When is it time to stop reinventing a series? One would think that three separate movie adaptions in less than 15 years would be overkill. Yet the Spider-Man franchise released the third movie adaption of the classic character this week, marking it the seventh major motion picture in 15 years to prominently feature the character.
And this time, they hit their mark.
Debuting in 2002, the first major Spider-Man film adaptation starred Tobey Maguire as the titular character. Through three movies, Maguire proved to be a decent Spider-Man, but none of the films felt very connected to the comics, and suffered especially in the final act of the trilogy.
This was followed up by “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starring Andrew Garfield. The two films in the series were forgettable at best. But Spider-Man appeared again in an entirely new storyline in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” this time featuring British actor Tom Holland as the radioactive spider-bite victim. A year later, Marvel unveiled “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” a fresh dive into a story that felt like it had been beaten to death over the past decade.
“Homecoming” picks up right where “Civil War” left off, even including a few scenes from the latter film in a new perspective. The film feels firmly cemented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, frequently referencing other characters and previous films, often to the amusement of the audience. A 15-year-old Peter Parker grapples with his dual identity of Spider-Man and high schooler, with compelling and humorous outcomes.
One of the best aspects of “Homecoming” is where it lands in the timeline of Peter Parker’s life. We are seeing the young Spider-Man before he has fully realized his potential, but after the origin story that everyone is all too familiar with by now. There are mentions of the spider that bit him and the death of his uncle, but the film was free to explore more about Parker and his peers.
The cast in this film is spectacular. Holland’s Peter Parker is both believable and likeable. While previous actors didn’t look or feel like a teenage superhero, Holland felt like someone who could’ve gone to your high school, albeit with the ability to lift a bus and climb up the Washington Monument. Michael Keaton brings the Vulture to life the only way a seasoned actor like Keaton could. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is just as charming and snide as always. The rest of the supporting cast, such as Hannibal Buress, Zendaya and Marisa Tomei bring a brevity to this stellar film.
As to be expected from a major blockbuster, the action sequences are fun and well-executed. Beyond it being an action film, “Homecoming” is a legitimately hilarious movie. The writing and directing is incredible, and Holland brings a youthful humor as well. The comedy in this film finds a nice balance of being genuinely surprising and not childish, yet relatable to a younger audience. In my opinion, this film was much funnier than either of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.
The high school element of the movie felt very real. Past installments featured actors who looked like they had graduated college portraying high schoolers, but everyone in this film looks like they fit in. The high school culture felt a lot more relevant as well. Instead of a bully that is physically abusive, Parker faces off against a bully that is more of an emotional annoyance than anything else.
Marvel is cranking out at least one new superhero movie a year, and it can be exhausting to keep up. But “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is a fresh and fun new take on a well-known story. Borrowing from comics, yet remaining inventive, “Homecoming” is one of the best movies to come out this year. In this case, third time’s a charm.