Movie review: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ brings everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood superhero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Initially, I was more than a little skeptical about Sony’s new Spider-Man film. In the past 15 years, we have had six Spider-Man movies, two reboots, and three different actors playing the character. And it’s only been three years since the previous reboot fizzled out. However, seeing Spider-Man’s cameo in last summer’s “Captain America: Civil War” started to change my mind. Tom Holland’s lovably excitable Spidey was a highlight of that film, and I was curious to see if Sony could pull off a feature-length film with this re-envisioned character.

So, did we really need another Spider-Man reboot? After watching “Homecoming,” I say yes. It’s a joy to see the friendly neighborhood superhero officially join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Homecoming” hits all the right notes and is a genuinely fun film that captures the spirit of the character in a way we haven’t seen before.

One of the first things “Homecoming” does right is skipping the origin story that audiences have already seen twice. The action picks up shortly after the events of “Civil War” (the film begins with a hilarious home video montage Peter Parker puts together highlighting his adventures in “Civil War”). Peter is thrilled to be working with Iron Man and can’t wait to take his place alongside the Avengers. Except, he keeps waiting and waiting for another call from Tony Stark, only to be disappointed. He wants to do more than retrieve stolen bikes and give directions to lost people on the streets. He thinks he’s found his big break when he stumbles upon a business scavenging alien equipment from the New York attack in “The Avengers” to manufacture illegal weapons. However, he quickly finds he’s in way over his head, and it will take some time without the high-tech suit given to him by Tony Stark to figure out what it really means to be a hero.

As I mentioned before, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of my favorite parts of “Civil War,” and he does a great job carrying his own movie. He’s now my favorite on-screen Spider-Man. Although previous Spidey actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield each brought something to the role, Holland’s version is the one that feels the most like a real teenager. I love how Holland brings so much joy to the character; his Peter Parker isn’t as weighed down by angst as some of the past versions. He genuinely loves being Spider-Man, though his eagerness occasionally gets him into trouble.

Sometimes Marvel movies are faulted for their lackluster villains, but that isn’t the case here. Michael Keaton does a great job as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. I appreciated the smaller scale of “Homecoming” and how the villain wasn’t out to take over the world. He felt like an appropriate villain for Spider-Man’s skill level; he was too powerful for local law enforcement but not enough of a threat to call in the Avengers. Keaton really humanizes the character, who starts the movie owning a salvage company and almost loses everything when the government takes back the contract they gave him to clean up the rubble following Loki’s attack on New York. He’s just a regular guy wanting to provide for his family, until he makes compromising choices that take him down a dark path. There’s also a gut-punch of a plot twist involving the relationship between Toomes and Peter — I won’t give it away, but it definitely ups the tension in the film’s final act.

There are several great supporting characters, including Jacob Batalon as Peter’s best friend Ned. It was nice for Peter to have an ally his own age who knew his secret, and their teenage awkwardness is adorable.

It’s always the little moments that separate good movies from great ones, and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” includes several of those type of moments. Perhaps one of the most powerful is when Peter is trapped under a pile of rubble and panics because there’s no one to save him. Then he has to find the strength within himself to escape. The movie has plenty of humor and is probably the funniest Marvel movie since the underrated “Ant-Man.” I also enjoyed all the little references to the other MCU films. Captain America has several hilarious cameos in school inspirational videos, and I’m glad Sony and Marvel reached a deal to include Robert Downey Jr. in this film. I thought the film had just the right amount of Iron Man, similar to the use of Darth Vader in “Rogue One.” He made the film extra special but didn’t take away from the main characters or action. I enjoyed seeing him adjust to the role of mentor, and he actually had some important lessons to teach Peter.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

I also really appreciated the film’s ending battle between Spidey and the Vulture. Spidey has to go back to using his homemade suit after Iron Man takes away his high-tech one for being irresponsible. This helps Peter see that he’s more than just a suit. I also liked that Spider-Man didn’t end up killing Vulture. It wouldn’t have fit with the tone of the film, or with this version of Peter’s character. He was able to stop Vulture and bring him to justice without harming him.

End spoilers!

I really don’t have any complaints about this film, except that the trailers for the movie gave away a little more than they should. However, I had a blast watching this movie, and I left the theater with a big smile on my face. I hope Sony and Marvel can continue to work together to keep Spidey a part of the MCU — the MCU and Spider-Man are both better for it.

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