Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man Homecoming poster.jpg

Okay, so I’ve got a long backlog of movie and other reviews to cover, and I’m going to try to get them done quickly. So right now, we’re starting with a bang with my spoiler-free review of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

A lot of people are saying this is the best Spider-Man movie ever, sometimes the best Marvel movie, and I’ve even heard the best superhero movie of all time. I wouldn’t quite go that far, but I would say that this is the best Spider-Man movie since the original Tobey Maguire Spider-Man back in 2002. Not the best Marvel or MCU movie, but near the top.

(By the way, I didn’t realize until just now that it was Spider-Man and not Spiderman. I may have to turn in my nerd card.)

My rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The first defining feature of this movie is that it is not a reboot. This is a sequel to Captain America: Civil War, in which Spider-Man is recruited as an already established, if inexperienced, hero. That means we don’t have to go through another tedious rehash of his origin story that spends half the movie going through the Stations of the Canon before actually getting to fight the main villain.

Now, I read fanfiction, which means I see a lot of stories that rehash the stations of whatever canon they’re rewriting, some of which pull it off well. But the best stories, both in fanfics and authorized reboots, if they rehash the origin story at all, make some dramatic changes to make those stations go differently, something we didn’t see with the Andrew Garfield reboot, and which I think detracted from that version.

I think another good example of a reboot done right is the 2008 The Incredible Hulk, which neither rehashes nor completely discards the 2003 Hulk, but makes references to the broad outline of its predecessor as part of its backstory.

The second interesting thing about this Spider-Man is that he doesn’t act alone. He gets his gear and mentorship from Iron Man, Tony Stark to help him learn how to be a truly great hero. I really wish we had seen more of this, since I felt that Tony was a little too hands-off for most of the movie. (I do have to wonder if they just couldn’t afford to pay Robert Downey Jr. for more screen time.) Still, even though the execution could have been better, this was a great new spin on the character that I really liked.

A few other things clean up the story really well, too. Peter’s status as a super-genius feels less contrived now that he attends a magnet school for gifted students (complete with a multicultural cast that really reflects the modern New York of which Spider-Man is an integral part). The Vulture is a brilliant villain with understandable motives that hit really close to home. And Peter’s interactions with authority figures strike a great, realistic balance between overly accommodating and overly hostile.

I do have one other major criticism, though. Without giving away anything, a certain character appears to have undergone a complete personality transplant from their previous versions. That’s honestly the part I’m most worried about if there is a sequel, but I’m still eager to see where Spider-Man’s adventures take him next.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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