The Spider-man movie franchise gets it’s 3rd reboot. This time, with Tom Holland playing the titular web-slinger. This also marks the character’s first MCU film.
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The movie starts off showing us the wreckage from the Battle of New York (the final scene of the first Avengers movie). Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is a salvage worker who’s been contracted to help dispose of the Chitauri remains in NYC. They are interrupted by members of the U.S. Department of Damage Control, who take over the salvage efforts, putting Toomes and his men out of work. After learning that Damage Control is a facet of Stark Enterprises, Toomes and his men decide to go into business secretly poaching Chitauri tech, weaponizing it, and selling it on the black market. Apparently, this goes on for years in the background of the MCU with Toomes using his Vulture suit (or flight suit) to steal tech whenever it surfaces. The primary members of his team are Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green), Herman Shultz (Bokeem Woodbine) and Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus).
Fast forward to the future, where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is just coming off of being recruited by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to help fight against Captain America in Captain America: Civil War. After the fight, Tony drops Peter back off at home and leaves him with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as a handler / point man. Months go by and Peter is languishing in his life as a “normal” high school student while dealing with small fry bad-guys as Spider-man. Despite not hearing anything directly from Tony, Peter refers to his Spider-Man work as a “Stark Internship”. He uses that as an excuse to skip out on school events and explain his time away from home to his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). As more time goes by, Peter becomes more and more frustrated with the “internship” and his lack of advancement.
Outside of being Spider-Man, Peter’s school life is pretty normal, even if it isn’t simple. He has a best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon). He’s picked on by a snotty rich kid, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori). He’s got a crush on a popular senior named Liz (Laura Harrier). He’s also constantly being put down by sarcastic loner, Michelle Jones (Zendaya).
One night, forgetting that Ned is coming over to his house to build a Lego Death Star, Peter sneaks into his room in the Spider-Man suit and unwittingly unmasks himself right in front of Ned. Ned starts to incessantly pepper Peter with questions about being Spider-Man. He then proceeds to tell Liz that Peter knows Spider-Man in order to get them invited to a party at her house. Ned manages to talk a reluctant Peter into going to the party and making an appearance as Spider-Man. Right when Spider-Man is about to make his appearance, he sees an explosion off in the distance. When he follows it, he finds two of Toomes’ men trying to sell Chitauri weapons to Aaron Davis (Donald Glover). When Ned calls Peter to see where he went, the phone ringer causes the arms dealers to think Davis set them up. Spidey intervenes and proceeds to chase the guys through the suburbs. Eventually, the Vulture intervenes and drops him into the river.
The fall is so high, that a parachute built into the Spider-Man suit deploys. Spidey gets tangled in the chute and Iron Man has to appear to scoop him out of the river. Tony reveals that there’s a tracker in the suit, and that’s how he knew where Peter was. He also reveals that he’s not actually there. He’s controlling the suit remotely. Tony warns Peter to stay out of this and stick to helping people instead of trying to fight crime.
On his way home, Peter finds a weapon dropped by Brice in the chase. So, of course, Peter decides to do the opposite of what Tony told him and keep investigating the mysterious weapons. He ends up tracking the criminals to D.C.. Fortunately for him, his high school is going to a quiz-bowl there. Peter goes on the trip, but misses the entire competition when he gets stuck in a storage facility after getting knocked out stopping the Vulture from stealing materials. While he’s in D.C., Peter and Ned also discover that the suit has a “training wheels” protocol that limits it’s functionality. Peter has Ned disable the protocol and remove the tracking device. When he puts the suit back on, he finds that the suit now has a Jarvis-like AI with a female voice that he names “Karen” (Jennifer Connelly). With Karen’s help, Peter is able to do a lot more. He realizes that the part of the weapon that Ned is carrying is going to explode soon. He rushes to get back to D.C. before that happens, but he’s too late. The weapon core detonates while Ned and Peter’s other classmates are at the top of the Washington monument. Spidey arrives just in time to save them from a falling elevator despite law enforcement showing up and telling him to stand down.
After returning to NYC, Peter follows Toomes’ men to a meeting with Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) on a ferry. He tries to stop the deal and capture the bad guys, but things go awry when one of the weapons discharges and cuts the ferry in half. Spidey attempts to hold the boat together, but he’s not strong enough to. Iron Man arrives with a bunch of drones to help put the boat together. Afterward, Tony appears in the flesh to chew Peter out for disobeying him. He reveals that, along with putting the people on the ferry in danger, Peter blew and FBI bust that he had helped set up using the information that Peter had given him. Tony effectively grounds Peter by taking away his Spider-Man suit.
Peter is dejected, but starts to actually live his life as a high school student. He starts spending more time with Ned and gets a date with Liz to a the school’s homecoming dance. When Peter shows up at Liz’s home to pick her up for the dance, he discovers that her father is the Vulture. This starts the most awkward car ride ever as Toomes drops the kids off at the dance. As his daughter starts to talk more, Toomes is able to piece together that Peter is the Spider-Man that’s been interfering with his plans recently. He threatens Peter to save out of his business and Peter seems to agree. However, Peter discovers that Toomes plans to steal a bunch of stuff from the Avenger’s headquarters as it’s being relocated from the Avenger’s Tower to the compound in upstate New York. Peter quickly ditches Liz and puts on his old Spidey suit to go after Toomes. Before he can get to him, he’s greeted by the Shocker. He’s able to beat him with an assist from Ned. He asks Ned to support him from the school’s computer lab as he procures Flash’s car and races off to fight the Vulture.
This leads to a long chase / fight scene with Spidey and the Vulture knocking down buildings and wrecking air planes. Early on, the Vulture drops a building onto Spidey, which causes him to panic and cry out for help. However, Peter remembers what Tony told him, “If you’re nothing without this suit, you don’t deserve it”. He chooses to believe in himself and, in a scene straight out of the comics, lifts the rubble off of himself. The fight ultimately ends at Coney Island. In the end Peter ends up having to save Toomes from an explosion before leaving him alive and tied up for Happy and the other Avenger’s forces to find.
The next day, Peter returns to school to find that Liz and her mother are moving away after her father’s illegal activities came to light. Peter has also returned to the quiz team, which is being captained by Michelle. She also quickly reveals that her friends (which she hasn’t had until now) call her “MJ”. After that revelation, Peter is summoned to the bathroom where Happy is waiting for him on behalf of Tony Stark. He’s taken to the new Avengers headquarters where Tony offers him an official place on the Avengers team. Peter surprises Tony by telling him that he’d prefer to remain a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” for now. Tony, seemingly surprised by Peter’s mature response, tells him that he passed the test and puts Peter’s new, shiny suit away. After Peter walks away, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) appears from behind a door and reveals that there’s a whole room of reporters waiting to hear whatever Tony was going to announce. When Peter gets back home, he finds a brown paper bag on his bed with a note from Tony Stark. The suit contains the old version of his Spider-Man costume. As he’s putting the costume on, Aunt May comes into the room behind them and exclaims “WHAT THE F—” as the credits cut off the potential profanity.
- Talking about all of the easter eggs that are stuffed into this movie would require its own post. There’s plenty of those out there for you to look up.
- It’s worth noting that I do think the advertising for the movie dropped the ball a bit with regards to Tony Stark. The previews basically showed every scene he was in in the movie, save the last one.
- The Vulture’s team doesn’t really go by aliases. I don’t know if they ever really officially call Toomes the “Vulture”. Even so, they are names of the comic book characters. Toomes is the “Vulture”. Jackson Brice is “Montana”. Herman Schultz is the “Shocker”. Phineas Mason is the “Tinkerer”. Mac Gargan is the Scorpion, a member of the Sinister Six like the Vulture.
- The fight from Civil War is shown through homemade videos that Peter shot on his phone.
- Even though Peter ditches his quiz team, they win the competition when MJ gets the last question right.
- Jackson Brice is incinerated by Toomes when he threatens to reveal the weapons operation to Toomes’ wife and daughter. However, it turns out that Toomes thought the gun that he was shooting was just an anti-gravity gun.
- In the mid-credits scene we see Toomes and Gargan reunited in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows who Spider-Man really is, but Toomes feigns ignorance. Presumably, he chooses to keep Peter’s secret in exchange for Spidey saving his life.
- The post-credits scene is a Captain America PSA talking about patience. It basically mocks the crowd for waiting around for something that’s not worth the wait.
What did I think?
The MCU has delivered a Spider-Man movie that fits pitch-perfectly into the rest of the MCU. On top of that, they delivered a movie that’s just packed full of great performances, themes and attention to the details of the characters. SO, before I talk about the rest of that, I’m going to start (like I seem to like to do) by talking about my problems with the movie.
I think a lot of my problems came down to the high school characters. I hated the representation of Flash Thompson. Overall, it was obvious that the casting of this movie was meant to show a ethnically diverse cast. They also wanted to do a more true-to-life representation of the social dynamics of a modern high school where bullies aren’t just the jocks anymore. I’m just at a loss to understand how the one notable middle-eastern character in the movie turned out to be the one they picked to be the obnoxious, douche-y bully. On top of that, this kid is a complete miss for a character that is supposed to be Flash Thompson. I mean, Flash eventually becomes Venom for goodness sake. I would’ve much preferred that they gave him the “MJ” treatment and said that he’s not really the character that’s usually there.
I also had mixed feelings about Ned. As a person, Ned seems to be very charming and he adds a lot of fun to the movie. However, as a character and a friend to Peter his is frustrating bordering on annoying. He is comically incapable of being able to handle Peter’s secret. While that does lead to some cute lines of dialogue, I also felt like I wanted Peter to just punch him in the face. I don’t think that’s how I’m supposed to feel about the “loveable sidekick”. MJ and Liz were less offensive, but came off as “nothing characters” for me. I don’t feel like they really added much to the movie, but they also didn’t do much to detract from it.
Overall, with the different school students, I think they nailed the concept of the composition of the high school, but fell flat on the actual characters. In contrast, I thought they did a great job casting the teachers. Each one of the teachers that you meet is either a comedian or a reference to another Marvel character. I thought each one of them handled their own 5 minutes of screen time in the movie beautifully. Special mention goes to Hannibal Buress for playing the gym teacher who’s just over his whole life.
Now, back to the good stuff.
The other characters in this movie felt like they were almost too good to be in the movie. Aunt May was fresh and adorable and somehow managed to be a bit more than just “hot Aunt May” despite the fact that the movie really went out of its way to hammer that home. The dynamic between Tony Stark and Peter Parker was great, and subtly replaced the relationship that we usually see Uncle Ben used for. Michael Keaton was a great villain both in his performance and the way the villain was constructed. He had one of those moments where I felt like he was acting so powerfully that it was almost too much for an MCU movie when he had his heart-to-heart with Peter in the warehouse and the car. It was one of the first times in the MCU that a villain was actually a sympathetic and well rounded character. On top of that, he survived! An equally rare feet for villains in the MCU.
Of course, Tom Holland is the runaway star of the movie. His Spider-Man is a true and realistic representation of a 15 year old super hero. That is both a credit to the actor and the movie. He’s easily frustrated. He’s bored. He’s scared. He doesn’t completely understand the way the world works. One of my favorite little moments was when he was out stopping crime and ended up webbing a guy who was trying to “break in” to his own car. Like with Keaton, he had a moment that was almost too good for the movie. When the warehouse collapses on him and he freaks out, the panic was so authentic that you could hear a pin drop in the theater I was in.
With all of this, there is still the humor and heart that we’ve come to expect from MCU movies. Again, there’s a lot to love about this movie and I definitely do. From here on out, I’m just hoping that we can keep Spidey in the MCU instead of handing him back to the Fox/Marvel studios who are taking on a more mature tone recently.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Great casting and performances across the board
- Just like he was in Civil War, Holland is a perfect youthful version of Spider-Man
- The movie doesn't do anythign to really break out of the MCU box, it actually embraces being in it
- I do not like the direction they took Flash Thompson's character