Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) is the second reboot of the first superstar of the 21st century superhero boom since Sam Raimi’s hit trilogy and this time Sony (who still owns the movie rights) has handed the creative reins over to Marvel Studios and allowed them to integrate the webslinger into the Marvel Comics Movie Universe.
Tom Holland actually made his big screen debut as Spider-Man, once again a hapless high school kid just like in the original comics, in Captain American: Civil War, recruited by Tony Stark to be his secret weapon against Captain America’s rebel heroes. After holding his own in his big league try-out, Holland carries Spider-Man: Homecoming with the youthful spirit of a high school brainiac nerd with the fresh charge of superpowers he’s still mastering, the unseasoned hero eager to impress reluctant mentor Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and make the leap from the streets of Queens to the big leagues of The Avengers.
This film wisely dispenses with the whole origin story and reintroduces us to the rookie wall crawler by revisiting his Civil War coming out party from the excited kid’s point-of-view via Parker’s camera-phone. It’s a perfect entry into this variation on the Marvel house style, capturing not just the charge but the culture of social engagement of a high school kid, a YouTube take on superhero spectacle in the first person. He expects a call to join The Avengers any day but in the meantime he’s back to the day-to-day struggles of teenage Peter Parker balancing his neighborhood crime-fighting (now in a state-of-the-art suit designed by Stark) with homework, curfew, and his increasingly torn allegiances between his civilian commitments and his costumed ambitions. His supervillain nemesis, small businessman turned technology pirate The Vulture (Michael Keaton), is no maniacal genius bent on world domination but a working class engineer whose livelihood is threatened by what he sees as unnecessary bureaucratic interference. He’s just a guy trying to get ahead, and if it means turning alien technology into specialized weapons for the New York underworld, then that’s simply the new frontier of free enterprise.
Directed by Jon Watt (Cop Car) from a screenplay co-written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, this is a more down-to-earth Marvel movie befitting the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He’s got the wise-cracking patter of a smart but earnest kid raised on pop culture, a crush on the debate team beauty (Zendaya), a best buddy (Jacob Batalon) who geeks out on his powers, a smarmy high school nemesis (Tony Revolori) who does his bullying through social humiliation, and a supportive Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) who is nobody’s fool. All of that grounds this junior superhero. Holland has the excitable spirit and impatience of a teenage kid desperate to prove his mettle to the adults and Downey plays Tony Stark as the flawed father figure you knew the former playboy would be, unable to deal with the roiling mix of intelligence, ambition, earnestness, impulsiveness, and teenage hormones supercharged by Spidey power. He’s the new kid on the block, the young, unseasoned superhero who looks up to the Avengers, and he’s still growing as a person.
A lot of fans of the classic hero have complained that this isn’t their Spider-Man. That may be true, but the strength of Marvel’s big screen run has been to borrow elements from the vast spectrum of stories from the given character’s four-color existence to create a distinctive cinematic incarnation. Spider-Man: Homecoming mixes old and new in fresh ways, adding in the spirit of “Ultimate Spider-Man” and the superhero universe of the “Civil War” comics, complete with superhero father figure Tony Stark, to the foundation of the original 1960s series. That won’t mean much to anyone who isn’t steeped in comic lore and it doesn’t need to. I bring it up to suggest that this big screen take is ready to send the hero in different directions than past movies while maintaining the spirit of the stories that made Spider-Man the first superhero that its teenage fans could actually relate to. And that is the essence that makes this work. It’s not groundbreaking or transcendent or particularly original, but it has great action and a lot of appropriate humor, delivering the appropriate spectacle while capturing the charge of youthful enthusiasm, the torment of teenage anxiety, and the aspirations of a smart, ambitious kid who wants to be treated like an adult and discovers just what that means. The classic “With great power comes great responsibility” theme is never spoken aloud here but the lesson is effectively dramatized: Peter Parker learns exactly what it costs to be Spider-Man. Our little Spidey is growing up.
Now on Cable On Demand and SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
On Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, 4K UltraHD, and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Spider-Man: Homecoming [Blu-ray]
Spider-Man: Homecoming [DVD]
Spider-Man: Homecoming [Blu-ray 3D+Blu-ray]
Spider-Man: Homecoming [4K Ultra HD+Blu-ray]
The Blu-ray features the “Spidey Study Guide” pop-up trivia track and over an hour’s worth of bonus material. “A Tangled Web (6 minutes) takes on integrating Spidey into the existing MCU and the tricky collaboration between rival studios to make it happen. “Searching for Spider-Man” (8 mins) looks at casting and feature rehearsal footage. Other featurettes include “Aftermath (almost 5 mins), which looks ahead to future MCU movies, “Spidey Stunts (almost 6 mins), “The Vulture Takes Flight (6 mins), “Jon Watts: Head of the Class (5 mins), and “Pros and Cons of Spider-Man (3 mins), a conversation with young actors Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon. There’s also 16 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, a photo gallery, and PSAs from Captain America (including some not used in the film).
The Blu-ray edition also features bonus DVD and Ultraviolet Digital HD copies of the film. Blu-ray 3D and 4K UltraHD editions also feature bonus Blu-ray and Ultraviolet Digital HD copies of the film