Monday, 23 April 2018
Road to Infinity War - Phase 3 - Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)
Looking at that poster, you would be forgiven for thinking that Spider-Man Homecoming was actually Iron Man 3.5. In the same way that Civil War was potentially Avengers 2.5.
Thankfully, this was purely marketing and the focus is aimed straight at Peter Parker with Tony Stark appearing in a strictly advisorly capacity (either remotely or in person).
While there was a huge amount of excitement when it was announced that Sony and Marvel Studios had made a deal to have the character appear in the MCU, fans questioned whether we needed to see *another* version of Spider-Man so soon after Andrew Garfield's (less than) Amazing Spider-Man.
Within 30 seconds of Civil War, Tom Holland proved that he was the Peter Parker/Spider-Man we didn't realise we needed until that moment. What a difference it made to see an actual teenager play the character who is an awkward, excitable teenager rather than an (admittedly talented) guy in his late-twenties/early thirties.
Homecoming builds on those solid foundations and continues to focus on Peter coming to term with his powers and desire to join the Avengers, all while trying to balance the pressures of high school. Although the Homecoming title can refer to high school and Spidey returning to where he belongs in the MCU.
We can gloss over the fact that Peter and May's apartment seems to change layout and decoration in the week between Civil War and the start of Homecoming because it is so assured in the rest of its storytelling.
Kevin Feige and director Jon Waits know that those watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe have probably already seen the five previous Spider-Man films. (On a side note, let's not forget that in the 16 years we have had three different actors play Spidey over seven films, we only had Hugh Jackman as Wolverine across nine films!)
So they wisely decided that we don't need to see another origin story of how Peter got his powers (indeed it was brushed off by Tony in Civil War as something he didn't need to hear) and we don't need to see the death of Uncle Ben again...
What they do manage to do is subvert certain aspects of what we expect to see. For example, "hot" Aunt May played by Marisa Tomei; no "with great power comes great responsibility" speech from surrogate father figure Tony Stark; training sequences not with his natural abilities but with Stark tech instead such as the "training wheels" program.
The film provides its great share of action sequences, including that incredible vertigo-inducing shot of Spidey standing atop the Washington monument. *Notice how MCU Spidey is not afraid to step outside of New York if duty calls? Makes him more than just your "friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man"*
There is also the Staten Island Ferry set piece that simultaneously harks back to Spider-Man 2's train rescue and betters it (possibly because it doesn't feature Tobey Maguire's constipated face).
Where this film, and the other previous sixteen films by Marvel Studios, raise the bar for the genre and connect with audiences is in character. It is the performances, the writing and development over the ten years that causing such a deep connection that will pay off in Infinity War.
It is nice to see a vulnerable side to a superhero and the moment when Peter cries out when being crushed by rubble gets you, what is the phrase the kids use, "right in the feels". He also has conflicted emotions regarding the villain of the piece, Michael Keaton's Vulture.
It was a surprise to see Keaton in a Marvel movie given his past as Batman but he is one of the MCU's best villains... even if it does conjure up comparisons to his other "superhero" outing Birdman.
Adrian Toomes, screwed over by the system, justifies what he is doing because it helps him provide for his family. Plus Robin Hood-style, he is only stealing from the rich and powerful. He has had no issues with the Avengers as they have bigger fish to fry but then some kid in a onesie starts messing with his business. Spider-Man and the Vulture are put on a collision course that comes to a head in one of the most surprising, jaw-dropping moments in the MCU and 2017 when Peter knocks on the door of his date Liz's house only for him (and the audience) to find out that Toomes is her father.
The following scene in the car where Keaton figures out Parker's secret and proceeds to thank him for saving his daughter's life but threaten to kill him if he gets in his way again is perfectly suited to Keaton who can switch from charming to chilling in an instant.
Thankfully unlike the original Spider-Man and other MCU movies, this iteration of the character does not see the villain killed off at the end of the film which should hopefully allow for a more organic development of the Sinister Six and a welcome return for Vulture.
As for how Sony's Venom starring Tom Hardy will fit into all this? That's anyone's guess!
The future for Spider-Man and Tom Holland is very bright with a nice allusion at the end of the film to the Civil War comic storyline where Iron Man introduces Spidey to the world as the Iron Spider. Something we definitely will see very soon in Infinity War. Although one does worry for Peter. If Tony Stark does die at the hands of Thanos, how will Parker cope losing a third father figure in his lifetime?!
Infinity Stone counter = 5