Spiderman: Homecoming is part superhero movie, part high-school coming-of-age story – the kind of film that 14-year-old John Hughes-obsessed, comic-book loving nerd me would have been all in for. (Twenty-year-old me was in for it too.)
The first thing that struck me was that Bronx High School of Science (where the film is set) looked exactly like what a school would look like in Queens, NY. Granted, I’m from the western suburbs of Sydney so don’t have first-hand experience with the quintessential American high school experience, but just seeing diverse faces in normal school halls was a stark reminder of how it isn’t something usually represented. The movie should also be acknowledged for having (shock horror) two black women in the main cast. Even the major plot twist subverts preconceived notions of race in a way that is subtle. This is not to say the diversity bid totally works. There are a few characters which play into classic tropes without too much depth: Ned, the totally adorkable Asian best friend goofball to the white-guy hero; Michelle, the weird social justice misfit; and Liz, the hot older girl. In context, however, as a movie that’s part of a bigger cinematic arc, it does well to portray high school clichés in a realistic light.
My major bone to pick is not actually with the movie itself, but with Sony’s marketing team. You see, the trailers spoiled an awful lot. Every major action scene was revealed beforehand to the point where I simply didn’t feel any tension or angst at what was to come when watching the film. Some moments that were clearly meant to be a surprise felt rushed, and weren’t allowed to breath in order to truly pack a punch. It would have been more effective – and enjoyable – if the trailers had simply teased scenes, without ruining story beats.
Detaching from the faults of the trailers, the overall arc didn’t feel too clunky or forced. Peter Parker’s world had texture and depth, and for a mediocre white boy supported by his fully POC squad he was surprisingly likeable. Tom Holland does a great job in portraying an entitled 15-year-old kid who initially sees the world as revolving around his destiny, but eventually learns from his faults and listened to his heart. His progress is both realistic and comedic to watch.
The final thing that really stood out to me was the clever use of music to evoke emotion. The smallest change from minor to major note added an unexpected layer of depth to the final act that launched the film from fluff to something which could establish itself amongst the ranks of other Marvel movies. I’ll admit, I didn’t really pick up on the effect of the score until my musically-tuned roommate pointed out how cool it was that the soundtrack was linked to The Avenger’s theme. The title sequence was also an orchestral version of the original 60s theme, an Easter egg that no doubt satisfied fan boy hearts everywhere.
Overall, Spiderman: Homecoming is a ball of refreshing, cheeky, corny, heartfelt moments wrapped up in 2.5 hours of a teen rom-com, that is disguised as a superhero movie. The Marvel Universe finally has a Spiderman they can confidently say has won over hardcore fans and casual MCU viewers alike, and a producing team that refuses to pander to one type of audience.
Rating: nine webshooters out of 10.