As the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming drew closer I found myself obsessed with the film. I watched every trailer released so many times that it is embarrassing to even mention it. I did what I promised myself my I wouldn’t do: I got my expectations high, super high, higher than Asgard. From the trailers, I could see everything that the film already got right: Peter’s personality, Spider-Man’s sense of humour, Peter being a smart kid, Spider-Man being underestimated by everyone, and Tony Stark’s mentoring. That alone made me very excited. The best part? The film delivered on my expectations, and so much more. Warning: spoilers ahead.
Diversity in the City
If there is one thing that I’ve become more and more aware over the years is the lack of diversity in films. Films don’t need to have 40 main characters, one for each ethnicity, to show diversity. Any story set in a big city, especially if the city is New York, should have the background filled with characters from different ethnicities. It’s how the story becomes authentic. Having people on the train, the streets and the school have actual different looks instead of a bunch of white kids dressed up differently makes it realistic.
The Bechdel Test
We only see Peter’s perspective in the film, and some parts of what the Vulture’s planning, much like the comic book. In fact, even when other people are talking, if Peter is not paying attention, we can’t hear what they’re saying either. What Spider-Man: Homecoming does, though, is very important for me. At school, we see the more than one girl involved in the school activities. In the science lab, in gym class, there is nothing suggesting that the girls in this school compete with each other to see who’s the hottest, who’s the prom queen or any tiring clichés about high school girls. We get a glimpse that they do interact with each other, not just with the boys, and that they’re worried about their futures, about careers, college, school credit, etc. In the gym class scene, when Betty and Liz are talking about the Avengers, there are two other guys sitting with them, and they’re playing F*ck, Marry, Kill. Betty says, “As for me it would be…” as if she’s the last of the four of them to talk, and chosen subjects are Thor, Iron Man and Hulk. I automatically considered that the at least one of the boys sitting with them is gay and open about it. I’m a fan of subtle messages when it’s done right.
Accountability and Casualties
I couldn’t bear to watch another superhero film where a bunch of people die and no one is held accountable, or the hero simply feels no remorse or even bad for what happened. I’m also sick and tired of villains having to die to be stopped. When Spidey is trying to stop the ATM robbery and the weapon goes off, he immediately leaves the bank and goes check if Mr Delmar from the grocery store is okay, rescuing the cat as well in the process. This scene means the world to me.
I’ve missed seeing this concern for civilians in every superhero film since 2012. Even at the Ferris, Spider-Man apologises for throwing a motorcycle on the guys. He had to act fast, but he understands that those men don’t have enhanced strength like he does. In the three events that could have been a major catastrophe in the film, because of Peter’s efforts, everyone was safe in the end. Take the ending, for example, when he forgets about the Vulture to not let the plane hit any buildings, or even how, even though he was tired and beaten up badly, he still saved Toomes’ life. That’s my Spider-Man!
The design for the Vulture is beautifully constructed in this film. Surely, it has nothing to do with the comics, but it has everything to do with the character. His exoskeleton wings and his helmet are perfectly reasonable, they do what they need to do. The character needs to fly, and at high altitudes, it is harder to breathe and also harder to see. It’s a design that takes into consideration the narrative, there’s purpose to it. Micheal Keaton certainly lived to see himself become the villain, but he did it right, his performance is great and this is a superhero film villain I respect. I mean, he gave the hero a monologue to get himself some time to attack! There is also the fact that he isn’t evil. It is almost possible to empathise with him and his motives because he isn’t driven by the desire to kill or wipe humanity from the face of the earth. He’s driven by money because he has a family to look after.
Twist and Shout
Speaking of family, the twist in this film is spot on. We keep hearing that he has a family that means the world to him, then Peter finally discovers who he is under the mask. At the moment we find out that he’s Liz’s dad we feel just like Peter. Tom Holland’s expressions in the following scenes translated everything I felt. This is the right way to do a twist. It has to be something possible yet seemingly unlikely. Liz has brown skin and a different complexion from her dad, so there is no immediate connection that her father is a white old man until that moment.
Just Enough MCU
I heard a lot of people saying they were afraid Iron Man would steal the scene and be everywhere in the film. I was a bit afraid of that too, but I was never afraid of Tony Stark mentoring Peter. In the comic books, when they cross each other it is very clear that Peter has a lot of respect for Tony, and in the Civil War event from 2006 Tony basically uses this to his advantage.
Robert Downey Jr doesn’t take up the spotlight from Spidey. Instead, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is used in the same way that the Marvel Universe is used in the individual titles: just enough. Peter’s focus is to take down the people selling dangerous weapons, not whatever the Avengers are possibly doing. Different from Thor: Dark World (year), that I honestly got tired of hearing references to what happened in New York.
Tom Holland as Peter Parker
I have nothing but respect and admiration for Tom Holland. The accent, the performance, the facial expressions, going from quiet and reserved 15-year-old to a rebellious and humorous superhero, and come on, the guy worked directly with the stunts, doing a lot of the acrobatics himself. This man gave life, real life, to a character I’ve loved since I was 9 or something. He deserves every compliment for his work as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.