Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming is the newest entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and is also one of the brightest and most spirited films in the franchise.
Set after 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Homecoming expands the cameo of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man character. This tie-in is showcased early in the film, since Peter’s adventures in Civil War are shown through his recorder. Events such as finding his new Spider-Man suit and fighting at the airport are briefly but clearly shown, and the film quickly moves on to its own plot once the tie-ins are settled.
Unlike the Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield versions of the character, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is a cheerful and optimistic 15 year old with an infectious but almost naive taste for adventure. Having seen action in Civil War and seeing Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) as his personal hero and mentor, Peter is anxious to fight for the Avengers cause again. He is frustrated, though, when the Avengers fall silent and Peter is stuck with minor crime fighting and his everyday high school life.
Homecoming brings back one of Spider-Man’s classic villains, Adrian Toomes/Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. This winged villain ties into the MCU with him losing his construction job to Stark Industries right after the events of 2012’s The Avengers, and Vulture goes on to form his own underground market of advanced alien weapons and devices, using the profits to support his family. Peter stumbles into Toomes’ secret weapons empire, and determined to impress Iron Man, Peter disables his suit’s built-in restriction programs and hunts the Vulture all across New York State.
The production quality of Spider-Man: Homecoming is on par with the other MCU films, with costumes, CGI, action choreography, and sets all of the highest quality. The acting is earnest and tangible, with Peter’s earnest and boyish behavior shining clearly on-screen, and Keaton’s Vulture proves to be one of the MCU’s more alluring villains with his stylish flight suit and wings, and his quietly insidious personality hidden under his doting father exterior. The film has its somber moments, such as Peter’s guilt and dismay over bungling his early battles against the Vulture, but the comic relief adds appropriate charm and wit to the film throughout. The support characters, such as Peter’s high school classmates, aren’t as well thought-out, being reduced to stock roles such as “geeky friend” and “edgy counter-culture girl”.
As a whole, Spider-Man: Homecoming seems to understand the nature and spirit of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man more than any live-action film before it, and proves that the MCU is capable of more than just planetary destruction and CGI armies swarming on the screen.