Poor Spider-Man. The Tobey Maguire iteration was good and then got silly. I did not mind the first Andrew Garfield entry, but the second with Jamie Foxx as Electro was mind-bendingly bad. Yet the real issue with the cinematic version of our favorite wise cracking web slinger has nothing to do with dancing Peter Parkers or horrible plots, but rather the business side of things. You see, decades ago Marvel decided to sell off the cinematic rights to their characters piecemeal to whichever studio approached the comic book company with a buck. Hey, the 1980s were a rough time for the industry! If you are a fan of the graphic novels and wondered why some of the obvious characters have been missing from the movies, it is because studios traditionally guarded their franchises with a vengeance. This simply means that the already expensive endeavor of making a blockbuster superhero film gets even more costly when you have to pay another studio for the rights to whatever character it makes sense to insert into your script. In recent years, the Mouse has been trying to rectify this situation with its legions of cash. It bought Marvel, and has been slowly waging war to get all the other holdouts to fork-over the likes of X-Men, for example. One of the last ones to give way has been Spider-Man, although his appearance in Captain America: Civil War signaled that Sony (the studio that owns the Spider-Man cinematic property) wanted in on the gravy train that is the MCU. Thankfully, the deal worked out between Sony and Disney meant that not only could Spidey appear in other MCU films, but that he could have his own standalone ones as well. Thus we give you our review of Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
Spider-Man: Homecoming begins roughly at the tail end of Captain America: Civil War, showing the high school aged Peter Parker (Tom Holland) GoPro-ing his fight against the Avengers. While I am not sure who Parker (who is protective of his superhero identity) planned to show his footage to, it was still kind of funny to see a Generation Z approach to capturing an epic battle between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Upon returning to Queens, Stark gives him the “mission” of being the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Being young and rather full of himself, Parker feels his powers are being wasted on attempting to return stolen bicycles or helping old ladies cross the street. His big break comes, though, when a group of local thugs attempt to break into a several ATMs using weapons derived from Chitauri technology, the race of aliens who attacked New York in The Avengers. Sensing that there is something more to this seeming petty crime, he tries to get the attention of Stark to what he thinks is a legitimate danger. Stark, though, treats it as somewhere short of a potential threat to the entire globe, and takes Parker’s suit from him (which Stark had designed) when the kid’s dogged determination almost led to a ferry sinking and many innocent people dying. Though Parker tries to move on and be a normal high school student, his homecoming date with Liz Toomes (Laura Harrier) is interrupted by the revelation that her father, Adrian/The Vulture (Michael Keaton), is the mastermind behind the overpowered weapons Spider-Man had been encountering. Parker tries again to get Stark’s attention, but Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), Stark’s assistant, blows off Parker’s panicked call. Feeling once again that it is up to him, Parker dons his original pajama-looking suit, and takes to the skies to prevent The Vulture from hijacking a shipment of Stark stuff being taken to the new Avengers’ headquarters outside of the city.
What makes Spider-Man: Homecoming good is the attempt to make Parker into as much of a regular high school kid as possible, super powers aside. Really, when it comes to the action stuff, there is nothing new to report here. The fights are the finest that Disney’s computers can produce. But the charm of Spider-Man is that he is living a life like the rest of us as he can. He has a neighborhood deli from which he gets sandwiches. He builds Lego sets with his friends. And he goes to homecoming, which was mentioned above. Another refreshing aspect of this film is that it is a break from the universe spanning menace of so many of the other MCU films. Granted, The Vulture represents a real threat to the general peace of society as a whole. But it is not something that has the potential of death on a vast scale. So hooray for something different.
Spider-Man: Homecoming does not introduce the famous line from the world of the wall crawler: with great power comes great responsibility. That concept is so pertinent to Christians. If you are blessed with gifts, then you have a ministry to fulfill. To deny using what God gave you would not be detrimental solely to yourself, but to those around you. This is something that Parker seems to understand throughout. However, the biggest lesson that he learns is humility. Did you know that in addition to being the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul was also a tent maker? The point I am trying to make here is that it is important to maintain a well rounded identity. Just because you can do something amazing that does not mean you have to do it all the time. It may seem mundane to go to Chemistry class as Parker does, but ultimately it is such things that make us human. You may think of cloistered nuns as just sitting in rooms and praying all day. But they also build sidewalks and operate tractors. Perhaps the best example of Parker truly learning his lesson is when Stark offers him the opportunity to join the Avengers officially . . . and he turns it down.
Like other MCU films, Spider-Man: Homecoming is rated PG-13, and again I am unsure why. There are some genitalia related jokes, but nothing too explicit. It is just a genuinely fun film that can be enjoyed by all.