SPOILERS AHEAD! To me, Spider-Man goes back before Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. I grew up with Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Nicholas Hammond in the live action. Spider-Man was witty one-liners and web fluid that ran out. I wanted awkward Peter and smart-mouthed Spidey. Maguire gave me Peter and Garfield gave me Spidey but it wasn’t enough. I believed that I would only get the “real” Spider-Man when Marvel got the right to do it themselves. When the news came out that Marvel made a deal to get the rights to use him in Civil War, I was thrilled—Spider-Man was coming home. It’s apt that they named his first MCU film Spider-Man: Homecoming. I wasn’t blown out of the water because of some flaws with Aunt May, but I left the theatre extremely happy.
In this movie, Peter is excited, back from Captain America: Civil War. While superheroing in Queens, he stumbles on some fancy tech that pits him against the Vulture, a former salvager who steals advanced or alien technology, uses said tech to make weapons, and sells them on the black market.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was filled with humor, like Peter being afraid of being on top of the Washington Monument. He keeps making rookie mistakes, like when he webbed the guy that was breaking into his own car, and leaving his backpack to be stolen—repeatedly. The down time in the storage facility was almost a mental reset, a quiet look into Peter’s mind.
Michael Keaton shines as Adrian Toomey aka the Vulture. He makes you feel sympathetic to his situation and understand why he chooses the villain route. Shortly after the Battle of New York, Damage Control takes the salvage of the Chitauri debris away from Adrian Toomey, most likely because in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1E6 (“FZZT”) it was discovered that the Chitauri were host to a silicone virus that exploded when it killed you. As a result, he turns to a life of crime to support his family. The costume designer Louise Frogley found a way to make the Vulture retain his iconic look while making it look practical instead of ridiculous. Her use of a fur-lined bomber jacket to keep warm was pure genius.
Peter is so enthusiastic coming off a fight with and against the Avengers in Civil War. He’s eager to prove himself but has tunnel vision. He drops all of his extra-curricular activities at his elite school, except the Academic Decathlon. When first Happy and then Tony tell him to leave it to the adults, Peter insists on investigating how high-tech weapons ended up in the hands of bank robbers. This is exactly how I imagine any kid would act. He’s smart, but he’s still a kid which causes problems when he’s without supervision. Happy, who’s supposed to supervise him, keeps blowing him off. It’s like telling your elementary school kid that you’ll make them toast in a few minutes…and an hour later, there’s smoke coming out of the toaster because they did it themselves.
On that note: Tony is the worst parent-figure. At times I wondered if he even knew he was in a a parental role, but then he’s say something, “God, I sound like my dad right now.” He promised to mentor this teenaged boy and then passes him off to the nanny (Happy). He tells Peter not to pursue the investigation. He refuses to give it to the Avengers, but won’t tell Peter anything to indicate that he actually listened to the boy and is doing something about the tech. When he appears at the last second to save the Staten Island ferry, he gives the dad lecture and “grounds” Peter by taking the fancy suit away. He does manage to give one ONE good piece of advice:
Tony: If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it, okay?
Spider-Man: Homecoming has an inconsistent supporting cast. Ned’s the perfect best friend. He tries to talk sense into Peter…then helps him anyway. He’s enthusiastic and supportive, a great sounding board for Peter. Flash, however, was one dimensional. Gone is the dumb jock, and he’s replaced with a slightly less smart intellectual bully. Liz is popular: she’s a senior and captain of the Athletic Decathlon. Her character is written a little too perfectly, though, and there’s no room for growth. Like Flash (School Bully), she seems more like an archetype (Dream Girl) than a person. Where are the humanizing qualities in these characters? Fortunately, Michelle more than made up for it. She was an artist, and she liked to do protests. She starts out as an outsider, but by the end, she’s respected enough to be team captain. I think Michelle likes Peter, but I can’t be positive. I find myself always trying to figure out what’s going on inside her head. I find that to call her “MJ” at the end of the movie feels wrong, though. She’s a far more compelling and deep character than Mary Jane ever was. Also, it felt like Aunt May was only there as someone for Tony to flirt with. If the trend keeps continuing, May will be a teenager in the next movie.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is all about Peter learning that you need to walk before you can run. He has to figure out who he is without a fancy costume. This is expressed well when Peter is pinned under the rubble, looking at his reflection in the water, the image half his face, half his mask. Then it’s driven home when Peter gets what he wants: an offer to be and live with the Avengers…but he turns it down to be the street-level hero that Stark asked him to be early on.
My biggest complaint with Spider-Man: Homecoming is the caption “8 years later” at the beginning. If you take into account that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exists in the same universe (Earth-199999) as the movies, Avengers takes place 6-8 months before the show starts. The show keeps close track of the passage of time, and Captain America: Civil War takes place 3 years later. Spider-Man: Homecoming is supposed to take place 2 months after Civil War which is only 3 years after the Battle of New York. There is no way you can stretch that as far as 8 years. The simple solution would have been to give fuzzy dates. For example, when Damage Control took over salvage operations after the Battle of New York, they could have had the caption “Then.” or “Earlier.” Of course when they got to the present day, all they had to do was say “Now” or “Present.”
Verdict: 4 out of 5
In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999). When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter. She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.