After a brief but stellar debut in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man takes center stage in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which finally completely nails everything we love about the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler for the big screen.
Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker where it’s a few months after the battle at the airport and Peter is trying to prove he’s ready to be a full fledged Avenger but Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is trying to keep him at street level to try and stop Peter from making a horrible mistake by rushing into things too quickly. Peter sees a chance to prove himself as a big time superhero when he uncovers a ring of arms dealers selling weapons enhanced with stolen alien tech, led by the vicious Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) but it forces him to choose between tracking down the crooks or living his high school life, which includes parties at his crush Liz’s house and the Academic Decathalon team. Tom Holland is literally perfect as Peter Parker, much like how his mentor Tony Stark features a perfectly cast RDJ, and it’s fantastic to see a Spider-Man who is actually still a kid and learning the ropes but also loving being a hero, like in a montage that shows a typical day of crime stopping in his neighborhood that involves helping old ladies and accidentally webbing the rightful owner of a car. Holland really reminded me of Michael J. Fox, especially like Teen Wolf/Back to Future era Michael J. Fox and that definitely helps the 80’s teen comedy vibe of the movie. The high school side of things is where that 80sness is most notable as Peter reluctantly has to constantly bail on commitments and fun with only his buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), who’s possibly more excited than Peter about his best friend’s secret and there’s a bunch of fun cameos for the teachers of Midtown, including Martin Starr as the Decathalon team coach and Hannibal Burress as the completely checked out gym teacher. There may be slightly too many characters in both the high school and criminal side of things, as most of the secondary characters don’t really get fleshed out and are either just there as setup for later movies, like Zendaya or Donald Glover, or just given the broad strokes, like the more douchey Flash Thompson, played by Tony Revolori. Michael Keaton is fantastic as always as Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture and he he’s definitely the coolest looking and most intimidating version of the character I can think of, definitely more so than the old man in a bird costume that is classic comic book Vulture. He has a pretty interesting backstory as well that ties in really well to what’s been going on in the MCU since the first Avengers movie, as his crew hits caches of Chitauri and other tech that are being collected by Department of Damage Control that is setup following the Battle of New York and he has a personal grudge against that agency and anything related to Tony Stark. His crew also includes Bokeem Woodbine as Shocker and Michael Chernus as The Tinkerer and they are both great actors and have some fun moments but they are definitely second bananas to Keaton.
Homecoming also has some excellent Spider-Man action, although I don’t know if anything matches the elevated train battle from Spider-Man 2, which is definitely still one of the greatest sequences in comic book history, but the ferry sequence is pretty damn close. Most of the action sequences are way more fun than anything in the prior movies though, mostly due to Holland’s charming running commentary and his banter with the AI of his Stark suit, which he comes to call Karen and is voiced with the perfect blend of AI coldness and friendly sweetness by Jennifer Connolly. There’s also tons of terrific Easter Eggs for both the future Spider-Man movies and the MCU in general like the return of a surly Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as the liaison between Peter and Tony, the appearance of Iron Man, the aforementioned Damage Control and a plane full of Avengers goodies while on the Spider-Man side of things you have the setup for a potential appearance later on by Scorpion, a reference to Miles Morales and a bunch more but none of it ever bogs down the plot of the movie like, say, Age of Ultron or Iron Man 2, which came to dead stops at certain points to setup future films. Homecoming definitely stands alone as it’s own movie but the fact that Spidey is home in the MCU is definitely used to great effect.
If you are a Spider-Man fan, Homecoming is the movie you’ve been waiting for. Tom Holland perfectly captures the personality of Peter Parker and is charming and hilarious both in and out of the suit and it’s just great to have Spidey back where he belongs. The future is a little murky as far as Sony spin-offs and who will appear where but as far as the MCU side of things is concerned, I’m all in.