With great power, comes great responsibility, John Watts. It’s one thing to have Spidey somewhat back in the hands of Marvel Studios, it’s a whole other thing to deliver a portrayal of Peter Parker’s alter ego that can wipe the slate clean from sins passed. Watts has come from ultra low budget horror, Clown, to helming what is hands down the greatest Spider-Man film to date.
Sam Raimi and Marc Webb both tried and–to certain degrees–failed to deliver crowd pleasing adventures for everyone’s favorite web-slinger. While these were not the first efforts to bring the character to the screen in one way or another, of the most modern attempts it would seem the third time (third iteration anyway) was the charm. Tom Holland’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War gave legions of fans hope for the impending reboot as it certainly appeared that finally the tone and personality of Peter Parker and his arachnid alias had been captured. Spider-Man: Homecoming extends that and more with nearly the entire high school setting.
The first ten minutes breezes through pre-Civil War events, flashes of the events transpiring during the fight with Cap through a video journal taken by Parker himself–capturing the teen wonder of the extraordinary circumstances a normal kid from Manhattan is living through. The film then transitions from a found-footage aesthetic to present time as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) drops Peter off at home informing him his services are no longer needed imminently and that they will contact him if need be. Nearly the entirety of the film then balances Peter’s unrestrained excitement of possibly being part of something bigger than him, discovering a potential threat to his city and attempting to impress his would be boss by taking down said threat on his own–in the process causing big messes and trying to find time to be a kid.
The threat/villain here aside from Peter’s stumbles as Spider-Man himself comes in the form of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). Toomes while never calling himself, Vulture, is referred to as such informally throughout the movie. He’s a relatable villain that embodies the normal guy pushed into abnormal circumstances by the ever changing world around him. Keaton isn’t on screen much, but he makes the most of each scene he appears in–particularly a tense and foreboding scene where its just Toomes and Parker having a conversation in a car. Watts seems right at home directing these characters. The high school kids actually look and feel like teens and even when Peter dawns the Spidey costume has all the confidence and bumbling immaturity of a teenager. It seems impossible to go back and view Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield seriously after this.
Surprisingly, Homecoming is at its best when veering away from the larger action sequences. There two larger set pieces are colorful and thrilling, but its hard to ignore the cartoonish look of the CGI that blends nicely into this world and of the comic book ilk, but is of note visually when compared to the non-CGI shenanigans. The script perfectly captures Spidey’s quirky personality traits and humorous circumstances that come with his particular skill set and Watts direction frames every scene with a deft eye for visual comedy.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Spider-Man: Homecoming may very well be one of the best superhero movies to date. As is the case with cinema, the special effects will age, but the teen comedy and drama will remain timeless and effective. Jon Watts is about as far from a household name as most of the new batch of indie directors taking on big projects can be–and in a perfect world, Spidey’s latest adventure is about to change that in a big way.
Beer Recommendation: My spidey-sense is tingling, but I got nothin’ at the moment. Hang tight, nerds!