Schooling the Competition
I’ve reviewed a lot of superhero movies (at least five at a quick count), and I’m feeling a little worn-out. It seems that Marvel’s continuous stream of explosive action and witty characters is leading to viewer fatigue.
I know friends of mine have been shrugging off Marvel’s films as the same routine with different packaging: bad guy tries to take over the world and protagonist tries to save everyone, with varying success.
The other proverbial nail in the coffin is how complex the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. The vast amount of key characters and story arcs running through the main narrative may turn off potential viewers who aren’t avid Marvel fans.
A few problems are emerging with the superhero genre. So believe me when I say Spider-Man: Homecoming is the breath of fresh air you need.
THE PLOT: Peter Parker is your typical teenage boy, aside from coming toe-to-toe with the Avengers as Spider-Man. Patrolling the streets of New York, Parker longs for his “next big mission” until he stumbles upon some crooks up to no good. Thus, Parker sees this as the perfect opportunity to earn the approval of Tony Stark.
I want to get straight to the heart of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it first must be said that Tom Holland is perfect to play Peter Parker. He’s headstrong, chatty to a fault, and as awkward as Trump ironically finding out Clinton isn’t the only one with email problems. As with every teenager, this is a difficult time for young Parker, as he juggles not only his “Stark Internship” (a.k.a. being your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man) but a social life, school work, and relationship troubles.
Marvel has created the most relatable superhero to date. Most of us mere mortals don’t know what it’s like to be a billionaire playboy, WW2 veteran, or super-computer-turned-android. With the absence of an origin story (because how many times do we have to watch uncle Ben die?) we sympathise with Parker’s frustration as a teenage boy who is determined to garner Iron Man’s approval and fit in with his schoolmates.
What really seals the deal is what is at stake in Spider-Man: Homecoming. My favourite scene is a montage of Spider-Man looking after the streets of Queens. Do we see him battle waves of muggers in dark alleys? Stop car crashes? Save children from burning buildings? Of course not! Because life can be pretty boring sometimes. Marvel brings the superhero right down to its roots: doing good, no matter how small.
Audiences have already experienced many dramatic tales of loss and end-of-the-world scenarios. Spider-Man: Homecoming creates a more inconsequential, practical storyline that contrasts with the high-octane adventures of the Avengers, and does so considerably well. While the stakes do rise as we meet the Vulture and his cronies (another excellent avian performance by Michael Keaton), they are down-to-earth villains who are a believable threat, without attracting the Avenger’s attention.
Be warned: you’re going to find Spider-Man: Homecoming a lot more comical than other Marvel releases. It works with the titular character’s quick-fire quips, although there were a few jokes that fell slightly flat. The story, however, doesn’t seem to be drowned underneath the fast-paced humour. The whole film has a great rhythm and progression, and there are a couple of nice twists to keep the audience invested.
If you’ve been watching MCU films in recent years thinking Oh dear God, another one? When will this nightmare end? I recommend watching Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel have created a stand-alone story that has heart and reminds us of what it really means to be a superhero.
Peter Parker: I'm nothing without the suit! Tony Stark: If you're nothing without the suit, then you shouldn't have it.