Spider-Man: Homecoming

Hi all, cinéphiles!

It’s been a little while since this blog sees a critical review about a new movie. The last one was a long and in-depth two-hands critic about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
This time it’s an entirely different story because we want to share our very first impressions on a just released movie. The movie is the new chapter — even though technically it’s not what we would call a “reboot” — of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Precisely, it’s the movie coming just after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and whose events tightly bind to what we saw in Captain America: Civil War, where Tom Holland played for the first time the role of a young Peter Parke/Spider-man.
Directed by Jon Watts, the movie also stars Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) together with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) as the adult mentors of the young Peter; they both try to turn off the enthusiasm of Parker believing to be just accepted in the team of the Avengers.

The trailer gives away already a lot about the plot, so we will spend very few words about it (also, this review would like to be spoiler-free). Everything happens right after the civil war within the Avengers themselves finds an almost peaceful resolution. There’s just a quick flashback working as an antecedent: after the global mess in New York originated from Loki’s rebellion and his legions of alien mercenaries — in other words, what happened in The Avengers (2012) — we face Adrian Toomes/Michael Keaton and his salvage company in charge of “cleaning” what’s left. Soon, Stark’s joint venture with the Federal Government drives them out of business, putting the seed for who’s going to be Spider-man’s antagonist this time.
Eight years later, we meet the teenager Parker caught up with many problems: not only all the usual high-school problems (“There’s that girl, you know…”), but also the inner conflict of being a superhero ignored by everyone and his burning desire to be finally recognized as a member of the team of the Avengers. As one may imagine, young Peter’s heroic enthusiasm ends up putting a spoke in the wheel to the wrong person.

Why watching it?

A merit of this movie on the well-known Marvel’s superhero is not to be just another reboot of the saga. Here the whole story of the genesis is not told again, trying to polish and fix the details that did not work well in previous attempts (and not always succeeding in it: the last The Amazing Spider-Man was really clumsy, especially in its second chapter). This spin-off on Spider-man is, instead, part of the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe — precisely the Phase Three, which will culminate with the release of the second part, yet untitled, of The Avengers: Infinity War. Although for writers things may have been a bit easier, this introduced a perceivable imbalance in the weight of the superheroes’ roles, certainly leaning towards Tony Stark’s figure.
The actors are up to the mark, especially Tom Holland and Michael Keaton, here in a dress that certainly suits him. Curiously, Keaton’s role winks to another movie, Iñárritu’s Birdman, in which he interpreted a man with a former career as a superhero movie actor whose alter ego has the traits of an arrogant bird. Keaton manages finally to portray an antagonist worthy of the superhero he faces: perhaps the justification of why he is doomed to be the “evil one” is touched on a bit fast, but it does not compromise the following development of the motivations behind his rise to the position of Spiderman’s nemesis.
On the choice of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, there’s little to say, as Marvel has already proved the success of his character, confirming him as one of the most representative elements of the Avengers’ family. However, the presence of Stark/Iron Man is really ubiquitous, affecting even the Spider-man characteristic traits: with his new high-tech suit uncannily reminiscing Iron Man’s armor, he seems to have forgotten one of his defining superpowers, the spider-sense.
Finally, the rhythm of the film is very well orchestrated: a well-balanced alternation between the light-hearted scenes in Peter’s high school world and those in which Spider-man challenges himself to stand up to his heroic responsibilities. At first, Peter Parker’s Spider-man believes that being accepted as one of the Avengers would make him the hero he is struggling to become; only at the end, he understands that the authentic essence of a superhero goes beyond belonging to a lionized group, the approval of a mentor, or sporting a glossy costume.

Who may dislike?

Among the obvious reasons one might not appreciate this movie, there is the omnipresence of superhero genre in both movies and TV series. Also, although not being a reboot of any saga, Spider-man is probably the most used — and perhaps consumed — character in action movies, and the brand fatigue is starting to kick in. So, if superhero movies are not exactly your “cup of tea”, the film is still solid and well-paced, and it has enough content to be an absolutely enjoyable action movie. For the more experienced fans, it represents a fresh take on Spider-man’s world, giving away many unexpected treats throughout the movie (from Mary Jane to the subtle nods to the Ultimate Spiderman’s Miles Morales).

Wrapping up, in a world full of iterative superhero movies “Spider-man: Homecoming” breaks the formula of the super-hero cycle starter with a lively, action-packed movie which finds the right mix between refreshing an old saga and adding enough content to please long-standing fans.

Our scores: Edoardo 7/10 — Andrea 8/10.

Two big thanks are due here: to Andrea Anelli, a friend who shared this experience of the movie’s preview, and to the Pathé Cinemas in Lausanne to offer us the opportunity.

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