We are not even past two decades into 21st century and we have already got three different iterations of Spider-Man on the silver screen. The first one was one of the earliest examples of its genre that paved the groundwork for modern superhero features. Helmed by Sam Raimi & starring Tobey Maguire as your friendly neighbourhood, it was a towering success that turned into a successful trilogy but when Raimi left the project citing creative differences, Sony Pictures decided to push the restart button instead of green-lighting the next instalment.
The reboot made its way into cinemas in 2012, perhaps a tad too quickly, and with another origin story that wasn’t very different from its decade old counterpart. Marc Webb was chosen for this honour while Andrew Garfield donned the spidey suit but it finally premiered, there wasn’t one thing that was amazing about The Amazing Spider-Man, and its sequel was even more awful. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was a misfire & an absolute mess but this rebooted series managed to fare even worse than that. So, like before, the slate was wiped clean for yet another reboot.
But there is something different about this third attempt. Marvel Studios, which is ushering in the era of comic book superheroes with its hugely successful & widely imitated cinematic universe, intended to induct Spider-Man into its established franchise. And an agreement between the two studios eventually made it possible, thus making the web-slinging superhero the latest member of the Avengers family. And this solo feature is homecoming in the best ways possible. The film is as much Sony’s as it is Marvel’s but without the latter, it would have no valid reason to exist.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is indeed a welcome homecoming for Spider-Man, not to mention a long-overdue one. Taking Peter Parker back to high-school, not bothering to tell another origin story about how he became Spider-Man, and integrating the movie into Marvel Cinematic Universe quite seamlessly, the sixteenth instalment in this particular universe and fourth film of their Phase Three plan, this second reboot of the Spider-Man franchise is a wonderfully balanced, delightfully light-hearted & thoroughly entertaining summer blockbuster that commences Spidey’s new journey on a promising note.
Following the internal dispute between the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, in which he participated from Tony Stark’s side, Spider-Man: Homecoming finds Peter Parker back in high-school yet restless for another mission to showcase his web-slinging talents despite being told by Stark that he isn’t ready to become an Avenger yet. Trying to balance his life as an ordinary high-school student & fighting crime in the costume, Parker finally senses an opportunity to prove his worth to his mentor when a new threat emerges but in his heroic attempt to stop the new villain, he risks everything that he holds dear.
Directed by John Watts, one of the best things about Spider-Man: Homecoming is how it handles Peter Parker’s arc. Keeping all the usual traits of a 15-year old in tact, be it their naive behaviour or excitement & curiosity for new stuff or eagerness to prove their mettle despite not being mature enough to handle it wisely, the movie captures all of it & more in a way that’s relatable yet offers plenty of laughs along the way. The spidey suit also gets a major upgrade, with advanced tech & slick features embedded in the costume, more of which will hopefully be explored in the later instalments. In short, the director delivers what was asked from him.
The screenplay doesn’t pack an origin story in the traditional sense but it is all about the kid in the costume, his school life, his heroics & his attempts to balance both. The supporting characters aren’t mere cardboard cutouts and a couple of them make the most of their limited screentime. Even the antagonist gets an interesting background, which makes his actions somewhat understandable, at least to an extent. Tony Stark surfaces sparingly but his infectious presence does loom over the entire production. However, despite its impressive first act & never-ending barrage of humour, the film eventually heads into a familiar territory after the halfway mark.
Making the most of its locations, the movie is able to carve some genuinely hilarious moments every now n then, and keeps its energetic vibe alive for the majority of its runtime. Cinematography keeps images bright & shiny with its radiant colour palette & fine lighting, and although camera movements are smooth & serviceable, it misses out on the opportunity to experiment with clever angles & better placements. Editing makes sure that the viewers’ interest is maintained from beginning to end but begins losing its grip in the second half. And Michael Giacchino commences the film with an exciting mix of a recognisable tune but its later tracks aren’t that memorable.
Coming to the performances, Spider-Man: Homecoming features a fresh ensemble in Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Zendaya & Marisa Tomei, with Robert Downey Jr. reprising his role of Tony Stark. Taking inspiration from both Maguire & Garfield’s take on Spider-Man/Peter Parker, in addition to preparations of his own, Holland delivers a show-stealing performance and absolutely nails his role, both in & out of the suit, as if he was born to play this iconic character. And he’s well supported by Batalon who plays his best friend Ned, and gets to have moments of his own. Keaton is in as the villain and does well with what he’s given, while Downey Jr. cameos are brief yet magnetic.
On an overall scale, Spider-Man: Homecoming knocks The Amazing Spider-Man series into oblivion, and is the best Spider-Man film since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. What benefits the movie most is the boyish charm of Tom Holland, for this young actor not only looks & sounds right for the part but also embodies that teenage spirit, as evident in his swashbuckling performance that’s got just the right amount of impatience, cockiness, wit, passion & charisma, and his impressive input makes this reboot work on so many levels. Intriguing, interesting & invigorating in more ways than one, and with a promise of better things to come, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fresh, funny & fascinating extravaganza that finally brings its eponymous superhero into Marvel’s ever-expanding universe, and is far better than it had any right to be.