By Ian Morton
Spider-Man Homecoming is a breath of fresh air for a franchise commonly bogged down in the fateful expectation of an origin story.
Following on from the events of Civil War, Homecoming follows Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he battles a local weapons syndicate run by Adrian Toomes/The Vulture (Michael Keaton) while balancing the everyday task of being a teenager.
When it was announced that the web slinger was joining the MCU, there was both excitement and trepidation as many found themselves asking how he would fit in. As ever, the magicians over at Marvel have not only found a place for him but they have also done it without an origin story in sight!
Throwing the typical spoon fed narrative out the window, director Jon Watts tells a very grounded story, shadowed by previous events while at the same time showing that the MCU is more than just big set pieces. With a grass routes approach – centered mostly in the school yard – Watts brings an indie quality that seems to emulate what it feels like to be a teenager, resulting in a charming and often hilarious approach to a well worn character.
While structurally it follows the same formula as some of the other stories, the lack of origin allows them to experiment, delving into the daily activity of our hero rather than wasting time waiting for the ball to drop. The first half for instance gives the audience a chance to get to know Peter and as such, there is a depth that many of the other MCU entries just couldn’t achieve in the same run time. Sure, it could certainly be a little shorter than it currently is (an eye watering 2 hours and 13 minutes) but thankfully the events taking place add spades of personality rather than stretch things out.
As ever, one of the reasons we keep coming back to these movies is the simple love for the heroes themselves. Like a duck to water, Tom Holland seamlessly transitions from his brief (yet impressive) appearance in Civil War and hits the ground running with an innocent and extremely likable take on the character. Keaton’s expertise within the genre is felt throughout, bringing a side to the villain role not often seen within the genre while Robert Downey Junior’s little part is more than acceptable given the questions raised from the initial trailer offerings.
With many other films within the franchise being accused of burying themselves under an all too familiar structure, Homecoming manages to break free from the trope with in an adventure filled with depth, charm and above all, fun. 4 out of 5 stars.
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