Directed by Jon Watts
Screen Story by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley
Screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes
Jacob Batalon as Ned
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Zendaya as Michelle
Laura Harrier as Liz
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Tony Revolori as Flash
Spider-Man had a pretty great streak going filmwise. The first Sam Raimi film was a game changer for the genre, the second film is one of the greatest comic book sequels ever made, but then Sony had to come along and force too much into the third film. Spider-Man 3 is a movie that I don't find to be terrible like many people do, but it is too bloated and unfocused. It's too bad they didn't just let Sam Raimi do what he wanted, because we could have had a near perfect trilogy for the beloved web-slinger. Jump ahead five years later and Sony decided to reboot the series by giving it a darker tone with Andrew Garfield taking over the lead role. Say what you will about Spider-Man 3, but The Amazing Spider-Man is one of the most dull, flat, uninteresting comic book films I have ever seen. I didn't even bother seeing the sequel, which I heard was even worse. Thankfully, Sony's proposed Spider-Man cinematic universe failed after the second film under performed and did poorly critically. That's when Marvel Studios stepped in and made a deal with Sony to integrate the character into their expanding cinematic universe. It was definitely the right move because Peter Parker had an excellent introduction in Captain America: Civil War and his first solo MCU movie is easily the best Spider-Man movie to date. Spider-Man: Homecoming comes as a much needed new direction for the character and it's incredibly satisfying.
Tom Holland was awesome in the amount of screentime he had in Captain America: Civil War and he's only gotten better with this film. He is the perfect actor for the role. Toby Maguire was a solid Peter Parker, but his Spider-Man was perhaps a bit lacking at times. Holland balances both roles flawlessly. I think he is, as of now, the definitive actor to play the character. The makers of this film know exactly how to do Spider-Man right. He is constantly giving up his social life to be a superhero and he ends up saving the villain's life in the end. To me, that is Spider-Man. As for the Peter Parker scenes, they are equally great. I'm thoroughly satisfied with the journey that he goes through in this film. He's still learning to be a hero and I'm glad that he turns down the one thing that he's wanted for the whole film. He realizes that he isn't ready to be an Avenger, because he's grown as a character. He's nearly killed by Adrian Toomes, just because he's so eager to stop him. It makes for one of the best scenes in the film. His panic attack under the rubble is an accurate portrayal of what anxiety can feel like and then seeing him encourage himself to keep going is one of the most inspirational moments in the film. At the end of the film he's not as eager to push things further so quickly and that he still wants to have a somewhat normal life. He still wants to look out for the little guy, just like he said back in Captain America: Civil War. It'll be cool to see him become an Avenger in Avengers: Infinity War, but I'm glad he's learned some good lessons. It's very much in character.
It's also nice to see the diversity of students portrayed in this film. Liz, Michelle, Ned, Flash, and several of the academic decathlon team members are all played by people of color. It's nice to see these characters represented differently from their white comic counterparts. Also, a school in New York would have a variety of different ethnicities in it. I think all of the actors portray their roles quite well. Liz is more than just the love interest. Most of the movie focuses her on being involved in the academic decathlon and other school activities. Flash Thompson is a verbal bully instead of a physical one, which is good to see. In more recent times those are the kinds of bullies that are in schools now as opposed to the jocks portrayed in the early comics. Ned is great in the best friend role. He and Peter have what feels like a genuine friendship, which Peter and Harry were kind of lacking in the Sam Raimi films. You can tell they care for each other and have each other's backs. I enjoy that Ned actually gets to help Peter in the third act. He gets to be Peter's guy in the chair and if not for that, Peter would not have gotten to Adrian Toomes in time.
Michelle is one of my favorite characters in the film. While she isn't Mary Jane, she's still MJ since her name is Michelle Jones. I think Zendaya has really solid comedic chops and I like that she's a more laid back character. If she is to become the main love interest in future films, I am all for it. We've had three movies with Mary Jane Watson and two with Gwen Stacy, so I'd say it's time for a new love interest for this series.
Another update I'm happy with is a younger Aunt May portrayed by Marisa Tomei. She may not be the old woman caricature from the comics, but the base of the character is still there. Her and Peter have a nice relationship and it's good to see her do some care taking for Peter in the film like when she's preparing him for homecoming night or when she comforts him after he loses his suit. She also has maybe the best final line in any of the MCU films. I always get a good laugh out of that any time I watch the movie.
Robert Downey Jr. is only in about four scenes in the entire film and it's just the right amount of Tony Stark for this movie. He steps into the mentor role well. I love his and Peter's relationship. I feel like it's Marvel's way of passing the torch from the original hero to its newest one. It's nice to see him somewhat recovered after the events of Captain America: Civil War. He genuinely cares for Peter and wants him to excel and be successful. The scene where he takes Peter's suit away makes for an excellent story beat and it ups the excitement, because Peter has to learn to do more without it. I think the updated Stark Tech suit is a cool addition to Peter's character and I'm glad that he doesn't know how to fully use it.
Michael Keaton is one of my absolute favorite actors and his portrayal of Adrian Toomes makes for probably the best villain a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie has ever had. The best part of the character is that he's humanized. I like that he resorts to being a criminal only after he lost his job. He's a middle class working guy wanting to provide for his family. The reveal of him being Liz's dad is genius writing. It leads to the film's most tense scene and it just makes the third act all the more investing. I also like that the one guy he kills is completely accidental. It also helps that Keaton is incredibly charismatic. The best villains in Spider-Man's rogue's gallery are the ones who are humanized. It's why Otto Octavius is the best villain in the Sam Raimi films. With Adrian Toomes, you get exactly where he's coming from and he's far more interesting because you relate to him.
I'm also happy with the side antagonists in this film. While movies like Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had too many villains packed into one film, this movie wisely uses its side villains as part of Toomes' crew. Shocker and the Tinkerer don't need to be fully focused on. Toomes is enough of a solid villain for this movie, so I like that the other two are just guys who are doing their jobs. Shocker is Toomes' muscle and Tinkerer is the guy who makes the weapons that they're selling to criminals. It's a simple, yet proper amount of focus on these characters.
The action sequences are appropriately grounded. It's nice to see scenes like these in a Spider-Man film, because they're unique and not similar to those of the past films. He is more of a street crime hero after all. The Washington Monument sequence shows how he has to get somewhere without the aid of surrounding skyscrapers, the ferry sequence shows when he underestimates a situation, and the final fight does a great job of showing his determination.
Michael Giacchino returns to the MCU to compose the score for this film. It's not quite as memorable as his Doctor Strange score, but after a few listens I have picked up the themes and melodies more and it's become one of my favorites in the MCU. It fits Spider-Man well and the main theme is pretty uplifting. Here's a nice Marvel suite that was performed at Giacchino's 50th birthday celebration concert.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is the happiest I have ever been with a film starring my all-time favorite character. Tom Holland is a perfect Peter Parker, the movie doesn't feel by the numbers nor tired and worn out, but instead refreshing and exciting. It's one of the most grounded films of the MCU and that's what it makes it stand out among the current wave of comic book films. It captures the essence of the wall crawler and his world flawlessly and it reminds of the feeling I had growing up reading the original comics. It's wonderful to have him home at Marvel where he belongs.