Maybe someone forgot to tell the Marvel studio’s mastermind, producer Kevin Feige, that he’s making superhero movies.
Deadpool and the Guardians of the Galaxy films are delightfully irreverent, sarcastic comedies, and Iron Man explored political and social issues most indie movies wouldn’t have the guts to address. Tony Stark’s fortune is based on selling weapons to customers who don’t care how they’re used. This makes his eventual superheroism seem like more of a revelation.
Thanks to adjustments like these to the superhero program, Spider-Man: Homecoming avoids the pitfalls that squished previous movies about the Wallcrawler like Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Because Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker is a teenager in the comics, it’s fitting that Homecoming plays more like a 1980s John Hughes
(The Breakfast Club) movie than a standard cape flick.
Then again, Spidey doesn’t wear capes, so that’s appropriate.
Director Jon Watts, who helmed hilarious segments for The Onion News Network, and a legion of writers correctly assume that audiences don’t need yet another origin story. There’s no point in killing off Peter Parker’s noble Uncle Ben yet again, even if one misses golden-throated actors like Cliff Robertson or Martin Sheen reminding us that “With great power comes great responsibility.”
At this point, the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man’s encounter with a radioactive spider is old news, and it’s frankly more interesting to watch him learn how to deal with his powers and obligations than it is to watch him discover them.
Having already collaborated with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in a violent dispute with Captain America in Captain America: Civil War, Peter (Tom Holland) thinks that his superhuman strength and Stark Industries-crafted suit mean he’s ready to join Thor and the Hulk in the Avengers.
That said, like many teenagers and the mercurial Stark himself, Peter lacks the judgment to go with his abilities. While he can recite all sorts of obscure facts during academic decathlons, Peter is impulsive and sometimes causes collateral damage when he’s trying to bust crooks. His eagerness keeps Stark and his humorless security chief Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) from giving him more to do.
Adolescence also doesn’t give him a break. He fumbles with appealing to his decathlon teammate Liz (Laura Harrier), and his high-pitched voice and awkward manner attract derision from criminals and his classmates.
While Peter’s saddened that Stark and Liz seem to be ignoring him, Queens has a far more troubling phenomenon. A salvage operator named Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) has collected space alien wreckage from the battle in New York that traumatized Stark in The Avengers and has used it to make fearsome new weapons.
Toomes isn’t above using his deadly equipment for his needs and figures if Tony Stark can get rich off of the tools of war, so can he.
Having nailed the look of real news with the absurd sarcasm of The Onion, Watts effortlessly juggles classroom comedy with larger than life daring do. Having Keaton for a villain really helps because his manic energy can be amusing and threatening — depending on the context.
The British Holland looks younger than his 21 years, and can play insecure without being obnoxious. His Spider-Man has skills, but one of his handicaps is that he doesn’t come off as intimidating. He has to prove to bad guys that he can subdue them.
Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee gave most of the creations the same insecurities that plague flesh-andblood heroes and villains. In some ways Holland’s convincing awkwardness makes Parker seem more heroic. For a superhero movie to work, even the most gifted of protagonists still need human hearts.
Adrian Toomes, aka Vulture (Michael Keaton), a blue-collar guy who runs a New York salvage company that cleans up the messes superhero battles create, and evil inventor Phineas Mason, aka The Tinkerer (Michael Chernus) team up to battle the teenage webslinger in Spider-Man: Homecoming.