First, let me say re-visiting Spider-Man: Homecoming after watching No Way Home is an incredibly painful and heartbreaking experience. I recommend proceeding at your own risk. However, emotional pain and all, Spider-Man: Homecoming was an undeniably sweet entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It made a huge impact with fans of Marvel’s most well-known web-slinger, and was a worthy standalone for a beloved character.
After introducing the MCU’s version of this character in Captain America: Civil War, fans knew we were in for something special. It was incredibly smart of Marvel to eliminate the classic origin story of the teenager being bitten by the radioactive spider, or at least showing it on screen. Seeing Uncle Ben get shot by a robber has almost reached the level of parody in popular culture that seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents assassinated in an alley has. Uncle Ben’s death has been so overdone by so many versions of Spider-Man over the years, that it was all the more poignant to leave this part of Peter Parker’s backstory unsaid, and simply show his life with his beloved guardian Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).
So much has been written about Tom Holland’s version of this beloved hero. Right from his first outings, he brought an earnestness that has served him well in each and every entry. It’s Holland’s authenticity that has stood in even the most vast projects of the MCU. He can play a street-level teenage superhero to perfection. His desire to leave the mundane of his every day, including the Spanish quizzes and high school band is a relatable one. His enthusiasm for everything about this character comes through in every scene in his first solo movie, and he managed to convince so many fans that yes, maybe it’s okay to have yet another Spider-Man franchise led by this lovable leading man.
Michael Keaton played the role of the main villain, the Vulture, with an expertise and finesse that only he could. The former Batman was as sympathetic as he was predatory. The car scene in particular was so incredibly menacing and effective. The big reveal that he was Liz’s dad all along still stuck such a chord, even when rewatching Homecoming for the umpteenth time. Even when waxing poetic about his kind-of-but-not-really sensical motivations, he was just so captivating to watch in every scene. The door is definitely open for this character to return, which made him a refreshing change to Marvel’s villain problem. We don’t know if we’ll ever see Morbius, but I for one would welcome Keaton’s return in any future Spidey adventure.
The supporting characters surrounding Peter Parker were nothing less than stellar. Ned (Jacob Batalon) is the definition of loyalty, and is the exact person you would want to be your “guy in the chair”. Liz (Laura Harrier) had a sweet storyline, but it was ultimately disappointing that this character with a lot of potential was never allowed to be anything more than the hero’s love interest or a damsel in distress. This was our first introduction to Zendaya as MJ. So many fans criticized this portrayal, but honestly, Zendaya made it work. We got to see glimpses of the character’s personality that it was too bad we didn’t see more of in this movie. However, in subsequent entries, Zendaya has made this character her own with fantastic results.
The adults surrounding Peter Parker are also worthy of note. Happy Hogan’s (Jon Favreau) complete inability to connect with or relate to a teenager is incredibly relatable. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) was such an endearing father figure, and I really can’t say any more without bursting into tears thinking about this too hard. Marisa Tomei is such a phenomenal Aunt May and I also can’t think too much about her without absolutely weeping having seen No Way Home. We also got a tease of a future Spidey mentor in the form of Donald Glover’s appearance as the assumed uncle of Miles Morales.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was such a sweet and sincere solo introduction to the MCU’s iteration of this character. The cast came together in such a beautiful way. A takeaway from our first look in Captain America: Civil War was that Tom Holland was going to be something special. His first solo outing absolutely did not disappoint.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is currently available to stream on Netflix.