I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last Thursday. Then I went to see it again Saturday night, for my birthday movie. (YAY!!!) But for some reason I still hadn’t written about it. When I saw Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 it took me over a month to be able to process my emotional experience and figure out what I wanted to say. That wasn’t the case here. When I saw Wonder Woman I was so in awe I had to write about it immediately. That wasn’t the case here either. Last night I realized why this post hasn’t been flowing and, in so realizing, I found the post. So, are you ready to talk Spider-Man: Homecoming (in a spoiler-free environment)? Are you ready to learn what caused my writing freeze?
I have nothing to say about this film.
Now, I can speak generally of course. I do think Spider-Man: Homecoming was an absolute blast. The film was so much fun! I loved seeing an awkward Peter navigate high school while trying to prove he deserves a seat at the adult table of superheroing. I thought the casting was exceptional. I enjoyed the humor, timing, and tone of the film. But there’s no reason for me to say all that. You’ll find that anywhere you know? I didn’t find anything exceptionally mythical, symbolic, theological, or emotional to explore. It’s not that some of those themes weren’t touched on; they were. But I felt to explore those as they were presented in the film would just end up as a version of a post I’ve already written.
I know this can come off sounding like I didn’t enjoy the film. That’s not true! And I certainly don’t want to give that impression. I’m very happy to see Spider-Man is finally home, where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really enjoyed the film. In fact, I loved it even more with my second viewing. Being a character as close to my heart as Spider-Man, it’s always hard to keep all my thoughts and expectations out of my head for the initial viewing. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the first, but my attention is never solely focused on the film. With screening #2, I can just be in the movie. I did thoroughly enjoy the movie. I would happily go see it again. I will happily buy the Blu-ray when it comes out. But that’s pretty much all I have to say about it.
When people ask me about Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 or Wonder Woman I go on and on and on (and on (I know, readers of this blog may be surprised to learn I can ramble a bit)) with everything I loved about the film, everything I saw in the film, and all the ways the film touched me. I have to actively work to not accidentally spoil anything because I loved the films so much I want to talk about everything! When someone asks me about Spider-Man: Homecoming I generally say, “I liked it! It was a really fun movie!” Then I say something about it honoring Spider-Man’s character or you could tell that the people making it loved Spidey or something generic like that. Again, it’s not that I didn’t like the film, I just have nothing to say about it.
This, in and of itself, is weird for me. I still have vivid memories of the opening night for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002. That movie blew my mind. Now remember, growing up a child of the 80’s and adolescent of the 90’s there weren’t superhero movies all the time. In fact, there was pretty much only Batman at the theatre when I was a kid…and I don’t really dig Batman. Yes, the X-Men had arrived care of Bryan Singer two years earlier but, while exciting, they were bouncing around in black leather. Spider-Man was the FIRST TIME I went into the movie theatre and saw what I read in my comic books come to life in a way that actually felt like those comic books. I still love that movie. I still watch that movie. I still quote that movie. And random quotes too! Out of the blue David will look at me and just say, “Bike messenger. Knocked me down.” It became and remains an important part of my experience of Spider-Man. He was living on in a new medium!
Then the unthinkable happened. Spider-Man 2 came around in 2004 and it was even better than the first. What?!? Are you kidding me right now?? To this day, Spider-Man 2 is still one of my all-time favorite superhero films. It holds a place in my heart for all it is. In a lot of ways it’s more special simply because it gave us an authentic superhero experience before the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve realized I can take the MCU for granted sometimes, forgetting what other superhero movies were like before it made bringing the comics to life accurately par for the course. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies mean a lot to me because they came before the MCU, were well done, and clearly made by someone who loves Peter Parker’s story.
With Spider-Man: Homecoming, and maybe it’s just a product of the Age of Superhero Movies in which we live, I didn’t have as emotionally memorable an experience. It was fun. I really enjoyed it. It was another exciting superhero movie I loved but didn’t feel particularly special. Wait…is this just a product of the age though? I said above how unique and important both Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman were to me. Hmm. Well, for whatever reason, Spider-Man Homecoming didn’t feel like that.
I do need to address this though. Full credit for this spot goes to my brother, David. Neither he nor I can figure out how I didn’t see this the first night we watched Spider-Man: Homecoming because it’s so crazy obvious but I needed David to point it out to me. For some inexplicable reason, Marvel’s decided to get rid of Spider-Man’s spider sense in this film. You know, his early warning danger sense that, combined with his speed, allows Spidey to dodge most attacks? Yep, he doesn’t have it anymore. I’m not sure why. While they don’t expressly say he doesn’t have it in the film (nor give a reason for its absence (or even address it)) there’s no way he can have it. At all. What follows will be MAJOR SPOILER TERRITORY so I’ve put the next paragraph between four huge pictures. If you haven’t seen the film, scroll down past the picture of Spider-Man and Iron Man suited up to find yourself in spoiler-free territory once more. Because this list will contain every time I remember him being surprised in the film and is thus filled with HUGE SPOILERS.
Are we good? Please don’t read this if you haven’t seen the film. I don’t want to ruin it for you but it helps flesh out my point. Anyway…
First, Ned learns Peter is Spider-Man because Ned’s in his room when Peter sneaks in to change. In the comics Spidey’s spider sense always alerts him when someone’s casually looking out their window so he knows it’s not safe to drop in his apartment. The first Shocker hits Spider-Man when he breaks up their arms deal under the bridge. The Vulture totally surprises him when he grabs him during the chase with the van. He has no idea the “glowy thing” he picks up can be dangerous, let alone a bomb. While his spider sense wouldn’t let him explicitly know it’s a bomb, it would let him know it’s dangerous. He has to use his A.I. to track the spider-tracer, not his spider sense. In the truck, he leaps up and knocks himself out, unaware the gateway has closed. He has no idea Toomes is suiting up or about to attack on the Staten Island Ferry. He has no idea the FBI is about to jump out, guns pulled. He doesn’t know the Ferry’s still in danger until his A.I. tells him. He has no tingle before Toomes opens the door. When he runs out of the dance the second Shocker lays him out flat as he runs into the punch. Peter doesn’t know Toomes’ wings are coming as he talks to him. He doesn’t realize the structural integrity of the building is damaged. The first time Toomes hits him after the plane crash, makes sense. His head was ringing and even if he had his spider-sense he probably would have missed that. But the second hit? His head was clear and a spider sense would have caught that.
While we’re in the spoiler bubble I might as well say the most exciting part of the film for me – by far – was learning that Tony and Pepper are back together!!! Aaaaahhhh!!!! Yay!!!!! My heart swelled and I literally applauded in the theatre when I learned that. WOO HOO!!!! But, back to the overall film, I found it weird the most exciting part of this Spider-Man movie for me was learning Tony Stark and Pepper Potts are back together again. I don’t know what that means but…huh.
So yeah, this isn’t one tiny continuity error or something. Clearly they either a) totally forgot Spider-Man has a spider sense when they were working on this movie or b) just decided to get rid of it. As David also pointed out, they seem to have replaced his Spidey sense with Karen, his suit’s A.I. system. Now he’s just kind of a younger Iron Man who sticks to walls you know? It’s an…interesting direction, to say the least. I’m not sure why they chose it but c’este la vie. Tobey Maguire’s Spidey had organic webshooters. Tom Hollands’ Spider-Man has no spider sense.
I did have a moment of excitement as Kalie and I were leaving Spider-Man: Homecoming regarding the upcoming Venom solo film though. I’ve been bummed that they were going forward with Venom without having a feasible way for the symbiote to have any sort of connection to Peter before it bonds with Eddie Brock. But then I remembered THE INFINITY WAR WILL BE FOUGHT IN SPACE. So there’s a chance Peter can come in some sort of contact with the alien suit before it bonds with Brock!
To close on a few specific positive points, I did love, love, loooove Tony’s relationship with Peter. I think Peter looking up to Tony and Tony trying to look out for Peter gave us an interesting dynamic, especially for how it takes Tony’s character into new territory. I also think Michael Keaton was brilliant as Adrian Toomes/the Vulture. I think this is perhaps the most fully developed villain of any Spidey movie yet. He was dripping with menace but also absolutely human. He was a villain forged of unfair circumstances, as all true evil is. He was dangerous and in the wrong but you understood why he was doing what he was doing. He was also super creepy in that suit too!
I’ll also say how much I loved how local the whole thing felt. I’ve said time and again that Spidey is our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for a reason. He shouldn’t be saving the whole city every day. He deals with smaller issues. He’s the everyman. This film was the best Spider-Man film yet in capturing this facet of his character, as far as I’m concerned. I also adored the supporting cast around Peter. I loved his friends! Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Peter should be the Bromance Goals for a generation. Flash (Tony Revolori) felt like less of a one note character (while still being a tool). Liz (Laura Harrier) was strong and layered in her own right. And Michelle (Zendaya)? Yeah, I want a Spider-Man sequel just for more of her character!
So I really enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming. I’m happy Spidey’s finally back where he belongs. (I hope the Fantastic Four can somehow follow suit soon…) And I guess that’s all I have to say about this film :).