Year of the Spider – Spider-Man: Homecoming Lives Up to the Hype

Emma Holtz '20, Literary Arts Editor

Peter Parker, fresh from his first “retreat” with the Avengers in Berlin, Germany, now returns back to Queens, New York with only his suitcase and a restless yearning to prove himself worthy of the “Avenger” title. Instead of chilling with Iron Man and his team during the aftermath of a nasty civil war that split the Avengers, Peter finds himself going back to good ol’ Midtown School of Science and Technology as the same shy, geeky sophomore that he tried to leave behind months ago.

The film begins with a homemade video diary which highlights major events from Captain America: Civil War directly from Peter’s perspective on his cell phone. While also generating laughs, the video perfectly sets up the film’s overall “feel”: a story of an ordinary kid living in an extraordinary world and the various ways he juggles high school and his alter-ego, Spider-Man.

If you have ever wondered what happened to all the Chitauri weaponry scattered in New York’s tri-state area from the first Avengers film back in 2012, the question is finally answered with the introduction of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a construction engineer tasked with cleaning up the mess. His plans are suddenly derailed when the Department of Damage Control swoop in and overtake the cleanup operations, leaving Toomes and his crew without a job. He pleads desperately with the Damage Control official, “I bought trucks for this job. I brought in a whole new crew. These guys have a family; I have a family! I’m all in on this, I could lose my house-.” When Damage Control refuses, Toomes stands stunned until provoked by another Damage Control officer who mocks Toomes for “over-extending himself.” The audience only catches a glimpse of Toomes’s fiery temper when he punches the Damage Control superior, but that was only Toomes’s warm-up act. Fed up with Tony Stark’s command of Damage Control leaving his men high and dry, Toomes straps on a pair of metal wings and begins an underground arms business, each weapon crafted from smuggled Chitauri technology: anti-gravity guns and climbers, high-vacuum seals, and a couple black hole grenades.

Many Marvel fans recognize Toomes by his comic book alias: The Vulture. Only a couple people allude to him by this name in the film, but Toomes does not mention the title directly. Marvel’s newest villain uniquely displays a simple motive: to sell illicit weapons under the radar. He doesn’t desire world domination as previous villains like Ultron, Red Skull, or even Loki had. Marvel has reinvented Toomes as a grounded character who desires nothing more than to provide a decent life for his family through any means possible. However, Toomes’s plans are interfered with once again, this time by a kid in high tech red and blue spandex.

Spider-Man graces the big screen once again in Homecoming, this being the third reboot of the character in 15 years. Sony’s solo ventures with the character in Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man series both ended bitterly, one falling apart in the third installment while the other was abruptly cut short with only two films. However, the payoff of a deal between Marvel Studios and Sony allowing Spidey go for a spin in the MCU was much sweeter by the level of performance in Homecoming. Upcoming actor Tom Holland brings a childish wonder and curiosity to Peter Parker that had never been explored in the previous films. Holland first showed promise in his brief screen time in Civil War when he was only 19 years old. In Homecoming, Holland’s portrayal of the webslinger perfectly mixes Spider-Man’s confidence and strength with Peter’s shy, awkward nature. He brings on the charm for those iconic and witty one-liners while encompassing all ranges of emotion needed for action sequences or heartfelt moments that shape Peter’s character arc throughout the film. After all, Peter’s only 15 years old. His suit doesn’t protect him from every blow.

As well as creating a memorable Spider-Man, Marvel has upped its diversity game considerably. Peter’s classmates at Midtown Tech represent people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Director Jon Watts mentioned in press interviews that he wanted to represent the diversity of Queens in Homecoming, and he definitely delivered. Each classmate offers something fresh and new to the plot while keeping the film grounded and genuine.

The importance of family and friends is greatly emphasized in the film. Ned Leeds, played by Jacob Batalon, could arguably be the best addition to Homecoming. His obsession with Star Wars Lego sets and his borderline annoying but hilarious fascination with Peter’s powers scream “best friend goals.” Marisa Tomei’s casting as Peter’s Aunt May also came as quite a shock for a majority of fans. Tomei’s youthful portrayal adds a kind of spunk to the character that had not been seen in a Spider-Man film until now, from making puns during dinner to looking up a video on how to tie and a tie for Peter’s homecoming dance.

Overall, Marvel seems to hit all the right notes in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Everything from the action scene pacing to the soundtrack (Michael Giacchino’s orchestral score mixed with throwbacks like Save it for Later by The English Beat, Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones, and The Underdog by Spoon) all tell one story about a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and his struggle to choose between being a regular teenager and taking on the responsibility and risk that becoming Spider-Man entails. We have not seen the last of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, it’s only the beginning. Only time will tell how he will fare up against Thanos in the highly-anticipated Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War in May 2018. Until then, let’s allow Peter to bask in his $879,686,999 worldwide and domestic box office success for a while.