‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017) Review

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Not only is that quote the defining moment in Peter Parker’s life, it’s one of the most iconic lines in all of comics. It’s a line that carries weight. You understand why Parker does what he does, why he wakes up every morning to chase down a mugger or just to help an old lady cross the street because of that line. And that’s my main issue with Spider-Man: Homecoming, there’s no sense of motivation behind his actions.

If i had never seen a Spider-Man film before, I would have no idea why he is doing what he’s doing and I’d have a very unclear understanding of his powers. There’s one scene where they barely hint at the fact that his uncle had been murdered. That’s it. You need an Uncle Ben to be Parker’s catalyst, his call to arms for justice.

They tried supplementing him with Tony Stark and it doesn’t work. I’m not saying we need to rehash the stories that have already been told but we need to at least mention the most important moment of his life. It would be like making a Batman origin film and never mentioning his parents being murdered in front of his eyes.

The film needs something, even if it’s just a two minute dialogue exchange between Parker and Aunt May to give this film weight. To give his actions meaning but the closest we get is “I wanna be like you, Tony Stark.” And it doesn’t work.

Another problem I have is what I refer to as “The Birthday Cake” problem. Since we have at least five superhero films released a year, it becomes nothing but a game of oneupsmanship between the studios. Who could deliver the most spectacle. Have the biggest cast. And since every film is trying to have the biggest slice of cake at the table, everyone just ends up eating nothing but cake all year.

It’s a system that is destroying itself. Why should I care about anything that happens in this film if the next film I see in a month will do the same thing only bigger? That’s the main problem with not only cinema itself but unfortunately Spider-Man: Homecoming as well.

It’s a competently made film with solid performances all around but there’s not a single scene in this film I will remember in three years. Would this film be more effective ten years ago, when there was no competition? I don’t know but I guarantee you it would’ve had more of an impact on me if it was the first superhero film I’d seen in a couple of years but it’s isn’t. In fact, it’s the fifth superhero film to come out this year.

I’m being overly critical because it’s not a bad film, in fact, I think it’s extremely enjoyable, but I’m tired of Marvel setting the bar at enjoyable and never attempting to go over it. It bugs me that this isn’t my favorite Spider-Man film because so much of it works. Tom Holland brings a charming naivete to the role that no one else has. He’s more like Spider-Boy than Man and that’s a refreshing take on the character. This Spider-Man hasn’t figured out his powers yet, hasn’t figured out his suit, hell, he doesn’t even have the quips down yet. He’s still figuring everything out and it was entertaining watching him fumble his way through everything.

As is the tradition with Spider-Man films, the bad guy is usually the best thing about it and Michael Keaton doesn’t disappoint. He’s a villain that isn’t interested in taking over the world or enslaving mankind, he’s just a guy that feels tired of getting, in his mind, fucked over by the system and has had enough. He just wants a sliver of power; not to conquer but over his life. He wants the power of freedom and he’s going to do anything in his power to get it. It’s the best villain the series has had since Doctor Octopus. In addition to his excellent motivations, I love his design. He looks like an action figure I would’ve killed to have had when I was younger.

There’s three main action pieces in the film consisting of a tower, a boat and an airplane and while they were all cool and different, none really stick out from the rest of the bombast that came out this year.

At the end of the day, as with every Marvel movie, if you like their films, you’ll like Homecoming. If you do not, you will not. It all depends on how much cake you enjoy on your birthday.