No one, least of all diehard comic book enthusiasts, was jonesing for a new Spider-Man movie in 2017. Homecoming is the sixth stand-alone film for Marvel’s sarcastic web-slinger in the last fifteen years, and only about half of those are worthy of a second viewing. Fatigue for the character paired with a screenplay penned by six different credited writers (Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, and director Jon Watts) seemed to be a recipe for certain disaster. Against all odd, however, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a reminder of how exhilarating a summer blockbuster truly can be.
After pulling his weight in the massive fight sequence in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) can’t help but find returning to life as an average teenager to be unnervingly monotonous. He can’t wait to swing into action again, and when powerful alien technology falls into the hands of a disgruntled salvager (Michael Keaton), he may have just found his chance.
Hands down one of the funniest movies of the year so far, Spider-Man: Homecoming leans heavily into the humor elements of its source material. Watts captures the snarky character from the comics, which comes as a refreshing change from the brooding Spider-Man we keep seeing in the film adaptations. The movie does a great job showing that Peter’s an actual teen, and he’s just excited to be experiencing any of this. Homecoming humanizes him by making him guileless and spunky, just like a kid should be.
An origin story that assumes knowledge on the part of the viewer, we don’t spend any time learning how Peter gained his superhuman abilities. Instead, the script shows us his journey by focusing on the little realities that are normally overlooked by superhero movies. We see an unbroken shot of how much of a pain it is to change clothes in an alley on the way to battle, we are with him as he’s dealing with unappreciative citizens, and, most importantly, we watch as he falls on his face (often literally) while learning to manage his newfound powers.
There is tremendous characterization to be found here, even in the supporting cast, but there is also great attention given to the lavish action set pieces. The high energy sequences are creative, clever, and actually edited in such a way where the audience can see what is going on. Unlike many other major action blockbusters, Spider-Man: Homecoming never becomes an indiscernible goop of CGI explosions. In fact, it stays grounded in reality as firmly as it can while still acknowledging the strangeness of its own universe.
Looking past the superhero overload and the level of product placement we’ve come to expect from a Sony production, Spider-Man: Homecoming is an absolute blast from start to finish. Its lengthy runtime whizzes by, and it is one of the rare gems that makes an argument for having a new superhero flick at the multiplex every other week. It breathes new life into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that continues to jump rope with our threshold for excitement over its installments. Let’s hope it puts out movies like this one.
Drink Every Time: a celebrity stops by for a cameo.