Best and Worst of Spider-man: Homecoming
Now this is going to be a bit spoiler heavy so I'll included a specific section at the end of the BEST and WORST. I love Spider-man, like a lot of people do, he is the ultimate nerdy kid wishfulfillment superhero. I was looking forward to a new Spider-man movie and afterwards (including a second watch) I certainly felt different that Justin on this one and felt it was worth discussing.
This film has quite a lot of clever jokes in it that I enjoyed. He has a few misfires early on catching criminals that aren't actually criminals. There is a cute nod to Ferris Bueller and he has some kinda funny moments that showcase why even as Spider-man things don't always go so smoothly. It's not a laugh out loud riot but it puts in some genuinely funny moments that keep things light and fun. The Captain America School PSAs, those were a stroke of genius, giving us the brilliant line in response to the Cap Fitness Test video from the PE teacher "I think he is a war criminal now but the state wants you do this fitness test thing so let's go".
I liked the fact that aside from the Vulture being a big mech suited bird, the film was pretty down to earth. There were gadgets and stuff but for the most part, it felt like a story set in New York and didn't have to concern itself with getting to mystical or magical. They know that this isn't the movie to do that with, bring on the science and tech and leave the magic behind.
Flash is a grade A jerk in the film and rather than it be that he is a jock, he is on the same decathlon team as Peter and tries to be smarter than him while still calling him "Penis Parker". It's a nice twist on an outdated character. He uses taunts to get under Peter's skin not strength and it in turn puts Peter's identity as Spider-man into play. He has a moment where he wants to prove that he knows Spider-man but more important, dangerous things get in the way of him being able to be cool socially and says "being Spider-man isn't a party trick" which was about the most grown up thing he does in the whole film.
The whole beginning sequence where we see Peter recording his path to the airport in Civil War was hilarious and gave such life to the character. He is a kid that gets to work with the Avengers and he wants to capture every second of it. It was a clever way to do such a scene, highlighting just how happy he is to be Spider-man. It runs just long enough to enjoy it before cutting back to real life.
While the first half of the film sets up the Vulture as just a guy who is part of a salvage team who turns to the selling of alien tech to get by after his company loses it's lucrative contract to clean up New York City after the battle of New York to Damage Control owned in part by Tony Stark, it set things up for him to be more of an Iron Man villain than a Spider-man one. However the twist that comes towards the end of the film is something that came out of left field for I think just about everyone who saw it. Peter's homecoming date and girl he has been crushing on, Liz. is the daughter of Adrian "The Vulture" Toomes. When Adrian meets Peter, he doesn't know it's him but Peter does and since Adrian offers to give them a ride to the dance the tension slowly ratchets up as he comes to realize who exactly Peter is culminating in a scene that was probably the best in the whole movie. Adrian threatens Peter and tells him to not come after him ever again and to make sure he treats his daughter well. This was a great set up and gave the two of them a personal connection that deepened The Vulture's relationship with Peter so quickly that it turned an otherwise average bad guy into something a bit more sinister.
This was a cool surprise at the end of the film. Rather than being the cool girl who is out to be an actress and someone Peter has been fawning over, she is the quiet one in the background secretly crushing on Peter and being a sort of mysterious and aloof girl who is clearly just enamored with Peter and disguises it with being a shy weirdo who sketches people during detention. It was again a cool twist on a familiar character who isn't officially Mary Jane Watson but one I look forward to seeing what it is they do with her in the future films.
Ned was super annoying. He had to play the comic relief to Peter Parker, who is already kind of a goofball in his own right and it just made him stick out like a sore thumb. I thought we have learned that we don't need the funny fat friend anymore. He has his moments like any decent character does and you can see why they are friends but he feels like he is in a pure comedy instead of an action comedy which can be rather off putting at times.
Unfortunately aside from a pretty cool elevator rescue it falls short in terms of actions having anything in the way of stakes. Spider-man does get in a spot of bother a few times that made it interesting but nothing stood out to me as a great moment where Spider-man's powers were utilized well. Unlike the masterclass that was Civil War in superhero action.
This version of Spider-man was one I had a tough time getting behind. He is just too silly for my liking. I felt the same way in Civil War, he is just having too much of a good time. I'm fine with a little bit of fun, I mean he is SPIDER-MAN but it almost feels like the whole "With great power comes great responsibility" goes right out the window. That is the core of that character, he has these powers and he needs to understand that what he does matters and I never felt that with his character. It also felt like they were just so cautious to not do what has been done before to the point of not giving us the chance to go and really dig deep into his relationships with any one character. Also, any good villain challenges the hero by making them learn something new and use that knowledge to defeat the villain while appealing to their humanity hopefully. That kind of happens when it seems as though he is in over his head and has to pull himself up with no help but they still go the grit route with it after. He just goes in guns blazing in hopes to take the Vulture down like a reckless kid.
Tony Stark basically gives Peter a suped up version of his suit and with the "Training Wheels Protocol" on. That was a good idea as we got to see a normal Spider-man, even if he didn't make the suit himself, he does tinker with the web fluid though. It's when he goes against the rules and hacks the suit to allow full control that it bothered me. Sure it was fun to see all the little things he could do with a Tony Stark Spidey suit but he NEVER got in trouble having access to something he shouldn't have had access to. There is an instant kill mode! On a Spider-man suit! Not to mention a whole host of things he knows nothing about, and somehow because he ends up trapped somewhere for a half hour or so he is able to figure it all out and then continue like it's no big deal? That was a missed opportunity for a lesson he should have learned. We needed the Simba/Mufasa moment. Just because Tony is in the Avengers doesn't mean he goes looking for trouble, that is the talk Tony needs to have with Peter early and take that suit away in the first 1/3 , not the last.
Double Life Juggling
We get way too much time having Peter being Spider-man. All his problems as Peter are so small to him and the needs of others so great, we don't get to see that personal life struggle very much. I mean it is there and there is some relationship damage but with the inclusion of Ned filling screen time as a needless sidekick it took away from any sort of heart this movie could have had with other characters. No helping Aunt May with things at home, no outside force saying what a menace Spider-man is and wanting to prove them wrong. Sure he gets in a bit of trouble at school but nothing major. He looks kinda bummed out from time to time but I personally never felt sorry for him. The marginalized kid wasn't all that marginalized, he could talk to girls, get them to go on dates and have a fun time but then get pulled away to do Spider-man things. Flash is really the only one to give him a hard time and he's just a bully. He lives in a world where nothing seems to have an impact on his life. He is just split between the two worlds and is going with the motions, complaining he can't be a big boy.
And when Tony does try to teach him a lesson by taking the suit away it takes away from it being his own decision which we may have already seen before but proves to be the more powerful decision. He doesn't want to give up the suit, he just loses it for a while until he can do things on his own without the tech, something I thought was cool and led to a strong scene in him going from a kid yelling for help to one where he knew he was on his own and needed to help himself out of the situation he was in. I applaud the end where he comes to realize that he isn't ready for the big leagues but even that is undercut with Peter being "That was a test right?", that scene would have stuck better without that line. It was supposed to be the journey from Spider-boy to Spider-man and I just didn't feel it.
This wasn't the home run I think many people claim it to be. I had some decent expectations with the movie, I was hoping for a good Spider-man movie and what we got was instead a generic Marvel film. Nothing that makes Spider-man particularly special stood out in this film. It has some good laughs, a solid villain that turned into a pretty good one. There was a bit too much silliness and not enough personal stakes and consequences for my taste and that kept it from being something great. And in case you were wondering, I'd give Spider-man: Homecoming a C. An average film that could lead into something better in the future.