I'm going to be completely honest with you: I can't say I was thrilled when it was announced a year or so ago that yet another Spider-Man movie was in the works, so soon after the other five movies. I watched the first three from 2001 to 2007 and enjoyed them for what they were, but I realize that they were pretty poor in terms of being true to the Spider-Man comics. I actually didn't see The Amazing Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 because I thought they were way too similar to the first three films, even though they received far better reviews and apparently offered a better depiction of Spider-Man and its characters.
It wasn't until Captain America: Civil War when we got our first look as Tom Holland as Spider-Man that I took an interest in the soon-to-be-relaunched franchise, because he played the part to perfection and had a natural wit about him. Combine that with the fact that I've watched almost every Marvel movie that has been released since the first Avengers film in 2012 and I pretty much had to see Spider-Man: Homecoming, especially after all the early reviews indicated it was worth seeing. Sure enough, I was not disappointed.
First and foremost, I really appreciated the movie not retelling the story of Peter Parker getting bitten by the spider, Uncle Ben getting killed, and pretty much the whole background story we've heard a million times before. I know there were those who were upset by how elements essential to the Spider-Man story were left out, but why bother wasting time repeating things everyone already knows? I haven't watched Civil War since I first saw it in the theaters, but I'm almost positive Spider-Man's introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that movie explained his powers already. Thankfully, Spider-Man Homecoming went right into the heart of the matter.
Another thing that was anticipated to be a problem (but turned out not to be) was The Avengers having a huge presence in the film, overshadowing Spider-Man in the process. That was kind of the case in Civil War, but not in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tony Stark/Iron Man does play a pivotal role in Spider-Man's development and almost serves as a mentor to the up-and-coming hero, but he only appears sparingly throughout the film, saving his butt on a few occasions but letting him do most of the work. That's essentially it when it comes to The Avengers. Captain America shows up a handful of times, but not in real time; he is merely a part of PSA videos that are shown to students at Parker's high school in gym class and in detention, which is funny. The real lack of Avengers is also a good thing especially if future Spider-Man films won't be a part of the MCU at all.
I'm sure Spider-Man fans who are familiar with his history in the comics viewed the movie differently than someone such as me, likely taking exception with characters such as Liz and Ned in Homecoming that aren't present in the comics (and if they are, they don't share the same qualities of the characters from the movie). I haven't seen many people bothered by Liz and Ned, as both characters were nice additions to the story, especially Ned (and I liked how modernized he was). That said, I know Michelle being revealed as "MJ" at the end of film (and not being the same redhead Mary Jane from the comics and from other films) received criticism, and rightfully so to an extent. It didn't annoy me as much as many others, and I liked that swerve, leaving me to wonder how she'll win over Parker in future films.
Granted, Aunt May isn't an old woman in Homecoming like she was in the original trilogy, but no one is complaining about that, nor should they be. Instead, Aunt May is portrayed by a much younger (and more attractive) Marisa Tomei. I remember liking her a lot in The Wrestler (which I also reviewed here), and it makes a lot more sense to cast her as Aunt May over someone a lot older considering she's his aunt, not his grandmother. She's new to parenting and taking care of the awkward teenager, and although we don't see a lot of her, she shines in each of her appearances. Teasing that she now knows Peter is Spider-Man is also a cool cliffhanger for the next installment in the series.
Perhaps this is because I'm a big fan of what Marvel has created over the last five years or so, but I was thoroughly entertained by the spin Marvel put on the Spider-Man story. As noted, I liked the original trilogy for what it was, but I don't remember it being all that funny. Not that it needed be because it wasn't intended to be a comedy, but there were a lot of laughs in Homecoming, delivering the type of humor that has been present in the last few Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It will be interesting to see if the series retains that humor once it eventually becomes a Sony-only production down the road, but I assume that it won't because Tom Holland as a teenager full of angst is just excellent and works on many levels.
I mentioned earlier how I appreciated the little swerves that were sprinkled throughout the film to keep audience members on their toes while watching, but my favorite of them all was when it was revealed in the third act that Adrian Toomes a.k.a. Vulture was the father of the senior girl Peter had a crush on and planned on taking to homecoming, Liz. When Peter opened the door to Liz's house to pick her up for homecoming and saw Toomes, I almost expected that, thinking Toomes would take the girl he liked hostage (the standard formula for most movies pitting good against evil). What I didn't expect, however, was Toomes revealing himself as Liz's dad. Of course, he found out Peter was Spider-Man while driving the two of them to the dance, but that was an awesome development that allowed you to see the humane side of Toomes as well as the evil side.
Speaking of Toomes, Michael Keaton did an absolutely exceptional job as the main villain for the film. That should come as no surprise if you're familiar with any of his past roles in other movies he's done, but he was the highlight of Homecoming for me. Not only was his acting outstanding, his character motives were super well done. He wasn't your typical bad guy that simply wanted to reek havoc and force society to suffer. Rather, he became a criminal so he could provide for his family, and you nearly feel for him once you find out his family consists of Liz. His intentions were good, but his way of providing for his family was bad, so he's a unique kind of villain in that respect and I'm glad he didn't die and was instead put in prison. Spider-Man saved his daughter's life as well as his life, so that's why he didn't reveal Spider-Man's true identity at the end to his fellow inmates. The attention to detail was appreciated, to say the least.
As for the two post-credit scenes (there's one mid-credits and one a while later), the first one does show Toomes in prison talking to someone who we can only assume is Scorpion based off his tattoo. Could he be the main villain for the next movie? It also indicates we haven't seen the last of Toomes/Vulture in the Spider-Man saga. Meanwhile, the second post-credits scene shows Captain America doing another PSA on patience and how some things aren't always worth the wait. It's basically Marvel's way of poking fun at people waiting until after the credits are over to see something that doesn't meet their lofty expectations. Sure, it's annoying, but I got a kick out of it, and it didn't legitimately frustrate me; it was more like, "Dammit! They got me!" while also drawing back to a running gag from the movie.
So, what does the future of the franchise hold? I'm still not entirely sure what's up with Sony and Marvel and whether we'll see any more interaction between Spider-Man and other MCU characters. At this point, I'm going to say that we won't, but is there even a timetable for when Spider-Man will become Sony-exclusive again? Was Spider-Man turning down a spot in the The Avengers at the end Marvel's way of explaining his absence from the MCU going forward? Will the franchise meet a similar fate to the last two? Nothing is for certain right now other than the sequel being slated for a 2018 release. What's cool is that there's so much more that can be done with the series and Homecoming solely scratched the surface. I think it's for the better that there's more questions than answers at the moment because it forces us to look forward to what's next.
I'm not even sure Spider-Man: Homecoming was high up on my list of most anticipated movies of 2017, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would and it's undoubtedly been one of my favorite films I've seen so far this year. If you're a hardcore comic book fan, you're bound to find flaws with some storytelling elements and minor details, but you'll be satisfied, nevertheless. If you aren't a huge follower of the comics and are just looking for a fun movie, then Spider-Man: Homecoming is for you, too. There hasn't been a single Marvel movie I've seen that I didn't at least enjoy (I've largely stayed away from the Thor films but that's about it), and this installment was no exception. Despite there being so many additions to the ever-expanding MCU (and how many movies Marvel is pumping out each year nowadays), they've managed to maintain their luster and kill it every time. I have faith that the franchise, unlike its predecessors, will be a massive success for years to come.
Should you see this movie? Yes.