Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 24, 2017

Let me just start by saying, I did not want to see this film. Absolutely zero interest. I didn't even bother to watch any of the trailers, which explains why I thought it was yet another version of the done-to-death Spider-Man origin story.

 

I mean, how many times can you cover the same ground? Are we really going to have to sit through the whole radioactive-spider-bite-thing every time CGI tech has advanced enough to make web shooters a little more realistic?

 

Luckily, however, my partner read through some of the initial reviews, and, based on the strength of his recommendation, I agreed to go.

 

I was so relieved when there was nary a glowing spider to be found.

 

Spider-Man Homecoming is Marvel doing what Marvel does best: snappy one-liners, irreverent humor, and inside gags that make the audience feel in on the joke. The product of a partnership between Sony (which owns the cinematic rights) and Stan Lee's cameo machine, the film takes the lore that every fan already knows completely for granted, which clears the way to tell a fun, truly entertaining story.

 

At it's core this film is a coming of age story, but it's also  unashamedly a teenage movie.  We're not simply sitting there watching Peter Parker learn sobering lessons about maturity and responsibility; instead, the movie goes out of its way to bring the audience closer to his experience as a kid in high school. As viewers, we aren't mentally wagging our fingers at him, because frankly we're having too much fun.

 

Case in point: The Captain America videos are a perfect touch--I mean, who doesn't remember having to watch boring PSAs of adults dumbing down life lessons at some time in their youth?

 

And Peter Parker running through a series of backyards, à la Ferris Bueller? You had me at hello.

 

Homecoming just FEELS like a teenage movie--light, airy, and simple, but hinting at a more complex world just beyond the protagonist's experience level.The irony is, of course, that while Peter Parker calls himself Spider-Man, he's actually still a boy; one teetering on the edge of adulthood, learning that his actions can have far-reaching consequences, and learning that good and evil aren't black and white concepts. Sometimes, the bad guy has a family to feed too.

 

It's also refreshing to see Marvel making a real effort to create super hero movies that reflect diversity. There may be purists who are offended at a non-Caucasian MJ, but to them I say sorry folks, we don't live in 1962 anymore. And though I've read reviews decrying the movie's failure to self-consciously address race and gender, I actually consider this a feature rather than a bug. Does the film take off on side jaunts reflecting on the meaning of gender stereotypes in STEM education? No, of course not. Teenagers don't do that. They just make friends.

 

From my point of view,  Spider-Man Homecoming is the reboot this franchise needed. It's past time to add him to the MCU, and it's way past time to see him  as the kid he's meant to be. Before this summer, I was sick to death of the Spider-Man story. Now, I can't wait to hear more.

 

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