Spider-Man: Homecoming: A sprightly, highly entertaining reboot
This film shows that a well-done superhero film remains a source of great entertainment.
Somewhere along the line, Spider-Man seemed to have lost his sense of humour. The defining image of the Tobey Maguire era is of the superhero looking sullen, apparently overburdened by his seeming inability to cope with the complications of the world. And then, they tried to lighten it with Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-man, whose second film sort of showed that it wasn’t so amazing after all. And then, Sony reportedly handed over more control to its Marvel counterparts, and boy, has the decision to paid off richly. This new Spider-Man reboot breathes back vitality into the character. And perhaps, in keeping with its almost Deadpool-esque lack of seriousness from time to time, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, while being a do-gooder at heart, doesn’t let it hinder how much fun he has. He still cannot make good his promises to his date, and he likely never will, but he’s the type to remember to buy himself food and find himself a good vantage point to enjoy the New York sunset. He’s also the type to please the occasional admirer by doing a back flip on request.
A young adult, Peter Parker in this latest reboot has a lot to learn. He’s got to learn to summon the courage to talk to women. He’s got to understand the complications of crime, and the minds of criminals. And perhaps most importantly, he’s got to understand the extent of his own powers. It is a vivacious film about Parker’s eager journey towards earning his spot as one of the Avengers. Spider-Man: Homecoming, director Jon Watts’ biggest film yet, has also reinvented other key characters of the franchise: Mary Jane and Aunt Mae. While the former now emanates inner strength, even if coming across as almost haughty (a mighty relief from Kirsten Dunst’s extraordinarily delicate MJ), the latter, as the owner of a grocery shop says, “is a hot Italian woman.”
Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya
The film’s sense of humour, a la Deadpool, is sometimes directed at itself. Like when Spider-Man, in hot pursuit of a villain, blunderingly navigates himself through a bustling neighbourhood, and suddenly finds himself in an open field, devoid of structures to aim his webs at. Like you and I would do, he resorts to good old-fashioned running to keep up with the enemy. In a sense, it reminds you of who Spider-Man is: an ordinary citizen, who’s trying to rise up to the super-powers that he has stumbled on. I imagine that’s why the villain of the film, Adrian Toomes aka Vulture (an underused Michael Keaton), is also just an average citizen, but with a fascination for darkness. He isn’t all evil, and in one revealing scene, asks Peter why it is that society, which is happy to remain unmindful of the likes of Tony Stark, cannot somehow let an average citizen rise to wealth. Spiderman: Homecoming is ultimately a tale of two commoners: one trying to become a super-hero, the other, a super-villain.
Much like The Avengers, the film is all the better for its whistle-worthy moments. Like when Iron Man, who’s almost a father figure to Peter, sends his suit to rescue him. Like when Iron Man himself arrives in flesh and blood to perform another act of rescue. Like when Peter’s Asian friend—who’s as big a fan of Spider-Man, as the latter is of Iron Man—becomes Spider-Man for a fleeting, but memorable moment, which, in a way, summarises the main philosophy of the film. It’s a line Tony Stark tells Peter Parker: “If you’re nothing without your suit, perhaps you shouldn’t be wearing it.”
These days, when superhero films fail to work, there’s a tendency to conclude that people have had enough of the genre. Spider-Man: Homecoming shows that a well-done superhero film remains a source of great entertainment. And as Deadpool’s success showed, sometimes, all it takes to write a great superhero film, is to remember to have a sense of humour while conceiving it.