In 2014, as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe was tightening its grip on the pop culture landscape, Sony retained the movie rights to Marvel’s most iconic character in Spider-Man, and announced a series of spinoffs and sequels for its upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then something happened. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 cost more and earned less than any Spider-Man movie before it and suddenly the plans laid out were called into question. None of those announced projects came to pass and Sony was left to scramble to figure out the future of Ol’ Web-head. Sony surprised everyone when they announced a teaming with Marvel that would bring Spider-Man into the fold of the MCU, and after a scene-stealing debut in Captain America: Civil War, Spidey is now headlining his own film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Director Jon Watts’ film is a lively, highly entertaining blockbuster that is brimming with humor and action. If you liked what you saw from Spider-Man in Civil War, you’re gonna love the entirety of Homecoming.
Homecoming opens in the aftermath of the first Avengers movie. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) has been granted a city contract to clean up the various Chitauri remnants scattered across the city. But Damage Control steps in and removes Toomes from the job, nullifying his contract and leaving him with a number of expenses he’ll never recoup. Under the financial pressure and a sense of loyalty to his men, Adrian schemes to develop a set of weapons based upon the alien technology and sell them on the black market.
Present day, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has just returned home from his international trip which saw him battling alongside Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.). Back in Queens, Peter attends school, has dinner with Aunt May (Marissa Tomei), and constantly hounds Tony Stark’s friend and bodyguard Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) in the hopes that he’s once again needed to join the Avengers in action. After an encounter with some of Toomes’ specialty weapons, Spider-Man decides to investigate further into these horrifying weapons’ origins despite the warnings of Tony Stark. All the while, Peter Parker is still a high school student with worries ranging from the academic decathlon team and his ongoing crush with its leader Liz (Laura Harrier). Life is hard enough as a teenager and things are even tougher when moonlighting as a masked superhero.
One thing that makes Spider-Man: Homecoming such a delightful piece of superhero cinema is its breezy charms and absolute hilarious moments. The jokes come at a fast pace and aren’t simply limited to the chatty version of Peter Parker from Tom Holland. As Peter’s best friend Ned, Jacob Batalon gets a number of big laughs and yet the characters isn’t simply comic relief. He’s got a character arc, too. With her limited screen time, Zendaya gets a number scene-stealing moments as the wryly comic Michelle. It’s even in the little moments that Homecoming is able to coax laughs from the audience, such as a small but hilarious role by Hannibal Burress and one stunning cameo from another prominent member of the MCU. The comedy of Homecoming keeps the film moving at a brisk pace but never distracts from the story or the action, instead blending seamlessly into everything in the film.
What may be the most impressive thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming is the fact that the film doesn’t have a wildly conflicted personality despite having six credited screenwriters. There’s no origin story to the web-slinger, and at no point is “With great power comes great responsibility” uttered, though it does emerge as a prominent theme within Peter Parker’s arc. Jon Watts strikes a deft balance with the humor, action, and teases for the future. There’s a key dynamic between the Parker and Stark relationship, one that sees a teenager eager to fit in and take his mantle as one of the Avengers. The movie is never a downer nor loses momentum even when Peter is having to confront for the first time that he may be missing out on teenage fun for his life of heroism or having to face consequences for not listening to his mentor.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fun piece of blockbuster filmmaking. It doesn’t redefine the genre nor does it match the high-water mark of Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films, but it doesn’t have to. Homecoming achieves all that it aims for. Most of all, it’s just fun. It fits into the MCU without feeling forced or shoehorned into Marvel’s overarching plans. Homecoming also works as a clever little teenage drama as well as it does as a superhero movie. Be sure to stay all the way though the credits because Spider-Man: Homecoming has what is probably the best post-credits scene in Marvel’s history. Homecoming establishes Tom Holland as the next great Peter Parker and a welcome addition to the MCU. A common complaint about various Marvel movies is the fact that many find them cookie-cutter in nature, but that’s not a concern here. Spider-Man: Homecoming has a unique personality within the MCU and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Marvel’s most entertaining films with its great cast, heart, humor, and eye-popping spectacle. Welcome home, Spidey.