The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had an interesting life on the big screen so far, but as of late things have clearly not been up to par. Through three films of the MCU’s Phase Three there hasn’t been a clear winner. Captain America: Civil War had some great sequences but was ultimately overstuffed. Doctor Strange was an unoriginal disappointment, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 just could not live up to its predecessor. Phase Three’s latest film, however, gives the series some hope again. Spider-man: Homecoming is an enjoyable if insignificant film that captures enough Marvel magic to make you believe that there is still life left in this franchise.
Spider-man: Homecoming picks up with the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to readjust to everyday life after being asked on a mission by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Avengers. When Peter catches onto an illegal alien technology trading ring, he thinks it’s just the thing to convince the Avengers to make his alter ego Spider-man a permanent member of the Avengers. However, his snooping attracts the attention of the man behind the illegal trading ring, the Vulture (Michael Keaton).
Spider-man at this point has to be the most filmed character of this Golden Age of cinematic superheroes. So it’s hard for something new or interesting to come out of another film about him. This film certainly struggles to find a style that sets it apart from other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (and doesn’t even come close to having the cinematic gravitas that Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-man movies do). However, a sleek and effective screenplay written by six writers (including director Jon Watts) makes sure that this film is able to breathe life. It has just the right balance of comedy and drama (as well as the ever important use of mythology in these films) to make it work like the better comic book movies do.
The actors in this film are, for the most part, an exciting bunch. Tom Holland finally seems to be growing into this role. The burst of excitement that he was in Civil War is fleshed out into a complete character in this one and Holland delivers with a more nuanced performance. Most of the rest of the supporting cast is wasted, and that includes an odd bunch of Robert Downey Jr., Zendaya and Donald Glover. However, the film does include a pair of scene-stealers. Michael Keaton is quite strong as the main antagonist. That’s mostly because a lot of care was clearly taken into writing the character, but Keaton does his fair share of heavy lifting in bringing the character to life. Additionally, any Marvel movie that happens to have Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan in it is made all the better for his appearance. Favreau is one of the best comedic foils that this series has.
Spider-man: Homecoming isn’t top tier Marvel but it’s a charming adventure that you can’t complain too much with.