He may be Marvel’s most-esteemed character, but Spider-Man has never had a film befitting of his popularity. Sure, he has been in some decent movies, but they have all had their flaws, and none have ever been good enough to fully enjoy. This then, is the Spider-Man film everyone has been waiting for, a blockbuster that entertains every way it knows how.
Fresh after helping Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) face-off against his fellow Avengers – in other words, the events of Captain America: Civil War – Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has returned home to his mundane life as a teenager in Queens, there living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and attending the local high school with best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon). When not at Midtown School, Peter keeps a watchful eye on affairs in his neighbourhood as his alter-ego, Spider-Man.
Now that he has a Stark-designed suit, Peter is only too keen to maintain order, but would rather be helping his mentor on a more important mission elsewhere. That desire subsides once a group of terrorists – equipped with futuristic, high-powered weapons – rob a nearby bank. The leader of this underground gang is Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a former salvage worker who commits crimes in a mechanical flying suit under the alias of Vulture.
Recent months have seen many superhero films deliver their own unique spin on the genre – Doctor Strange through its existentialist themes, Logan by showing what happens when they age, and Wonder Woman with its World War setting. Spider-Man: Homecoming is no different, obtaining its individuality by focusing on Peter’s endeavours at high school. While the other Spider-Man films did the same, they only did so briefly, which makes this instalment distinct from those previous.
Also setting Homecoming apart from the erstwhile Spider-Man films is its suburban setting. Instead of swinging from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, Spidey must make do trees, streetlights and bridges to make his way across Queens, often with amusing results – one of the wittier scenes involves Peter, in his superhero outfit, running across strangers’ backyards in an overt, but brilliant, reference to the coming-of-age classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Additionally, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the franchise’s first official foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hence why heroes such as Iron Man are making an appearance. The connection between Homecoming and the other films is forged very early on, meaning none of the characters nor plot devices feel forced or unnecessary. It’s quite clever how characters like Spider-Man and Vulture can come late and still seamlessly integrate into an already-established world.
More remarkable than that is the casting. Tom Holland, despite his age, manages to outshine both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s turns as Spider-Man, capturing the nerdy awkwardness of the former and the sheer likeability of the latter. Michael Keaton gives the MCU one of its best villains to date, wicked-yet-charming as Vulture. Even the casting of Peter’s classmates is faultless, with the likes of Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Zendaya, and Laura Harrier putting in great performances, and Jacob Batalon being most loveable of all – he deserves way more credit than what he’s given.
But the best part of Spider-Man: Homecoming is its ability to make people laugh. Even though it resides in a universe already renowned for its humour, it’s still incredible that a Marvel film can be as funny as it is. What’s more, the comedy is so well-timed that even the most predictable moments are hilarious. And despite there being a greater emphasis on humour, Homecoming doesn’t skimp on the action, with sequences that are smaller in scale but nonetheless entertaining.
What’s here is not just another Spider-Man film, for Homecoming is much more than that. It is a story unlike any other, combining the themes of a teenage drama, thrills of a comic-book movie and charm of an Eighties comedy to deliver the best Marvel Cinematic Universe instalment yet. It is, without a doubt, the perfect blockbuster.