Note: This review is totally spoiler-free, and no plot points are explicitly referenced. However, we would still recommend you go into this film knowing as little as possible – in short, it’s great. A spoiler-filled discussion article will be published this Sunday (9th July).
It’s incredible that we haven’t been affected by Spider-Man fatigue yet. Cinemagoers have seen wildly different incarnations of the wall-crawler, varying substantially in quality, but with the latest version, Homecoming, all these fears are eradicated. Spider-Man has finally hit his stride, making this one of his best cinematic outings yet.
The biggest concern surrounding such frequent reboots of the Spider-Man property is that the character would grow stale, but this isn’t the case with Homecoming. Tom Holland is sublime as the webhead, making a strong claim for the best on-screen Spidey (and Peter Parker) yet. He was great in Civil War, but being the focus of Homecoming allows Holland to show his range as an actor, which he does excellently. Peter goes through a lot in this film, and Holland makes us believe it all. You can tell he’s having spectacular fun playing Spider-Man, which permeates onto the screen, and his electric chemistry with others, notably with Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), helps bring out some really strong performances.
Worth a mention is the film’s antagonist Vulture, played by Batman veteran Michael Keaton. I won’t spoil anything here, but he’s one of the best-handled and fleshed-out villains we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. His motivations are reasoned and humane, and the way his character is tied into the film’s plot is a stroke of genius, creating some of Homecoming‘s most absorbing moments. Keaton handles the role well, crafting a ruthless villain with a human side to him, but is perhaps not given enough to do to show his acting chops.
Homecoming‘s tone is perhaps where issues arise: it can’t decide whether it’s a comedy or an action-thriller, a high-school movie or a superhero flick, and it makes the experience somewhat inconsistent. Generally, the same tone is maintained throughout thanks to the terrific screenplay. Some great comedic minds came together to write this script, and Homecoming is laugh-out-loud funny because of it, but at times this direction is somewhat compromised. In these instances, it feels like an entirely different film, which is at times rather jarring, but director John Watts generally keeps the movie balanced.
Before Homecoming‘s release, many were concerned about how it would tie into the extended Marvel lore, with a particular fear being that Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man would dominate proceedings. This certainly isn’t a problem – he acts more to catalyse events rather than to dominate them, and since Downey’s performance is as captivating as ever, he never overstays his welcome. Links to Civil War, and the ramifications of it, are subtle but certainly noticeable, and there are some brilliant moments sprinkled throughout that are sure to please those that have invested into the MCU.
After impressing so much in Civil War, expectations were astronomical for Homecoming, and thankfully, fans will not be disappointed in the slightest. The film is charming, rammed with thrilling action, and has one of the most unique plots in the superhero genre. Marvel’s gamble to work alongside Sony to revitalise Spider-Man after a series of duds has certainly paid off: Spidey is back where he belongs, and he’s never been better.