Here we go again. Another Spider-Man movie and yes, another reboot. In case you have forgotten, we already had one just five years ago. The 2012 reboot a.k.a. The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Andrew Garfield and directed by Marc Webb. Now, with Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s all back to square one… again. Only this time, Spider-Man himself turns out to be a much younger actor in the form of Tom Holland. Best of all, it’s finally a dream come true for every Marvel fan that Spider-Man: Homecoming has officially become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Besides, Marvel knows best, right? Thank god for that, because Spider-Man: Homecoming marks a return to form where The Amazing Spider-Man failed in the first reboot.
Here’s the brief synopsis: After proving his worth for assisting the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) returns home to continue his high school studies in Queens. Longing for more action like he did the last time around, he only gets to spend his days after school fighting petty crime. Soon, his golden opportunity to fight real crime finally comes true when he crosses path with a city contractor-turned-supervillain Adrian Toomes/Vulture (Michael Keaton).
Despite this is the second reboot, co-writer and director Jon Watts are smart enough not to burden his audiences all over again with Peter Parker’s origin. Instead, he goes straight to the point by establishing the young Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a flawed and reckless youth who is still way over his head. Whether he gets overjoyed filming his own video diary during his first participation with the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War or becoming too anxious trying to save the ferry from splitting into a half, Watts’ story about the teenage Peter Parker/Spider-Man is both thoughtful and appealing.
Of course, the story wouldn’t have worked if not for Tom Holland’s pitch-perfect performance as the title character. He clearly shows a lot of enthusiasm playing both Peter Parker and Spider-Man with a subtle mix of likeable personality and youthful energy. As the movie’s main antagonist, Michael Keaton delivers a cold yet sympathetic performance as Adrian Toomes/Vulture. He is also given an effective backstory during the pre-credit opening scene that helps establish his motive of how a hardworking city contractor ends up becoming a villain under forced circumstances. Given the history of weak Marvel villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s finally nice to see a rare strong antagonist like Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture apart from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. At one point, the movie even goes further by offering an unexpected twist to his character. I have to admit it was a twist I didn’t see it coming.
As for the rest of the supporting characters, Jon Favreau is given ample screentime reprising his role as Happy Hogan. His interaction with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark offers some of the best comedy moments in the movie. Speaking of Robert Downey Jr., he made good use of his limited screentime as Peter’s mentor without overshadowed Tom Holland’s lead performance. Relative newcomer Jason Batalon provides strong support as Peter’s geeky best pal Ned, while former Disney Channel star Zendaya gives a charming turn as Peter’s fellow classmate Michelle. Finally, Jennifer Connelly is delightful as “Suit Lady” a.k.a. “Karen”, a Siri-like voice assistant in Peter’s Spider-Man high-tech suit. It was a refreshing change of pace for Connelly, who is often cast in a dramatic role.
However, not everything works in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Some of the supporting performances such as Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May and Laura Harrier’s Liz are sadly underdeveloped. The action, often one of Spider-Man‘s biggest highlights regardless the Sam Raimi or Marc Webb versions, is surprisingly average. Even the highly-publicised ferry disaster scene isn’t as spectacular as I expected in the first place, while most of the nighttime action set-pieces are ruined by haphazard camerawork.
It’s far from the best Spider-Man movie (that honour still goes to Sam Raimi’s first two instalments). But as the first Spidey movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming is off to a good start. And hopefully, they can improve further in the sequel. Likewise, don’t leave your seat just yet once the end credit starts rolling as the movie offers a mid-credit and a post-credit scene.