Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017)

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How d’you like my Batman voice?

Deadpool reminded me of Spider-Man. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, that is. Deadpool was half the movie that Spider-Man was, but with enough adult things—humor, language, sex, violence—to make up for the lacking half.

Spider-Man: Homecoming reminds me a lot of Deadpool, but in terms of the adult things—humor, language, sex, violence—the latter was (in)famous for, Homecoming‘s only half the fun that Deadpool was. It’s Deadpool-lite, with the latter’s hard-R rating cut to whiny PG-13.

Marvel has finally “marvelized” Spider-Man—which is both good and bad—the same way it did Thor, Cap, and Iron Man. The good: the casting of Tom Holland as Spider-Man/Peter Parker (easily the most precise (best?) incarnation of the character, a perfect middle ground for those who find Tobey Maguire too dorky and those who find Andrew Garfield too dicky), Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes, Marvel’s ability to present a plausible comic book world that’s close to our own, and the impressive visual effects—all of which, should be pretty much given by now in every Marvel movie. And these are among the main reasons for these movies’ box office draw and the franchise’s enduring appeal.

And the bad: Pete’s high school/superhero life is just too light, sometimes too much to be remarkable, if not forgettable, unlike the three Sam Raimi spins, and to some extent, the Sony reboot for Twilight fans (Marc Webb at least managed to add cute and dramatic moments; Homecoming goes for the romantic/dramatic level of American Pie). Like the bulk of MCU movies, it’s a fun above-average entertainment, but ultimately recyclable.

Instead of taking its cue from the Sam Raimi films, Homecoming re-imagines Tom Holland’s Peter as Tony Stark transposed to high school, with Ned as Happy Hogan and Tony Stark as Nick Fury, evaluating a possibly new recruit for his Avengers Initiative. The movie’s plot, the suit, the incoherent mid-air battle, down to the Aunt May reveal in the end, it’s so Iron Man recycled for the nth time. (Ant-Man’s plot is also similar, but it’s got something Homecoming doesn’t have.)

But the suit Stark made is a hoot, though kind of overkill (Is that Spider-chute?); that Nolan’s Batman reference send up, hilarious. And the suit’s A.I. whom Peter named Karen (Jennifer Connely), has an inch more character than most of those in Peter’s class. Outside of Ned and Michelle, they were as memorable as the supporting characters in Iron Man 2. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May is underused while Robert Downey Jr. makes the best out of the little screen time he’s given.

Michael Keaton playing Adrian Toomes/Vulture is simply the best thing in the movie. His scenes with Peter in their house and in the car were easily the most memorable, along with that elevator rescue, Peter getting buried in the rubble, and of course, “Blitzkrieg Bop”.

 

There are moments when the movie slips to show some heart (Pete rescuing Mr. Delmar, a guy not wanting Toomes’ weapons in his hood) but for the most part, it’s just busy geeking out on Stark’s marvelous suit and contented with being Deadpool-lite and Iron Man in underoos.

While we know what harm Toomes’ weapons could do in the neighborhood, Spidey’s biggest fight is actually more self-serving than anything really heroic. He wanted to get into the A-Team. And guess what? He actually ends up sacrificing his homecoming dance for them, not for the people of Queens, who, by the way, were barely a character in the movie (Which is probably good because the last time ordinary citizens were involved, they lined up the cranes). There’s also this nice (wasted) dramatic conflict in the end, a conflict between trying to stop the villain and saving Liz’s father at the same time. It was a little dramatic touch drowned in the sea of big battle mayhem. Keaton definitely tried to elevate the proceedings (i.e., those arched brows suggesting Toomes’ ambiguity in the end), but that battle on the side of the airplane—over-edited, hard to follow CGI mess—is a blast! And it leaves Homecoming in ruins.

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