But now, things are different. Very different. Now Sony and Marvel Studios have partnered together to finally bring Spider-Man and his universe into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And this is the first Spider-Man movie that establishes that in a big way. It’s not just because Tony Stark/Iron Man is his mentor either, the entire story is dead-center within the MCU. And it should be. After all, Spider-Man has been Marvel Comics’ flagship character for almost the company’s entire history. Spider-Man: Homecoming shows us why that is. The film adapts Spidey from the original comics closer than any previous franchise as a hero that kids and adults alike can relate to. He isn’t perfect, he isn’t polished, he’s probably the most unlucky person on the planet, but he is the heart and soul of the Marvel Universe and has been a hero to so many people for so long BECAUSE of those things.
*Spoilers Ahoy, True Believers! Enter if you dare!*
Homecoming begins halfway through Captain America: Civil War after Tony Stark (as always, played by Robert Downey Jr.) recruits him as his secret weapon against Cap’s team. Peter taped a vlog chronicling his time in-between the scenes we saw in that film. Happy Hogan (as always, played by Jon Favreau) serves as Pete’s liaison with Stark. As you can imagine, there’s more than enough hilarity that ensues with Happy and his dry wit to counter the young Peter’s unbridled excitement in fighting alongside (and against) the Avengers.
But then, after he’s sent home after the infamous “airport battle”, things simmer down. Pete goes back to being an awkward kid in high school by day, and street-level web-spinning vigilante by well...after-school hours. He gives updates to Tony and Happy but they barely contact him back...until, of course. He runs into some thugs robbing ATMs with some crazy new technology.
Turns out that all those crazy fights the Avengers have been having? Well, there’s a lot of wreckage left behind and SOMEONE has to clean all of that stuff up. At first, the city would hire contractors to do that job, but there’s some dangerous otherworldly tech lying around and Stark and the government have put together a new division to clean wreckage after superhero battles. Yes, Marvel die-hards, DAMAGE CONTROL is formed in this movie! Led by Anne Marie Hoag (played by TV and film legend Tyne Daly in the movie), Damage Control actually had their own short stories and limited series’ various times over the years. But those irate contractors they put out of business in the MCU? One of them is Adrian Toomes, and along with his lackeys, Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall Green), Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine) and Phineas Mason (yes, The Tinkerer!) come up with a plot to “stick it to the man” by reverse engineering tech from superhero fights and using it and selling it for their own personal gain. Brice, as some may know, was known as Enforcers member Montana in the comics. He starts out using tech from Crossbones’ gauntlets as vibro-gauntlets, calling himself Shocker (Toomes finds that name silly), but throughout the film, we do see Schultz (the traditional Shocker in the comics) take up that mantle. Toomes of course, uses Chitauri tech to create these quite fearsome wings, turning into the first real costumed arch-nemesis for Spider-Man, The Vulture (I love the fact that Vulture actually WAS Spidey’s first real costumed villain in both the comics back in ASM #2 and the MCU as well). The thugs with the tech earlier obviously got their gear from Toomes’ crew. What Toomes and his gang don’t realize is how dangerous the Chitauri power cores are and they are running around with potential bombs in their gear.
Without spoiling too much, the movie follows Spidey as he uncovers what Toomes is up to at the same time as trying to impress Stark AT THE SAME TIME as being a regular teenager with girl problems, and school and bullies like Flash Thompson (this time played by Tony Revolori), the homecoming dance coming up and all of that. That mix creates a different type of movie than anything the MCU has given us before. It’s definitely a lighter type of movie that is focused towards a younger audience, and that’s okay. After how dark Civil War got, I think this is a welcome treat, to be honest.
And when I say it is lighter fare, it’s not to say it doesn’t have intense, dark or heartfelt moments. All of that is in there. When I say dark, it is coming mostly from Michael Keaton. And wow, if you think of him as Batman and Batman only, well, you need to see this movie (and probably Beetlejuice)! Keaton is the best, most badass Spider-Man villain ever to see live action and there is one scene in the movie where HE WILL GIVE YOU CHILLS. I’m serious. He takes the Adrian Toomes character (whom I never really got invested in within the comic universe) and brings him to another level!
What specifically makes Toomes interesting is that you see different sides of him. He’s not exactly a good guy, but there are sides that make him not all that of a bad guy either. And those diverse levels of the character make him VERY interesting to watch. You see him act so fearsome that he actually made me realize that Keaton could have easily played Norman Osborn in this franchise. And at the same time, I can also see Toomes becoming Spider-Man’s uneasy ally in a future film, similar to how Sandman has been written in the comics over the years. Keaton’s portrayal definitely has that old school Spidey villain feel and I loved that.
Tony Stark’s role is well done. After the events of Civil War, we see Tony trying to create a future for the MCU and molding a new hero out of Peter Parker, a young kid with genius level intellect and a hero’s spirit. Tony sees a lot of himself in Peter (possibly even someone BETTER than him), and he wants to be a father figure...nurturing Peter unlike his own father failed to nurture him. And if you are concerned, I did not at all feel like Iron Man dominated the movie. In fact, he is barely in it. He is there to give the film a boost and encourage Spider-Man, not steal the spotlight.
Stark’s role is indeed very crucial, though. He gives Peter his drive and helps Spider-Man become the hero he will be going forward. Peter’s need to prove that he has what it takes to Stark is pivotal in the film, and to my absolute delight it results in a scene homaging ASM #33. I can’t spoil that moment for anyone, but it is classic Spider-Man and gave tribute to the lore in a very cool way.
There’s so many Easter eggs happening in the film that I doubt I spotted them all, but the few that I did absolutely blew me away. Right down to Pete’s buddy, Ned (Jacob Batalon) being a clever nod to Ned Leeds (who eventually became the Hobgoblin in the 616 universe) and Miles Morales’ high school buddy, Ganke Lee in the Ultimateverse. Donald Glover’s character, Aaron Davis, a criminal that attempts to purchase gear from Schultz and Brice, is known as the Prowler in the Ultimateverse as well, and also Miles Morales’ uncle. And yes, there’s a great Easter Egg there that has gotten quite a bit of a buzz.
Also, my favorite MCU Easter Egg is that the principal at Pete’s school is played by Kenneth Choi, who also played Howling Commando Jim Morita in Captain America: First Avenger and in his office in the film, you can see old WWII photographs on the wall...it’s been now confirmed that Choi is playing Morita’s ancestor. Standup comedian Hannibal Burress is playing Whiz Wilson, Midtown High’s football coach in the comics. My fellow Montrealer Michael Mando is playing Mac Gargan, another low-level criminal who we all know may or may not become one of Spidey’s most dangerous enemies, The Scorpion. These are all just a few things I noticed in the movie, there’s a lot more and probably a lot more I’ll find in future viewings of the movie.
Marisa Tomei returns as Aunt May and even though she is a much younger version of the character, she invokes all of the same spirit of Peter Parker’s doting aunt. The “hot aunt” running joke continues throughout the movie, too! Everyone in Queens agrees with Tony Stark at how unusually attractive Aunt May is. If you are wondering, yes Uncle Ben is referred to but only in a very subtle way. As is how Peter Parker got his powers. I think at this point everyone is aware of Spider-Man’s classic origin story, and it is very refreshing that this film is taking a well-deserved leap over having to go through all of that over again. However, if I was introducing the character of Spider-Man to a young child, I would probably show them the at least the first Sam Raimi movie before Homecoming, just to give them a an idea of how things came about. That film’s origin remains pretty definitive.
Zendaya plays Michelle, a loner with a dry sense of humour and an odd fascination with Peter Parker. Of course, Peter only has eyes for the most popular girl in the school Liz (who is very loosely based on Liz Allen from the Spidey comics) and Michelle is totally under his radar. Now, I know there are a lot of rumours swirling around this character and by the end of the movie you learn that all of the rumours and what the producers and actors have been telling us are all both right and wrong. There's a twist, and I liked it. It's different and there's lots of places they can go with this character. There might as well be a big 'ol TO BE CONTINUED stamped on her forehead. At any rate, I really found Michelle funny and can't wait to see what's in store for her.
Now to Homecoming’s star, Tom Holland. This kid works on all cylinders. He gets who Spider-Man is and captures Peter Parker more than any actor that has played the role. We got a taste of this in the bedroom scene in Civil War, and what I loved about what Pete says to Tony in that scene (I still tear up a little bit when I watch it), this movie accentuates. Holland makes us realize that whether Peter Parker is a teenager or an adult (as most of us comic readers are used to him being), he speaks to us in ways that very few superheroes can.
He is an every man’s hero and at the end of the film even Tony Stark realizes it. That scene that will make all of our “spider-sense” tingle with Michael Keaton? Well, it sure wouldn’t have been the same without Tom Holland for him to play off of. The kid can become Spider-Man with an expression on his face without wearing the mask and costume, and that is VERY important. Christopher Reeve could do it, Robert Downey Jr. can do it, Chris Evans can do it, and ironically even Michael Keaton could do it during his tenure as Batman. It’s like Stark says during the movie, “if you need the suit, you don’t deserve it.” I’m so happy we finally have this definitive wall-crawler in our lives!
So, there you have it. Spider-Man: Homecoming is the summer blockbuster with a heart that we’ve been waiting for, and another amazing superhero comic book movie to join Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy in this memorable year for the genre. Let’s hope this phenomenal roll continues!
That’s it for now, Amazing Friends! Bleed out!