply, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a stunning movie that hits each and every beat of what a Spider-Man film should be. That’s not to say there aren't a few slight niggles, mind you.
And so, here are 13 things that Homecoming absolutely nailed and 5 things that left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth.
18 Blow Your Mind: The Parker Luck
A long-running theme in the history of Peter Parker and Spider-Man is the famed ‘Parker luck.’
For those not familiar with this phrase, it basically just means that poor Peter just has all kinds of really, really, really bad luck. As in, all the time. As in, at the most unfortunate times. No matter what he does or how hard he tries, there are just moments when Peter Parker simply cannot catch a break.
And in Homecoming, that Parker luck is well and truly present, with Tom Holland’s Peter struggling to keep his head above water on a whole variety of fronts, all whilst trying to be the hero and save the day. Again, this is something that's only further added an ‘everyman’ feel to Spider-Man in the comic book world, and it’s something that did the same here, with it another way to get you firmly behind Spidey as he has to face several uphill battles.
17 Blow Your Mind: The Use Of Tony Stark
If there was one major concern going into Spider-Man: Homecoming, it was that many fans thought Spidey would be left in the shade as a consequence of including Iron Man in the film. With all of the trailers placing Tony Stark front-and-center in the action of the movie, it seemed as if we were basically going to get a straight-up team-up picture.
Luckily, this wasn’t the case, and the Stark character was used in a perfect way. Despite what those trailers had you thinking, Stark never took over the film or took the spotlight from Spider-Man. Instead, Robert Downey Jr.’s Shellhead was used in a small-yet-pivotal role, serving as a mentor but never hijacking the film or taking away from the fact that this is very much Tom Holland and Peter Parker’s movie.
16 Sucked: The Need To Include Stark
Sure, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was used in a clever, meaningful way in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but couldn’t we just have a Spider-Man film that was purely about Spider-Man?
With the advertisement and promotional materials for the film putting Iron Man front-and-center alongside Spidey, it served to make it look as if Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures were scared that the movie might bomb if Tom Holland’s Wall-crawler was left to anchor the picture on his own.
You could’ve easily done a movie in which Spider-Man is the only hero present, but instead, it was felt that the film needed the added gloss of an established Avenger. In fairness, this angle was played well in terms of the story, but many took umbrage with the announcement of RDJ’s involvement, and it made it look like a desperate ploy to help support and prop up another attempt at bringing Spidey to the big screen.
15 Blow Your Mind: Addressing The Web Issue
For anyone who’s ever played any sort of Spider-Man video game, you’ve likely had this conversation time and time again with your friends, family, or partners. You know... the one where you’re playing the game, swinging away with your webs, only for someone to chirp up and question where exactly those webs are landing given how there are no buildings or landmarks in sight.
This isn’t something strictly tied to video games, for the same principle can be applied to pretty much all of the animated Spidey series over the decades.
In Homecoming, this issue was addressed in a smart and funny way, with Peter being stranded out in a rural setting with no buildings around – thus, he had to comically make a run for it rather than swing along on his trusty webs.
14 Blow Your Mind: Michael Keaton Is Chilling
When the cat is out of the bag and Peter realises that Liz Allan’s pops is none other than the Vulture, it doesn’t take long for this villain himself to piece the puzzle together and realise that the boy taking his daughter to prom is actually the same Wall-crawler who's been bugging him for the past few days.
From there, there’s a hugely powerful scene that takes place as Toomes and Peter share an intense conversation before Parker heads off to (briefly) party with his pals. In that entire car journey, we’re treated to a sequence that's up there as arguably the most chilling moment we’ve seen to date in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Michael Keaton is absolutely pants-fittingly sinister, and the interaction between him and Tom Holland oozes tension and has an underbelly of true knuckle-whitening terror.
13 Blow Your Mind: The Opening Tune
It’s vital with a movie to try and grab the audience’s attention from the get-go. That can come in a whole wide variety of ways, but the way in which Spider-Man: Homecoming did this was to open the film with a familiar tune.
As the flipping pages Marvel logo did its thing, a delicate, orchestral take on the classic Spider-Man theme tune of old can be heard playing. It was subtle, it was simple, but it immediately grabbed your attention and instantly put a smile on the faces of longtime fans of the Wall-crawler.
With the last three solo Spidey pictures – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 and Marc Webb’s two Amazing Spider-Man movies – having disappointed fans, utilizing this classic tune was a nice and easy way of getting doubters on board once again.
12 Sucked: Formulaic
One of the few criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date is that they all follow a very similar paint-by-numbers formula. And sadly, that’s again the case with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
This isn’t just a problem with these Marvel movies, for near-enough any picture of a similar ilk has the same structure in place. Basically, the hero of the piece is flying high and life is good in the first act. From there, the second act sees said hero down and out as he has to reassess his plan of attack and his mindset. And then comes the third act, in which the hero manages to come through and save the day.
Iron Man did it. The Incredible Hulk did it. Thor did it. Captain America: The First Avenger did it. You get the idea... and every MCU movie since then has done the same. It’s hard to levy too much criticism at Spider-Man: Homecoming for this, for the film makes its journey constantly engaging, but it's still something that grinds the gears of some fans.
11 Blow Your Mind: Peter’s School Pals
One of the things that will have longtime Spider-Man fans grinning ear to ear throughout Homecoming is Peter’s classmates. What’s most rewarding for said Spidey fans is the fact that the characters who get to shine aren’t your usual Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, or Flash Thompson.
All three of those characters have been seen previously on the big screen in some significant roles, but in Homecoming, it’s all kinds of cool and refreshing to see Ned Leeds have such a big role to play. Then there’s the use of Liz Allan as the love interest, plus a young Betty Brant anchoring the local school news reports. Sure, Flash was indeed present this time out, too, but even he was used in a way that felt different to the stereotypical jock we’ve seen him portrayed as in previous Spidey flicks.
Given the roles that Ned, Liz, Betty, and even Flash go on to have in the comic book Marvel world, seeing these characters getting some time to shine was a clever move.
10 Sucked: May Finding Out
The final seconds of Homecoming left audiences chuckling into their popcorn, and it was a brilliantly played and timed scene, but the simple fact of the matter is that Aunt May now knows that Peter Parker is indeed Spider-Man.
One of the big complaints about Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man trilogy was that Spidey made a far too frequent habit of removing his mask or having people find out who he was. And here in Homecoming, whilst the scene itself was funny, it was also disappointing to have the series jump the gun already and have May learn that Peter is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
The classic way of handling this problem was often to have it insinuated that May knew that Peter was Spidey but that she’d never let Peter know that she knew. To have this cat out of the bag already in the MCU, again, it’s something that seems too rushed.
9 Blow Your Mind: The Teenage Exuberance
Standing out as one of the most enjoyable and engaging elements of the first solo movie for Tom Holland’s Wall-crawler is quite simply the teenage excitement and exuberance shown by the titular Peter Parker.
What made Spider-Man such an appealing character in the comics over the years was how he was merely a regular teenager with regular teenage problems… but obviously, he just happened to have these amazing superpowers. People can relate to the problems of homework, of trying to help his dear old aunt, and also, when all is said and done, just how damn exciting and exhilarating it is to be in possession of these abilities and to be swinging from rooftop to rooftop.
In Homecoming, director Jon Watts and his team absolutely nail how a regular teenager just couldn’t contain his excitement at being given such a gift.
8 Blow Your Mind: The Wisecracks
Throughout the decades, one of the staples of Spider-Man is always his ability to quip wise at any and every opportunity, regardless of how bad the situation is. Sure, it might get annoying and irritating at times, but that’s kinda the point. After all, if you’re one of the no-good bad guys battling ol’ Web-head, then there could surely be nothing worse than having your opponent spouting constant wisecracks at you while he’s pummeling your face.
With Homecoming, the minds behind the movie manage to get just the right amount of wisecracks and quips in amongst the action, neither minimizing the sharp mouth of Spidey nor overdoing it to the point that it starts to grate on the audience.
Granted, Deadpool may be fondly known as the Merc with a Mouth, but he’s got nothing on Peter Parker.
7 Blow Your Mind: The Suit
A key element of any take on Spider-Man is and always will be the look of this longtime Marvel hero. If a depiction gets the visual presentation of Spidey wrong, then that’s an instant turn-off and makes it hard to get behind that particular Wall-crawler regardless of how great his story is.
Luckily, Spider-Man: Homecoming gets the look of Spidey perfect for what it needs to be. From a quick glance, it instantly conjures up memories of classic Steve Ditko-drawn Spider-Man from decades gone by, yet there’s a whole lot more going on than just paying homage to a classic look for Web-head. Instead, Homecoming takes this classic design and breathes new life into it in a way that sees it fit in perfectly with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which this new Spider-Man exists in.
Now, some may think that there’s maybe a little too much going on with this Spidey suit in terms of technology, but it’s a great balance of classic appeal with a modern twist.
6 Blow Your Mind: The Bond Between Peter And May
Many were a little unhappy when Marisa Tomei was cast as Aunt May. After all, May has traditionally been an old lady in the shape of a loving grandmother. Instead, Tomei, who is currently 52 years of age, added a whole new sex appeal to the character – as referenced by Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War and here in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Whilst Oscar-winner Tomei may indeed be a little different to how many envision Aunt May, what she does bring to the table in Homecoming is a real sense of a sincere and genuine bond with Peter. Don’t get me wrong -- there are moments when she’s not afraid to call out her nephew when he’s being a bit of an ass, but when it comes down to it, you really do get the sense of just how much this pair have been through together and how much that all they have left is each other.
5 Blow Your Mind: The Mac Gargan Teaser
Mac who? For those not well-versed in the comic book lore of Spider-Man and his cast of villains, the mention of Mac Gargan may have completely passed you by and not registered as anything noteworthy. For those eagle-eared Spidey fans out there, though, Mac Gargan will instantly set alarm bells ringing.
At first, Gargan was mentioned and briefly shown as one of the Vulture’s goons during the ferry scene. He’d then also turn up in the post-credits scene, which gave us a glimpse at the scorpion tattoo that this no-good criminal has on his neck. And that’s a hugely relevant piece of detail.
In the comic book world, Gargan is better known by the villainous moniker of Scorpion – a rogue with a badass protective costume and the ability to fire projectiles out of his ‘tail.’ Gargan would also later become Venom and even have a brief stint posing as Spider-Man.
What was best about Mac Gargan in Homecoming, though, was how subtle his appearance was handled… which is a massive change from how ham-fisted The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was in how it teased other villains.
4 Blow Your Mind: The Decision To Turn Down The Avengers
Throughout the whole of Spider-Man: Homecoming, we saw a Peter Parker desperate to get the magic call to go along and join the big leagues of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Putting off his social life and his school life all down to the hope that Tony Stark will hit him up and set him to work on a new mission, it seems at times that this is a true obsession of young Peter's.
So, to see Parker turn down the opportunity to become a card-carrying member of the Avengers at the close of the film, that was a true masterstroke. No longer is Spider-Man simply a fanboy for the likes of Captain America and Iron Man; instead, he has the recognition that he’s good enough to be held in the same high esteem, but he more importantly realises the importance of further developing his skills and making sure that Queens and beyond are safe on a purely street level.
It’s this humility and maturity that has you rooting even more for ol’ Web-head and shows a huge progression in the Peter Parker character from the start to the finish of Homecoming.
3 Blow Your Mind: Tom Holland
At one point in time, it seemed as if Ender’s Game’s Asa Butterfield was a lock to land the Spider-Man gig – and then Tom Holland came from nowhere and nabbed the role for himself. Sure, Holland’s brief Spidey appearance in Captain America: Civil War stole the show, but how was this latest cinematic Wall-crawler going to cope with his first solo picture?
It turns out that Holland managed absolutely fine. In fact, he completely smashed it out of the park.
Bringing a sense of awe, excitement, exuberance, and heart to the role in Homecoming, the talented young Englishman proved that he was a fantastic choice for the job and that he can effortlessly headline such a huge movie and a tentpole franchise.
Tom Holland as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man just feels natural and as if the comic book Spider-Man has been truly brought to life in a way that's amazing, spectacular, and even superior to what has gone before.
2 Sucked: Karen
In case you’ve not guessed by now, there are very few things that you could really say to tarnish Spider-Man: Homecoming. One thing that will rub some longer-standing fans the wrong way, though, is the use of Karen.
Of course, Karen is the name given to the robotic system installed in Spidey’s costume in the movie. Whilst an advanced tech system was indeed in place during the Civil War comic arc in which Peter sides with Tony Stark and is given a special Stark-created outfit, it felt strange to see an AI present in what looks visually like a classic Spidey suit.
Again, Karen was actually handled well as a concept, but it was something that didn’t really need to be put in place in the first place and felt a little too advanced for this point in the game.
1 Sucked: MJ
In the build up to Spider-Man: Homecoming, we all heard the rumors that Zendaya's mysterious 'Michelle' character could well actually turn out to be Mary Jane Watson. Those rumors were constantly shot down by all involved with the production, and it was said adamantly that Mary Jane would not be a part of Homecoming in any shape or form.
Instead, what we ended up getting was a line of dialogue from Michelle at the end of the film where she simply makes mention about how her friends call her MJ - the short nickname given to the comic book character who would eventually marry Peter Parker.
It seems a little too convoluted and nonsensical to have Michelle's real name be Mary Jane Watson, so this use of the MJ nickname seemed like nothing more than the filmmakers' ways of grabbing the ire of longtime fans and leaving them shaking their heads at the screen in the same way that John Blake's real name was revealed as Robin in The Dark Knight Rises.
Sources: Marvel, Wikipedia