By Zach Goins
After teasing Tom Holland’s take on Spider-Man in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Marvel finally fully revealed its new web-slinger in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Holland was worth the wait.
Move over Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, Holland’s version of Peter Parker is the new champ. With Holland, Marvel has finally found the perfect balance between the goofy and geeky Parker and the charismatic and charming Spidey. Unlike Maguire, Holland actually looks like a high schooler, and while Garfield (my previous favorite) got that part right, he was a little too smooth.
If anything, Holland is the opposite of smooth — which is perfect. That’s how Spidey is supposed to be. While the other two seemed to hone in on their abilities quickly, Holland is still learning the ropes, as he finds himself web-swinging into buildings, using the wrong web shooters and stumbling around.
Holland truly is your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, a point which is emphasized throughout the movie.
In a world of superhero crossover movies and the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was worried that this would become another solo movie filled with heroes. While Tony Stark/Iron Man is featured in the film, along with a brief cameo by Captain America, his presence is felt, but not overpowering. This is indeed Spider-Man’s movie. There are no group smackdowns or superhero team-ups, Spidey is left to take care of business on his own, which is truly appreciated.
As Adrian Toomes/Vulture, Michael Keaton provides a refreshing take on superhero movie villains. Notice I didn’t say super villain, because that’s not Vulture. He’s not an alien, a god, a mad scientist or any other variation of villain we’ve seen in the MCU, he’s just an out-of-work father looking to provide for his family. Keaton has said that he doesn’t even consider Vulture a villain, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a man who is tired of being responsible for the rich’s mistakes (cough, cough, Iron Man) while they live lavish and he suffers. He’s a normal guy with good intentions and redeeming qualities who has decided to take matters into his own hands.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the movie was Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned. Batalon manages to steal every scene he’s in, as the ultra-nerdy and lovable sidekick that every superhero, and high schooler, needs. Whether he’s hacking computers for Spidey or building Legos with Peter, it’s impossible not to crack a smile when Batalon is on screen.
While Zendaya’s role as the sarcastic and indifferent high schooler Michelle wasn’t featured as heavily as I thought it would be, she still serves as another one of the film’s highlights. Plus, it seems like she’ll play a bigger part in what’s to come for both Spidey and Peter.
Although his role is extremely small and fairly insignificant, Donald Glover delivered some of the best lines in the movie as a street criminal looking to buy weapons from Vulture. In a total of about five minutes on screen, Glover gets quite a few laughs.
With “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” Marvel has done it once again. But instead of the massive battles and intertwined (and sometimes confusing) plot lines we’ve become accustomed to, the studio took a much simpler approach, which worked amazingly well. Spider-Man doesn’t have to save the world, he’s just trying to balance the life of a normal high schooler, while still managing to stop a bad guy.
While we’ll get to see Spidey again in next year’s superhero slugfest “Avengers: Infinity War,” I can’t wait to get back to the friendly neighborhood of New York.
Oh, and make sure you stick around after the credits, it’s worth the wait.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.