The MCU's version of the webslinger has landed back in New York for his first solo outing. After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is keen to prove himself as an Avenger. But his mentor of sorts - Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) - wants the 15 year old to go back to school and learn what it means to be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man first. Peter is definitely a kid with a lot on his plate, on top of the usual issues a modern day teenage nerd faces, he's still learning the extent of his abilities and trying to impress Stark. All while trying to bring down a gang selling salvaged alien technology, led by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton).
Without giving us another origin story, Marvel have re-introduced us to the world of Spider-Man. Director Jon Watts has avoided the format of previous movies where the hero acquires his powers, goes through a quick montage to learn what he can do and from then on is unstoppable. What I really like about Homecoming is that as much as it's a superhero story, it's also a high school/coming of age story too. It's a movie about Peter, he's a kid, he's learning the extent of his abilities and he's trying to juggle his double life. Normally if you think of Spider-Man, you think of him swinging from the tower blocks of Manhattan or hanging from skyscrapers admiring the view. But here we get to see him apprehensive, scared even because he has never climbed to such heights. All of this is brought to the screen thanks to an excellent performance by Tom Holland.
In order to create Peter's world, inspiration was taken from the movies of John Hughes. As part of their preparation, the cast was given a list of Hughes' movies to watch, including Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club. Unlike previous webslinger movies, the cast actually look and act like school children. Not to mention the fact they're actually interesting, whereas in the Maguire and Garfield movies the school kids were of little relevance or interest. Peter's friend Ned (played brilliantly by Jacob Batalon) is an explosive bundle of energy when it comes to Peter's alter ego, on the one hand Ned wants to tell everyone in order to gain popularity, but on the other wants to be involved in the adventure as a sidekick/assistant.
Michael Keaton is currently enjoying a revival of his career and watching him play Adrian Toomes, it's easy to see why. His wingsuit looks great, bordering on terrifying when you combine it with that mask! They've done well to make it look different from Sam Wilson's, but at the same time it looks like Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus) - AKA The Tinkerer - drew inspiration from Sam's when designing it. Keaton brings depth to the character, he's not just a two dimensional bad guy. At first Toomes is a man you actually feel sorry for, he has been pushed too far and when an opportunity presents itself, he grabs on with both hands.
Robert Downey Jr. is on usual form as Tony Stark, this time in a supporting role, it's fun to watch his interesting approach to mentoring the young superhero. If Tony's the teacher, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is definitely the over worked Teaching Assistant/babysitter. I would like to have seen more of Marissa Tomei, she's great as Aunt May but isn't given enough to do. Thankfully it has been left open for Tomei to be more involved in future instalments.
After his introduction in Civil War, it's great to see Holland develop the character. Whereas Civil War was about Spider-Man, Homecoming is about Peter Parker and what it means to be Spider-Man. Jon Watts has done an incredible job with Homecoming, he has done for Spider-Man what James Gunn did for the Guardians of the Galaxy. It's just a shame that a great scene involving the Staten Island Ferry was spoiled by the trailers. But regardless of this, Watts has not only made the best Spider-Man movie in years, he has made the best one overall!
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