Film review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Can this umpteenth reboot of Marvel’s best-loved character get moviegoers’ spider-senses tingling? Michael Moran investigates…


Spider-Man: Homecoming is the fifth Spider-Man film. Sixth if you include Spidey’s brief cameo in Captain America: Civil War and ninth if you also include the three frankly rather lame TV movies made in the late seventies with former Sound Of Music star Nicholas Hammond.

And this one’s the best by such a margin that it makes all its predecessors, entertaining as they may have been, altogether irrelevant.

There’s more than one homecoming in the film. First, young Peter Parker (your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man) has come home from the Battle of Berlin, as seen in the last Captain America film and recapped in a fun video diary here,

Secondly Spider-Man is ‘coming home’ to Marvel Studios in an unusual co-production with franchise owners Sony, and finally one of the film’s pivotal scenes takes place at a high school homecoming dance.

Yes, high school. At 15 this is the youngest Peter Parker we’ve seen on screen, truer to the character’s origins as well as making good commercial sense for the future of the franchise.

That gives the film as much of the atmosphere of a classic John Hughes movie like The Breakfast Club as it does a standard ‘tights and fights’ narrative.

Tom Holland is terrific in the role, amply supported by Jacob Batalan as the novice superhero’s best pal and confidante. His love interest, champion mathlete Liz, is also nicely drawn. Laura Harrier plays her with a complexity you don’t always see in action movies.

But the key supporting players here are Robert Downey Jnr as Peter’s inspiration and mentor Tony Stark and Michael Keaton as technically gifted weapons peddler Adrian Toomes.

Coming as it does after his memorable turns in the Batman films and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning Birdman it’s a performance freighted with audience expectation.

Every hero needs a good villain and Keaton is outstanding. Sympathetic and yet ruthless, ingenious and yet flawed.

The Vulture is one of Spidey’s sillier villains in the source comics and director Jon Watts (and a five-strong team of writers) have turned him into a fine, memorable and dangerously likeable antagonist.

The stakes are lower than we’ve got used to of late. The fate of the galaxy isn’t in the balance, just the fortunes of a super-powered teenager fighting street-level criminals. The change of pace only adds to the movie’s appeal.

Throw in a maxi-sized cameo from Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/Iron Man and a welter of references to classic comicbooks and other films in the Avengers canon and you’ve got a well-nigh perfect little film that leaves you wanting more.

Speaking of ‘more’ – as this is a Marvel production there is of course a self-referentially witty after-credits tag. Wait until the very end!

Spider-Man: Homecoming is in cinemas across the UK on July 5.

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