Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland? If you’d asked me that question a few years ago, the answer was 100% Tobey: the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy was the essential viewing of my childhood, the story of a kid – just like me – who was suddenly a superhero. Cut to May 2016 and ask me again: even with only his small role in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland’s younger, more inexperienced Peter Parker showed enough promise to be put up the top. This made Spider-Man: Homecoming one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and now that it’s out, it’s everything that a Spider-man fan could want.
Spider-Man: Homecoming drops us in two months after the events of Civil War, where Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back to normal life… and hating it. Knowing he can do so much more and desperate to prove himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter takes on a group of thugs with more power than he realises, all while trying to survive his biggest challenge: high school. And high school is this film’s biggest asset: reading much more like a John Hughes teen movie than the superhero scale that we’re used to, Homecoming does for Peter Parker what Logan does for the Wolverine – take the character back to its roots and tell an organic story that stays true to comic and character. Through this we get our new iteration of Peter, younger and more immature and carefree, trying to grow up too quickly and come to terms with these new powers that are turning his life upside down. A high school movie also allows the film to dive more into Spidey’s rich history at Midtown High, so we get to see more of characters like Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), Michelle (Zendaya), Liz (Laura Harrier) and Flash (Tony Revolori), an ensemble whose chemistry and comedy make Homecoming a very authentic teen movie. This creates a film that’s not only full of coming of age heart, but so much humour – it might even be the funniest Marvel film to date, staying true to the character’s wise-cracking comic book roots.
Though the film functions first and foremost as a teen movie, there’s still plenty of superheroism to go around. As Peter becomes more determined to impress Tony and become an Avenger, the more dangerous his situation becomes, getting tangled up with Adrian Toomes’ Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his high-tech gang, resulting in tense action and surprising twists that keep the film refreshing for its entire runtime. Fun winks Cap and the Avengers remind us that we’re still in a Marvel movie, but ultimately, Homecoming doesn’t rely on its franchise to produce thrilling stunts and heartfelt moments.
And at the forefront of the film, Tom Holland easily mixes the two: he is far and away the best actor we’ve seen in the role so far, combining the nervous, shy Peter with his more outspoken, witty alter-ego in a way we’ve never seen before. Holland takes his youth and makes it integral to the story, since Peter’s just a kid learning to play in an adult world, and together with Tony Stark’s attempt at mentoring his webbed prodigy (played by a surprisingly heartfelt, austere Robert Downey Jr.), we see the importance of Peter learning his strengths and his limits as someone so you with so much power. And challenging him as the Vulture is Michael Keaton, giving a truly menacing performance; he may be a villain with good reason, as a man put out of business by Tony and the Avengers, but you can still feel Peter’s terror whenever the Vulture descends.
The Spider-Man comics have always asked the question, “What would happen if you gave a 15 year old kid superpowers?” While the other two Spider-Man franchises have produced decent superhero films, they’ve never answered this question as well as Spider-Man: Homecoming does. A combination of Marvel and Sony’s production teams and a witty, fun script; a fantastic cast, and the discovery of one of Marvel’s powerhouses in Tom Holland, have delivered a Spider-Man film we can all be proud of.
Now, here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming;
- Captain America: Civil War – Tom Holland, Robert Downey, Jr., Marisa Tomei and Chris Evans
- The Impossible – Tom Holland
- The Nice Guys – Angourie Rice
- Spotlight – Michael Keaton
- Community – Donald Glover
Photos taken from IMDB.com: