“Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 17th April, 2018
WARNING: The Following review contains spoilers.
In this film, Peter Parker must balance his new life as super hero Spider-Man, alongside his commitments as a student, all the while Iron Man’s Tony Stark keeps an eye on him. Peter becomes bored of doing local good deeds, desires a more exciting mission, and begins to investigate a weapons smuggling crime being run by the super villain “The Vulture”. The problem is, Stark underestimates Parker’s abilities, insisting that he stays away from the Vulture, but Parker wants to prove himself.
One major criticism that folks have had against the MCU’s take on Spider-Man, is that he’s too juvenile and youthful, but even as someone who has barely read the original comics, I know that’s the whole point of Spider-Man. Peter Parker is a deconstruction of the super hero sidekick trope, a realistically flawed teenage hero designed to be more relatable to adolescent readers, so I’m not surprised or annoyed at Marvel Studios’ portrayal of the web-slinger.
This film’s Peter Parker is socially awkward, clumsy, and struggling to find himself. There’s a charm to his dorkiness that I can relate to, more so than most super heroes, as a baby faced nerd who is still trying to work my life out, and that’s a credit to this Spider-Man’s appeal. Parker is a good intelligent kid with clever instincts, but he’s not some perfect super genius, he’s a massive clutz with a big ego, and he has some growing up to do. It’s his coming of age arc from immature boy playing super hero, to a man who deserves to wear the suit, that gives the story it’s sense of growth.
Peter’s frantic immaturity does make the narrative uneven at times, but it kind of works, because it helps to reflect the teen’s lack of confidence and hormonal confusion. When the plot derails, it fits the childish egocentricity that Peter is leading in life, illustrating the lesson he must learn, to become a person of self value who warrants the mature responsibility of Spider-Man, and maybe the potential to become an Avenger.
Tony Stark is his usual fire tongued self, but this time, he’s playing father figure to young Peter. Sure, he knows how to lay the ground in this parental role, but he acts like Peter is younger than he really is, and it’s this treatment that drives Peter to rebel. I really enjoyed seeing Tony in a position of raising a kid, because it shows a more mature side to him, but also exposes how he’s not quite up to the task, and must learn to not patronisingly baby his protegee.
While the film does have lots of fun action sequences, from an intense Washington monument rescue, to a showdown on a ferry, it’s the high school comedy that gives the film it’s heart. There’s a very obvious influence from the late John Hughes on this film, with it’s references to “Ferris Bueller” or “The Breakfast Club” ringing in many scenes, and I’ll admit that the movie does wonderfully recapture the magic of a Hughes teen comedy! Through it’s dry quick witted banter between students, and quirky scenarios that teenage audiences will resonate with.
Then we have Peter’s school life, where he exhibits great knowledge, but lacks the seriousness needed to excel in the real world. His best friend Ned, who just boarders on the edge of being annoying, looks at his super hero pal with an endearing admiration, but even though he can get carried away with this nerdy fanboyism, he serves as a voice of reason for Peter, as one of the only people to know Spider-Man’s real identity, and even makes helpful contributions to Peter’s self-assigned mission.
Another person in Pete’s school life, is his love interest Liz, a high achieving senior student, with a determination to excel at school. Liz and Peter share some strong chemistry, for teen romance standards, and I did want to see them become more than friends, but I wouldn’t say that Liz was a remarkable character. Sure, Liz is a hard working and thoughtful girl, but she’s pretty much relegated to being the token love interest, and very little more.
Here’s the surprise twist though, that makes the romance very tense, it turns out that the Vulture is Liz’s father Adrian! This adds some much awkward intensity to the hero-villain dynamic later into the film, because Peter has a duty to protect the city from this dangerous weapons smuggler, but he also needs to keep Adrian protected, knowing full well how important this man is to Liz. It makes things excitingly complicated, exploring a different angle to the relationship between hero and bad guy.
The Vulture himself, is one of those rare Marvel villains with actual defined dimension, because he’s more than just an antagonist bent on world domination, he’s a working class guy who wants to look after his family, and thinks that this justifies his crimes. He’s very humanized, making him more identifiable than your usual super villain, and that’s something audiences can really resonate with about him. He also poses as a threatening presence on screen, in or out of his mechanical winged suit, because he’s alarmingly bad tempered, and even willing to kill his minions if they threaten to rat him out.
To Conclude, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a change of pace from seeing musclebound middle aged adults stopping the doomsday or supernatural threats, bringing the super hero formula to the teenage demographic, with the charm and relatability of a John Hughes comedy from the 80’s. Does it have flaws? Of course! But some of these blemishes give personality to the film’s tale of the teenage experience, and I consider this film to be one of my “cheer up” movies.
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