Yet another movie from Sony releases this summer that is set in New York and is perfectly content with wasting its cast and crew on a scum-tier script — with six writers (?!) to its name, no less. I am talking about Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it ain’t glowing with praise. First things first; don’t let the title fool you — the movie has jack and squat to do with the fate of the Winter Soldier, last seen cryo-frozen in Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War. This is, instead, an attempt at writing an Marvel Cinematic Universe-style coming-of-age story that feels less like Marvel’s The Breakfast Club and more like their John Tucker Must Die.
I won’t give you the plot here, because if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen a better movie. Here is usually where I’d like to blame the director wholeheartedly, but I can’t do that in full — Jon Watts, known for work in comedies like the reboot of National Lampoon’s Vacation, directs this sextuplet script with a great eye for action scenes that isn’t usually possible with comedic directors — he brings to mind Peyton Reed’s vision on Ant-Man, which was a stunner. Speaking of the stunning, the lead cast members new to the MCU are terrific, with Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z) finally proving his mettle as both Peter Parker and the titular web-slinger — he is no longer the insufferable teen who looks like Jamie Bell’s stand-in once seen in Civil War. I love him more than I do the movie, and I say the same of the equally spectacular Michael Keaton (Batman Returns) as Adrian Toomes, alias the Vulture. Where his character’s development and dialogue fails (he decides to become evil because he loses a contracting job?), Keaton takes over, making sure to craft a memorable villain in spite of the phoned-in script. Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) is charming as ever as Peter’s Aunt May, also making the best out of asstastic material (Thai food jokes, guys? You’re bordering on racism.).
Supporting actors are hit-or-miss — hits include relative newcomer Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Peter’s best and only friend who has a bit of a loose tongue. He’s charming and hilarious without a trace of appearing insufferable. Laura Harrier (4th Man Out) is adorable as Liz, Peter’s classmate due for graduation who has a crush on his alter ego. Misses in this movie sadly outnumber the hits — pop star Zendaya plays lonely brainiac classmate Michelle. She claims to have no friends, aces at the academic challenge team and draws — if they gave her a smoking habit, they’d have John Hughes doing the twist in his grave. Tony Revolori (Dope) is too short and scrawny to play Peter’s bully-in-chief, Flash Thompson — I’m serious, he looks like the Wimpy Kid drawing! I eat punks like him for breakfast; here’s hoping he’s recast when the sequel comes ’round, preferably by someone with a six-pack.
The movie’s major offense is in how it portrays the MCU’s returning cast members. I’m sick of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark already; why must he be a total bitch? I hate him as Civil War portrayed him, why would I want to see more of that? He claims that Peter shouldn’t try to do Avenger-level things, but why not, I say? Tony alienated the team, so he needs all the help he can get. Story-wise, this is a giant middle finger down the throat of all who loved these characters since the beginning; I, for one, can’t wait for the Iron Man armor to be worn by another actor playing a different character.
There are few things to love about Spidey’s return to Marvel, but I do hold out hope for a sequel capped at two writers and with no more decimation of what people loved about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If anyone from Marvel is (still) reading, know this — you’re killing the golden goose; in the end, you’ll have the gold but not the brains to keep it laying. More’s the pity if you break its neck.