Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Next Reboot
– A Hero Corner review by David 2
One of the big problems that Almighty Marvel had when they launched their cinematic universe a decade ago was that they couldn’t use some of their biggest characters. Back when Marvel was trying to stave off bankruptcy, they sold the film rights to their biggest characters to various groups. Universal bought Ghost Rider. 20th Century Fox bought the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Sony bought Spider-Man. So when Marvel created Marvel Studios, they could only use the characters they still owned all the rights to.
Thankfully, with the money and power of Disney at their disposal, Almighty Marvel has been able to get back their favorite characters, starting with Spider-Man and his appearance in “Captain America: Civil War”.
But this isn’t the same Spider-Man from the Sam Rami trilogy, or even the two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies. No, this is something else. We have a Spider-Man who is still a high school teenager, living with his beautiful Aunt May, and who is still just starting as a superhero. We caught a glimpse of this in “Civil War” and by the end-credits, we see he is about to go to the next step under the mentoring of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.
Or… something like that.
“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a 2017 joint production by Sony and Marvel Studios. It stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Robert Downey Jr., and the voice of Jennifer Connelly. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Evans have a brief appearance in it as well as, of course, the legendary Stan Lee.
We start with New York City not long after “The Avengers”. A local crew led by Adrian Toomes (Keaton) is cleaning up the Chitauri wreckage from the destruction caused by their invasion when their contract is taken away from them by a government organization called “The Department of Damage Control”. Toomes learns that this operation is run through the government by Tony Stark, which makes him upset because it seems Stark has taken away a lot of jobs that Toomes and the others used to have. As they’re leaving, they manage to slip away some of the alien technology, which they plan to use to make advanced weapons.
Eight years later, we see Happy (Favreau) bring an awestruck Peter Parker (Holland) to Germany, which he videotapes through his phone. This includes his participation in “Civil War” where he is fighting against Captain America and his half of the Avengers. Afterwards he is sent home with orders from Stark (Downey Jr.) to pretty much be more of a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”.
Peter then spends time being that “friendly neighborhood” hero, all the while continually calling Stark and asking about when he’ll be getting more Avengers assignments. Returning from one adventure, his best friend Ned (Batalon) learns his secret identity and he is eager to help Peter be a superhero and also to go out with a girl named Liz. His promised appearance at a party as Spider-Man leads him to investigate a weapons deal by one of Toomes’ associates. Parker tries to stop the deal, but is captured by Toomes wearing his own flying armor known as “The Vulture”. Parker almost drowns but is saved by Iron Man.
Peter learns that Stark put in a tracker in the Spider-Man suit, which was how Stark found him so quickly. He disables the tracker and accidentally unlocks the suit’s advanced features, including his own artificial intelligence assistant (Connelly), whom he names Karen. An accidental stay in one of the DODC warehouses causes Peter to bond with Karen and learn more about the suit. He uses what he knows about the suit to save his fellow students when one of the Chitauri devices detonates inside the Washington Monument. Later, back in NYC, he stops Toomes from selling weapons to another person, but Toomes manages to split the ferry they were on in half. Spider-Man does everything he can to keep the boat together, but it takes help from Iron Man again. A very angry Stark takes Peter’s suit away as punishment.
Peter tries to be just an ordinary student again, but he discovers that Liz’s father is Toomes, and Toomes realizes that Peter is Spider-Man. He threatens Peter and tells him to stop getting in his way. Toomes then begins his plan to hurt Tony Stark as all his technology from the old Avengers Tower is being relocated to the new base.
I’ll leave it here, lest I spoil anything really good.
This is clearly nothing like any previous incarnation of Spider-Man. We got a taste of it during “Civil War”, but even that couldn’t prepare us for all the changes. Bringing in Michael Keaton, best known for being Batman, as the villain Vulture was a smart move. Keaton knows how to be dangerous, and it certainly came out here. Robert Downey Jr. once again plays Stark as a whiny little bitch, but now a bitch who can’t mentor worth crap, and it shows. But, in doing so, it allows Peter to be a better hero on his own. Oh, and guys, the next time you hire Jon Favreau to play Happy, please have him direct as well. He seems to be a better Happy when he is also the director.
The biggest changes are in the supporting cast, including adding Ned and changing who Liz and “MJ” are. And, of course, having Marisa Tomei as Aunt May is probably the weirdest of changes. Comic fans are used to seeing Aunt May as a kindly elderly woman. Not someone that would get Tony Stark interested in her bad cooking.
In all, this is a good – not great – movie. Good in terms of bringing Spider-Man into the MCU during “Phase Three”, but not great as, say, the MCU during “Phase One”. And still better than a dancing Toby McGuire in “Spider-Man 3”.