One of the best super-hero blockbusters.
Director: Jon Watts (Cop Car)
Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein (Horrible Bosses), et al.
Cast: Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z), Michael Keaton (Bird Man)
Runtime: 2 hr 13 min
by John DeSando
“If you're nothing without the suit, then you shouldn't have it.” Tony Stark to his intern, Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
If a superhero film such as Spider-Man: Homecoming can relay that being yourself is more important than being somebody, Director John Watts (director of the underappreciated Cop Car with Kevin Bacon) and his crew of bright writers have succeeded. I don’t remember enjoying more such a focused, albeit young, Peter Parker/Spiderman (Tom Holland), whose emotional problems are those of any teen and not overly driven by angst over a girl, as Tobey Maguire so often portrayed.
While Peter experiences the challenges of teen love and Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), the film keeps it personal by having fewer explosions and more introspection. Emphasizing Peter’s existential responsibility to forge his own character makes this film a cut above even the estimable Wonder Woman this summer.
The spot-on humor is better than any other superhero adventure in memory, and I’m a big Deadpool fan. The difference is that Spidey humor is organic, emanating from the foibles and insecurities of a teen, while in Deadpool practically every other line is witty and seems the product of set pieces. In Spidey, for instance, Ned (Jacob Batalon) asks Spidey, “Can you summon an army of spiders?” That’s teen to teen with absurdity and worship as comedic ingredients.
In a fine bad-guy performance by Michael Keaton, playing Adrien Toombs, the writers give him the identity of Vulture, appropriate to an actor known for his portrayal of Birdman and reminiscent of Batman. Anyway, alluding to his most famous roles, the film has fun while enhancing the richness of the character.
At times it almost seems that Toombs is there to lend some gravity, albeit villainous, to the light-hearted proceedings. When he lectures his crew about the ruling-class indifference, he’s not just talking about Brooklyn; he’s referring to the world:
“The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don't care about us! The world's changed boys, time we change too!”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a fitting companion this summer to a distaff heroine, Wonder Woman. Unfortunately, Spidey is not all laughs, for Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) tells Peter about adolescence while she unwittingly comments on his heroic burden: “You need to stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com