REVIEW: “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is Fun, But Is It Spider-Man?

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Look Out! Here Comes The Spider-Man!

But……He Aint My Spider-Man.

Have you ever seen a movie that you feel gets so much right but also gets so much wrong? That is Spider-Man: Homecoming for me. And I am completely torn because as movie, this is a really great and fun movie. But as a fan of Spider-Man, I couldn’t help but wonder at times, what was Marvel thinking?

I’ve been a fan of Spider-Man basically for as long as I can remember. Someone says Marvel to me and the first thought that comes into my mind is Spider-Man. What was so great about him was that he was one of the first superheroes that was relateable to kids because he was one of them. He wasn’t a millionaire. He was not chosen by the Gods to defend the Earth. He lived with his aunt and uncle in Queens. Peter experienced the same issues that most of us had to deal with in school. Peter had to deal with homework, high school crushes, bullying, and like every kid, he just wanted to be liked by his fellow students. But Peter’s life changed for him the day he was bitten by a radioactive spider that gave him super hero strength and the abilities of a spider, like crawling on walls, incredible reflexes and spider-sense. And if you have to sum up why Peter is Spider-Man, it comes down to the advice he received from his Uncle Ben when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. That is something that Peter once took for granted when he first became Spider-Man, but it became a powerful lesson for him after his choice resulted in the death of Uncle Ben.

After Marvel had some major financial problems, they decided to sell the film rights to most of their superheroes in order to stay afloat. Sony acquired the film rights for Spider-Man back in 1999 for a measly $7 million dollars. If Marvel were to ever acquire the Spider-Man movie rights back from Sony, it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion or more dollars. Without a doubt, Spider-Man is the face of the Marvel Universe and Disney has been dying to reclaim their poster child back ever since they purchased Marvel back in 2009 for $4 billion. It’s like Disney having Goofy, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse and Pluto, but no Mickey. And although there have been 5 Spider-Man movies made under Sony, and they have each made a ton of money for the company, they just are not as beloved as movies with lesser know characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Marvel has always had excellent writers for their movies and they just seem to get the characters more than studios like Sony and Fox (who own the rights to X-Men, Wolverine, Fantastic Four and Deadpool). Luckily the fates aligned and Sony and Marvel came up with a deal that would mutually benefit both companies. This allowed Spider-Man to become part of the MCU and he first debuted in Captain America: Civil War, which was the best reception he has seen since he has been on the big screen. Sony gets all the profits and Marvel has creative control of the character and the fans get to see Spider-Man with The Avengers. Everyone is happy! Maybe not Disney though…

Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place right after the events of Civil War. Tony (Robert Downy Jr.) and Happy (Jon Favreau) drop Peter (Tom Holland) off at his Aunt May’s (Marisa Tomei) apartment and Tony let’s Peter know that he can keep the suit that he used during the airport battle in Civil War. Peter was given a taste as to what it is like to be an Avenger and he cant wait for his next mission. Only problem is that it is starting to seem that Tony really doesn’t need him as Spider-Man anymore. Peter decides to take to the streets of Queens in his new duds as Spider-Man and finds it’s not all it was cracked up to be. Peter finally encounters The Vulture (Michael Keaton) and this new villain gives him a lot more trouble than your regular bank robbers. Peter is obsessed with taking The Vulture down, but things go from bad to worse and Tony decides that it was too early for him to have given Peter the suit and takes it away from him. Now Peter needs to win back the respect of Tony as well as prevent the Vulture from achieving his ultimate goal.

As a film, I think it’s great and it’s a lot of fun. Its got an interesting story, great actors (for the most part), its got comedy and its got Spider-Man, and a special guest star in Iron Man. Marvel needed to come on board because Sony just never got Spider-Man or his villains right, with maybe the exception of Spider-Man 2. This is the first Spider-Man that really feels like it fits in with the MCU. I love that Marvel seems to feel in their movies that they need to first get the story right and then make sure that they have their characters properly represented, but as a Spider-Man fan, I feel Marvel, who is supposed to know the character, really dropped the ball at times. My biggest problem is Spider-Man’s suit. It is too tech heavy and he relies far too much on the enhancements that the suit has to do his job than to just be Spider-Man. Spider-Man’s suit was always a symbol and used to hide his identity. It was never a tool and never should be.

Is this a view from Iron Man’s mask or Spider-Man’s? Unfortunately it’s the later.

Some minor spoilers relating to the suit follows. Peter finds out that although his suit can do many things, there are additional abilities that are blocked by a program that Tony installed called the “Training Wheels” protocol. Once he hacks and disables that protocol, he unlocks every ability of the suit and he is basically Iron Man without the armor.

OK, so I am going to try and list as many functions and abilities that I was able to remember (took notes while watching the movie) that Spider-Man’s suit has:

  • Karen – a built in AI program that acts a therapist and relationship expert to Peter.
  • Droney – an overly cute drone called that flies around and behaves like R2D2.
  • An Iron Man like built in user interface.
  • 576 web shooter combinations including taser webs, grenade webs and ricochet webs.
  • Reconnaissance mode that tracks criminals.
  • Advance combat mode (which I assume makes him fight in different fighting styles).
  • Advanced interrogation mode that alters Peter’s voice to sound like Christian Bale’s Batman.
  • Instant kill mode that assists him in killing all of the enemies around him.
  • Enhanced X-ray vision.
  • Enhanced magnification vision.
  • Enhanced thermal (heat) sensors.
  • Vacuum sealing suit.
  • Parachute that comes out of his back spider symbol.
  • Spider wings that acts as a glider.
  • Built in heater.
  • Built in camera that records everything Peter sees.
  • Mobile phone.
  • Face time with Tony Stark.
  • Built in GPS.

The tech in this suit is just too much. And although I love the look of the suit, and missed it when he went back to his home made suit, I just wish it was “just” a suit. I really feel that Marvel failed at getting Spider-Man totally right for once. Not a complete failure, and they definitely got more things right than wrong, but to me this was a big thing. I can understand if it might not be a big thing for everyone though, but it is to me. Marvel was so focused on tying Spider-Man to the MCU that they forgot who he really was and he kind of came off as Iron Man’s Boy Wonder at times. I also missed Spider-Man web swinging through the city. I understand that since this took place in Queens, that there were not tall building and skyscrapers that he could normally swing from. I really didn’t want to see him running down the street after criminals or driving in a car, especially in his Spidey suit. It may be more realistic but it’s just not as much fun to see as him swinging throughout the city.

This scene is not in the movie but shown in every trailer.

It was cool to see Iron Man in the movie and I do think that it is great that Spider-Man will be now popping up in future Avenger movies, but does Spider-Man really need to be an Avenger? Nope. Spider-Man for the most part is a solo act. Sure they will team him up with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in the comics, but that is mostly to boost their sales. Spider-Man is more of a solo superhero. His story is far more interesting when it is about himself and he is not part of a team or a sidekick. I know they added Iron Man to this film in order to help increase ticket sales and Spider-Man’s popularity in the films but Marvel just needed to get Spider-Man right without gimmicks and special guest stars.

So far, I know I ragged pretty hard on the movie, but like I originally said, on it’s own it is a very good, a funny film and one you should really see. Tom Holland is a fantastic actor and he does such a great job in this movie. Toby McGuire was a great Peter Parker but not the best Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield was a great Spider-Man but an awful Peter Parker. This kid nails both sides of the coin, and from the moment he is on screen, he is Peter and he is Spider-Man. You also have Jacob Batalon who plays Peter’s best friend Ned and if not for Holland’s great performance, he almost steals the show. Of course you have Robert Downey Jr returning as Tony Stark, but surprisingly everything you have seen in trailers and TV spots is mostly the amount of time he has on screen. And there is very little Iron Man at all. And I think that is smart because Iron Man should not always be there to bail him out. Spider-Man has to fight his own battles and overcome his own obstacles.  Downey as usual does a great performance as Tony Stark but was he really worth $40 million for I think less than 15 minutes of screen time? Also Tony and Happy (Jon Favreau), for the most part, are both real jerks throughout this movie.

I though Michael Keaton was great as The Vulture and his performance is definitely up there with Tom Hiddelston’s take on Loki as one of the best villains in the MCU. But to me, Keaton did appear more menacing in the trailers then he did on screen and I would have liked to have seen him more psychotic and threatening. They definitely added some sympathy to Keaton’s character, but I appreciate that he was so smart and calculating. I wasn’t that impressed with the mechanics of The Vulture. Felt it was too mechanical and almost like an Iron Man suit with maybe some stolen Falcon parts. I like that we only had one villain instead of throwing in as many villains and story lines as possible. This had two story lines. Stopping The Vulture and Peter at school, and that was great. And yes, there are some familiar villains names from the comics that appear, but they were very low key. The main baddie was The Vulture.

The musical score was disappointing. Guess it was better than most of the scores in the MCU but Michael Giacchino is a great composer and felt he just mailed this score in with very little effort. Maybe there is a theme, but nothing memorable. Was hoping that he was going to knock it out of the park but nope.

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May: just a complete waste. I did not like her at all and did not buy that everyone and their brother was in love with her. She wasn’t overused but just felt that she really added nothing to the movie. I will admit that she did have the best line in the picture at the very end though.

Both Marvel and Sony said from the very start that they were going to focus less on Peter’s romances, like they did with every single Spider-Man movie before, and make it more like a John Hughes film with Peter dealing with everyday life, getting in trouble with his friends and just growing up. And they definitely accomplished that. There was some romance in this movie but it definitely wasn’t major. The story was more about Peter wanting to impress Tony and being accepted by his school mates. And Peter and Ned were a whole lot of fun. This movie also reminded me of a PG version of Superbad too and I love that movie. Definitely some nice comedy and light moments and superhero movies like Spider-Man need to be fun and not dark and foreboding like Batman.

There are two after credit scenes once the film is over. One appears shortly after the movie is over, and the other one is at the very end after the last credit roles. The first one is more tied to this story and a potential reveal of a new, well known villain in the comics, and the second one is more of a big joke, but it is actually funny and thought it was worth it to stick around. Just don’t expect anything shocking or revealing.

With all of the negatives that I said, I still liked this movie as a whole, especially the performances and the humor. Tom Holland really knocks it out of the park with his portrayal of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker. And you have to love Jacob Batalon as Ganke, I mean Ned (some will get that reference). What really bothered me most was Spider-Man’s “tech heavy”suit. Spider-Man is not Iron Man and at times that is what they tried to make him out to be in this movie. Big mistake on Marvel’s part. Definitely go see it and bring the kids and have a great time!

I give Spider-Man: Homecoming a 7/10. If they would have gotten the suit right, an 8 for sure.

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About the author

Joe Hogarty

Joe moved from New York to Florida back in 1997. He currently resides in St. Petersburg and visits the parks frequently. His first visit to the Magic Kingdom was when he was 8 years old back in 1974. Joe originally originally started as a photographer for WDWNT and is now the host of WDWNT: Nerd Alert, our movie reviewer and reports the news for WDWNT.

10 Comments

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  • I thought the movie was really fun as well, and I agree that the suit was a bit much. However, the story itself is technically “cannon” and was in the comic books in the last few years.

  • Just got back from WDW so I haven’t seen the movie yet. However, I am also a massive Marvel fan, and from your description it sounds like though it looks like the classic suit is probably closer to the “Iron Spider” suit from the original Civil War comic storyline. Since Spidey was a cameo, I feel like they combined a bit of the Tony/Peter relationship from that story (when he was a regular Avenger) with the tech stories from Amazing Spider-Man #2 (Vulture and Tinkerer) to graft the universe building of the MCU with the John Hughes high school vibe that was SORELY missing in the other versions. And as an adult, Spidey’s tech side has been a focus of the character for the last ten years (working at Horizon labs, Superior Spider-Man, Parker Industries, etc.). Hopefully the movie will be as good as many have said.

  • It was a fun movie. It’d be perfect if they just erase that constipated, PC black MJ and the Italian hottie aunt May

  • I never saw the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies – didn’t see a need to, since the Tobey Maguire trio seemed to work just fine IMO and they’re still in recent memory for lots of us. I like the new kid, though, from his scenes in CapAm Civil War. Sounds like the supersuit is overdone (Stark overdoes a lot of stuff anyway), and why does Aunt May get to be younger this time around? I saw her in Civil War and wondered that. I never read the comics. So far I’m impressed with all the MCU movies so we’ll see this one, too. Been trying to go since we got back from Disneyland last week but haven’t made it to the theater yet.

  • The movie is great! The suit has AI so instead of ridiculous thought bubbles you can get Peter’s thoughts via those conversations. The suit is also supposed to be over the top so the young teenager learns how to be a hero. So much of these young high school character beats are perfect and pulled from the older comics. This is by far the best spider man movie yet!

  • I have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming three times now and it keeps getting better and better. I’m definitely an old school Spider-Man fan and that definitely affected my review of the film. The last time I watched it I looked it more as Spider-Man in the MCU and just accepted that things dont always match perfectly with the comic books in the MCU. Still have issues with the tech suit being a little too much and not a fan of Flash, Michelle and Aunt May but Tom Holland has chemistry with everyone in this movie. He is the best Spider-Man we have seen on screen. Keaton is such a great bad guy and RDJ is OK but getting tired of him. Peter’s friend Ned is a great addition to the story. Cant wait for Infinity War to see him again.

  • As someone said before, the story is cannon but that does not make necessarily good or bad either. Like many old fans, Toby’s performance and overall story sticked with me, so everything else looks like a weird adaptation. I am familiar with many Spider-man storylines presented in Marvel comics, at least the most rated ones (https://www.geekgift.uk/10-best-spiderman-comics-you-must-read/) and I know Homecoming means well, but I simply did not feel it.

    I like to think they just want to appeal to a bigger, younger audience who is not stucked in the past.