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Spider-Man: Homecoming Review!

J Jonah Jondee here at Queens,

Walking out of the theater, the one thing that really stayed with me from Spider-Man: Homecoming was the score by Michael Giacchino. He of course was the composer for Rogue One which was for the most part forgettable and Doctor Strange (2016), but this score was thrumming and starts with a rendition of the cartoon’s theme song! Second, the best part of the movie for me was seeing the credit, “Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko”, Ditko was brilliant in bringing the quirkiness to the character and it is great to see his name on screen. The third part is the well developed villain with Michael Keaton in the part of Adrian Toomes. He looms large not as a villain with powers (or in his case a suit), but as a character. Lastly, is Tom Holland playing Spider-Man, his age makes him perfect to play a high school age Peter Parker, and he has down the physicality as well as the wise cracks during his crime fighting.  He is truly your “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man”; a phrase used several times in the film.  Slight spoilers ahead!

Holland also has down the conflict of being a teen and super hero including an incredible, go for broke scene where the true hero comes out. So as a whole it makes one of the best Spider-Man films with a little something missing. This is a big screen superhero movie with a fresh take on Spider-Man. It has splashes of comedy, not a hero discovering his powers, but basically growing up. This may be in part to the Marvel Studio co-production, but it seems to also be because of director Jon Watts, whose previous feature was Cop Car (2015). I also left the theater thinking there was a part missing from Spider-Man, his heart, the light direction of the film really requires the filmmakers to avoid the dark part of his origin, but I thought it really needed Uncle Ben. A film doesn’t say Spider-Man unless it brings in his motto, “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.”

Uncle Ben is basically dropped from the film, we don’t get a photo of him, no evidence of one of the pillars of the Parker family. I can see why they trashed Uncle Ben, it would take from the light tone, but without him, this takes away from the motivation Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Apparently, she’s moved on and looks ready to date again. This is fine, but we don’t see why she’s protective of Peter (Tom Holland) and why he wants to keep his secret from her. I would have liked a short line of dialogue where he says to his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) that he is fearful of revealing his identity because May has already too much on her plate with Uncle Ben. The other part of Spider-Man is apparently he doesn’t have a Spider Sense, not even as a Stark upgrade (a development in his powers or suit possibly for the sequel?).

So the film opens with Adrian Toomes, he has a drawing of super heroes, and reflects on his job cleaning up after them. The destruction of New York that was in The Avengers (2012). He is very careful in dealing with the Chitauri wreckage, but the contract is lost with the sudden arrival of the Department of Damage Control. This was a group introduced by Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon in Marvel Age Annual #4 (1988). They are led by Anne Marie Hoag played by Tyne Daly. Toomes is worried about his daughter and decides that the dump trucks of wreckage will be used for their own uses. His fellow co-worker, Phineas Mason (Michael Chernus) will develop them into weapons. His character is known as the Tinkerer who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #2 (1963).

Then, we shift to Peter capturing his adventures in last year’s Captain America: Civil War though his cell phone video. A fun take on his perspective to the events and also the aftermath traveling with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) from the Iron Man films. The device is also a nice way to bring new viewers up to date, but the cell phone video is not used again.  Happy is later busy making the move from Avengers Tower to the new Avengers compound upstate. The appearance of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is essentially a cameo beyond what is promised in the trailers. He is not a mentor, Tony is mostly called away, but Peter hopes to impress him to join the Avengers. Peter is back to Midtown High School, unlike the other Spider films, not as a beginning, but throughout the film.

He is a sophomore and best friends with Ned who shares his geeky enthusiasm. Batalon provides much of the fun for the film, he is the audience perspective, asking about his powers and life as a superhero. Ned Leeds first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #18 (1964) so the filmmakers are looking for a supporting cast apart from Harry Osbourne. His character was compared to Ganke Lee who was introduced in the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. The other part of high school life is the girl, in this case a senior, Liz played by Laura Harrier. She was also an early character introduced in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962). Always sniping at Peter and Ned is Michelle (Zendaya) who is also on the Academic Decathlon. The duo of Peter and Ned are annoyed by Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka), not as a football bully, but just mocking them. Peter is trying to balance school life with the “Stark internship” which is code for his superhero life.

He still has the Stark upgraded Spider suit which can shrink to fit and has a number of web functions, but Peter feels chained by Stark’s “limitations.” His identity is accidentally discovered by Ned and he has to get his friend to keep his secret identity. Ned blurts out that Peter knows Spider-Man when he overhears Liz likes Spidey at the gym. Liz gets around to inviting them to her party. Spider-Man goes off fighting crime in Queens, but there is an ATM robbery where the criminals, wearing masks right out of the Mego figures, use the advanced weaponry developed by Toomes. Peter tries to bring this to the attention of Stark, but decides that he has to prove his worthiness by trying to take on the threat of the weapons.

Peter leaves Liz’s party when he sees a weapon burst in a forest. He discovers a meeting of Toomes’ henchmen including Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green) who uses the new weapons as the Shocker. His character was known as Montana and introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #10 (1964). They are meeting with a client, Aaron Davis (Donald Glover), he is character, the Prowler, connected to Miles Morales, who later becomes Spider-Man! He first appeared in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 (2001). Adrian Toomes has his own suit, a pair of mechanical wings. Also, clever is the fur collar of his jacket to shout out to the original comics villain. The Vulture, not really named in this film, was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #2 (1963). The fight scenes are a bit difficult to see, hopefully that is corrected in sequels. Peter has to deal with the complications of high school, with a twist, head off to a competition in Washington D.C., the upcoming homecoming dance, and take on the villainy of the Vulture and his men. There are many cameos sprinkled throughout the film. The most fun is seeing Captain America (Chris Evans) in high school tips videos. It is an entertaining movie that opens up more of the Spider Verse.

Four Web Shooters out of Five!

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