Following a fleeting introduction in Captain America: Civil War, cinema’s third incarnation of Spider-Man swings into Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in a second reboot.
Thankfully resisting replaying an over-familiar origin story, Homecoming picks up with keen Peter Parker (Tom Holland) eager to fight crime after his Avengers debut. Despite his mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) attempting to keep Peter somewhat grounded, Peter soon runs into Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a salvage worker-turned-arms dealer, who collects scraps of alien weaponry from former Avenger showdowns and later becomes known as the Vulture. All the while Peter attempts to keep his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) from revealing his alter ego to the world and in particular Peter’s high school crush Liz (Laura Harrier) and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
Holland’s youth and enthusiastic urgency are effective in separating him from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s previous portrayals, with director Jon Watts already showing his ability to direct young actors in his previous indie film Cop Car. However, his endearing, inquisitive nature is somewhat lost amongst his technology-heavy suit (courtesy of Stark) which features training exercises, satellite navigation and “instant kill mode”. Not only feeling too reminiscent of Iron Man’s suit, the wondrous amazement at his own abilities and trial and error scenarios are less well-earned and lack the charm that Sam Raimi’s instalments had in abundance.
Keaton’s charismatic yet menacing turn as a villain offers a welcome change of pace within the MCU, simply wanting a better life for his family rather than world domination. Although the transition from blue-collar worker to criminal was rather sudden, you’re invited to sympathise with his circumstances, offering more than one villainous dimension.
While you could do worse than reference a John Hughes movie in what is essentially a coming-of-age film with webbing, rather than opting for a simple nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we’re then explicitly and needlessly shown the movie playing on a television. As if to clarify and ensure the audience doesn’t fail to recognise that Marvel is aiming for a different tone with Homecoming.
Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films and the MCU as a whole have previously been criticised for including tacked-on scenes that only exist to serve a later instalment. Other than a brief mid-credit scene, Homecoming wisely focuses on the focal web-slinger, a property that is already exhausted for many, without the annoyance of other outings being pushed on them.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a solid second reboot for those who aren’t suffering from Spider-Man fatigue.