IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Due to the fact that I moved houses (and Virgin Media fucked around with my internet) back in May, I wasn’t able to write a review for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as originally intended. And because I (for obvious reasoning) haven’t been able to re-watch the film, I am still unable to write a review on it. So, here’s what’s going to happen…
I’ll be skipping over the film entirely as I won’t be able to give it a fair analysis due to the fact I’ll be working off memories alone (and I prefer the product I’m reviewing to be fresh in my mind as it helps with giving a fair and in-depth review).
But not to worry because as soon as it’s released on Blu-Ray (which I have pre-ordered) I will finally give you my thoughts on it. So, apologises for the inconvenience (I know it’s certainly bugging the hell out of me at the moment [not helped at all by my strict rules of organisation – begging the question as to whether or not I have OCD]), but rest assured I did really enjoy the film and I can’t wait to share my thoughts about it with you.
After much exciting build-up Spider-Man has finally entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, he got an impressive extended cameo within Captain America: Civil War (where Tom Holland already managed to win the trust of the fandom) but this time round it was all just about him. And it was outstanding.
I’ll admit in retrospective that Sony Pictures haven’t done the best of job with Spider-Man, with the Sam Raimi Spider-Man Trilogy being rather repetitive (and quite frankly overrated), whilst The Amazing Spider-Man series featured the problem of convolution (and trying too damn hard), resulting in two very different versions of Spider-Man (with none of them quite getting it right). So, naturally, the best option for Sony Pictures was to hand the reins over to Marvel Studios so Spider-Man could be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (thus being done right).
Spider-Man: Homecoming represented everything we wanted to see from a Spider-Man film, incorporating all of the key elements from the comics, including Peter Parker’s youthfulness, i.e. his buzz of excitement and naivety. Before we always got this straight-forward character because the films would rush him into being Spider-Man, already knowing what’s right and what’s wrong (which took away a lot of the development process of becoming the hero). Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, treats the entire narrative as a progression curb for Peter as he slowly finds himself in the world of The Avengers.
What adds to this journey is his already existing connection to The Avengers from Captain America: Civil War. He was called in by Tony Stark, i.e. Iron Man, and given the opportunity to fight on his team to bring in Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. To him it was all a massive game, a fun activity where he got to live-out his fantasies, added by the fact that Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s perspective of events showcases Peter’s journey to the airport fight, documenting it via a video recording with an over excited narrative buzz throughout (right down to him first discovering his new suit [and just being out of the US for the very first time]). This is where the niaviety comes in, making him a completely unique hero within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Because he’s younger than all the other heroes we’ve seen he doesn’t have the best understanding of the world around him. His involvement within Captain America: Civil War proved this as he wasn’t aware of what was fully going on (particularly the politics involved), and was easily manipulated by Tony to join his side. From then on Tony became a mentor figure to him to which Peter wanted to impress, whilst also thinking he was already an Avenger (constantly updating Tony with news on his progress as a hero, whilst desperately awaiting his next major mission).
This shows through his distractions at school as he becomes near oblivious to the world around him, only really caring about his work as Spider-Man. I really loved this aspect of the narrative because it instantly became the most detailed, and personal, struggle we’d seen Peter go through on the big-screen. It also felt really natural. The dilemma is very clear and in the mind of a teenager you’d know how strong the dilemma would become. On one hand you have the mundane life of school (and the possibility of a normal life afterwards) or on the other-hand you’re Spider-Man who can save lives and ultimately become an Avenger.
But the naivety is what makes Peter’s character (within this rendition) so perfect. It creates this really relatable character who you want to follow. And the best part is, you can’t get mad at him for his foolish decisions because Peter is at a delicate point in life where change is happening everywhere, and with the inclusion of superpowers, you feel you relate to the decisions he has to make (at least to some degree anyway). There are many moments throughout the film where he has the opportunity to attend an event as Peter (thus trying to progress his awkward social life due to being the nerd at school, and not being able to attract the ladies) but ultimately ditches this to be Spider-Man.
That right there became the base-line of his journey, i.e. the struggle of understanding who Peter Parker is. For the majority of the film he wasn’t Peter, he was Spider-Man. That’s all that mattered to him because Peter wasn’t anything special, lacking the understanding that both personas were as important as the other. Most of this understanding was blinded by his attempts to impress Tony, to which he has to go through Harold “Happy” Hogan (yep, Marvel Studios brought back Jon Favreau and he fits in perfectly).
At first Happy’s inclusion seemed a bit odd (considering Sony Pictures had the choice to include any two Marvel Cinematic Universe characters within their film as an extended cameo) but it quickly became apparent that this cameo made sense. Happy is forced (by Tony) to keep an eye on Peter (to which he isn’t impressed about) whilst dealing with the moving of The Avengers’ gear (including an upgraded Shield for Captain America [not sure what this was alluding to – perhaps it was something left over or Tony has been preparing for Steve’s return, knowing that they are still on friendly grounds despite their severe scrap]) from the Avengers Tower to their new base (first seen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron).
It’s quite a humorous progression for Happy’s character being downgraded (whilst enjoying the bantering relationship him and Tony hold), and it was simply nice to see him back (given we last saw him in Iron Man 3 all the way back in 2013). As for Tony’s inclusion, it was an extended cameo in order for him to watch over Peter (making sure he didn’t do anything he wasn’t supposed to). For the most part it seems like he’s trying to keep him under control (perhaps due to the Sovokvia Accords) but it becomes much more personal. In some ways his appearance felt off with his current character, having just been through the events of Captain America: Civil War, along with his continued blind-paranoia to keep the world in-check due to his continuous mistakes.
He didn’t seem like he was being a massive arsehole anymore, filled to the brim with egotistical bullshit. Instead, he almost seems like he’s finally starting to redeem himself from all the shit he got himself into (starting in Iron Man 3). Through Peter he was trying to start a new leaf. At first it appeared he may have wanted to turn Peter into himself, but in fact it was the opposite. Tony saw a bit of himself in Peter but didn’t want him to fall down the wrong path, i.e. end up like a prick like himself who doesn’t understand responsibility until it’s far too late, thus wanted him to be better than him.
But of course Peter doesn’t see it this way and at every turn is being irresponsible in his determination to become the hero. Most of the time he doesn’t think things through, often than not putting his life in severe danger (and even creating some nasty enemies along the way), and generally doesn’t take thing seriously. And this is the joy of watching his progression because he’s just a kid trying to be an adult, clearly unable to comprehend the huge leap until he stumbles upon some really important life-lessons.
As the narrative progresses, we have this really unique pacing as you see the continuous conflict between Peter’s life as a high-schooler and as Spider-Man, which constantly elevates. He keeps missing out on all the fun of being a teenager because he’s too busy trying to be responsible as a hero (but at the same time failing to understand the gravity of the situation and knowing that his life as Peter is just as important). To give Peter some credit though he is always trying to do the right thing (but it’s all a learning curb). But what he lacks in is experience and knowing how to calm down his excitement levels.
Throughout you get these genuine moments where the hero starts to seep through as he performs some heroic acts, such as saving his friends from a damaged lift (or elevator in the US). But it takes a lot for him to get to these points which makes the progression feel more organic. He doesn’t just jump to the big league (despite sort of starting their with Captain America: Civil War [but then you have to remember he was acting on his own for 6 months prior to his meeting with Tony]) and earns his place as the new hero on the block.
It’s rather hilarious seeing his desperation towards the beginning where he’s trying to find things to do but all of the crimes he’s trying to deal with are petty, with his credibility being rather low as the people of Queens, New York just don’t fully take him seriously.
The interesting turning point is where Peter has to learn that his heroic actions are actually causing more harm than good (first indicated when he gets a local business destroyed in the process of trying to stop thugs with high-tech weaponry). In an attempt to bring in The Vulture Peter ultimately nearly sinks a ship and places everyone aboard in mortal danger, resulting in Tony having to save the day. Uninprised with not being able to follow orders, and not thinking things through (thus performing reckless actions) Tony decides to take away Peter’s suit and strip him of his responsibility as Spider-Man.
It’s this moment that becomes a clear turning point for Peter’s character as he finally learns that he is just a kid who has gotten himself into a situation he doesn’t fully understand and needed the time to learn how be Spider-Man. Again, his childish nature was perfectly shown through him overriding the suit to get around Tony’s control, thus bringing him into contact with all the cool stuff his suit could do (along with forming his relationship with his computer interface [which, honestly, brought about some great laughs]) and had no idea how to use them in the middle of combat because he was rushing his progression (thinking he could do what the other Avengers could do off the bat).
This moment became quite harsh for Peter because he had already displayed his reckless actions of throwing away his existence because he generally believed that his life as Spider-Man would become his destiny, and now that future was taken away from him he didn’t have anything to fall back onto. It was a really cruel life lesson but he needed it to showcase that his life as Peter Parker meant something and shouldn’t have been taken for granted. Tony Stark also learnt this, he wasn’t just Iron Man, thus making him a better person (for the most part). By hiding behind his suit Peter was taking away from himself any chance of a personal life, and in many ways, making Spider-Man less of a hero.
I do have to mention the really great cast of characters that we see Peter interact with, making his personal life all the more compelling (and thus making his dilemma more powerful because there is genuine elements he’s leaving behind).
We have a best friend incorporated into the plot (which actually added so many elements and personal conflict with Peter’s progression as Spider-Man). Ned displays the same giddiness as Peter does, showcasing a fun nerdy character (who still gets excited over building Lego) that wants to share in the thrills of Spider-Man’s adventures. It’s actually really cool that he gets the opportunity to save Peter during a battle with Shocker, to which he goes on to become his right-hand man on the computer (guiding him along). Plus, his excuse as to why he’s using the schools laptops during Homecoming is just priceless (I mean, I saw the excuse coming a mile off but that didn’t for one second destroy the magical moment).
Then you obviously have Eugene “Flash” Thompson who always appears as Peter’s school bully, but this time round he’s actually used really well. They changed him up to be a more sophisticated character beyond the simple jock that picks on the dweebs. Instead, he’s actually quite smart too but not as smart as Peter, becoming jealous of him due to the ease he has at learning and gaining the respect of his peers, to which Flash has to put the effort in and as a result vents out his frustrations by trying to make Peter look like an arse at every turn through negative phrases or words.
There’s also Michelle (who I suspected was meant to be MJ [with the penny sort-of dropping when she finally reveals her nickname as MJ]) who is the funniest of the side-characters because she just acts cool all the time, coming up with lame excuses as to why she does strange things, making her weird behaviour really likable (plus I like her inquisitive mind as she continuously questions Peter’s movements). And then you have Liz who at first seems like the typical high-school love interest but she’s also intelligent and quite normal (basically not the queen-bee that all the guys idolise over just for her looks), even being caring and understanding towards Peter (which, again, adds to his dilemma of skipping out on his life as a high-schooler).
Of course one of the greatest aspects of this film was its villain. Yes, we finally have development, to which Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, is really relatable. In fact, his storyline is not too dissimilar to Helmut Zemo from Captain America: Civil War (only this time the villain wasn’t completely pointless, wasn’t a hypocrite, and actually had a scheme that wasn’t fucking baffling). In fact, it’s rather clever how Adrian’s journey to becoming the villain heavily ties Spider-Man: Homecoming into the established events of previous instalments (making this film [that was made by Sony Pictures] feel less of an extension to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and rather a fully integrated instalment).
Adrian is contracted to salvage the remains of the Chitauri’s technology (after the events of Avengers Assemble) but his business ultimately gets shutdown after Tony establishes his own department to deal with the mess. This forces him into a life of crime in order to continue giving financial support to his family. He starts stealing the technology gathered over the course of the other instalments in order to build weapons to sell on, making himself a specially crafted winged suit so he can fly around and perform his heists. But what makes him very relatable is his connection to family. He doesn’t want to live a life of crime, it’s simply the hand he’s been dealt with and this dark decision becomes his burden in order to keep his family secure.
Adrian is making the most with what he’s got (thanks to Tony) and never strives to hurt anyone, or become a supervillain. Also, I like how his connection with Tony reflects Peter’s connection with Tony. Adrian at one point tries to make Peter understand the deeper perspective of the world around him (particularly when it comes to Tony and how he is manipulating Peter for his own personal agenda). Things become even more complicated upon a truly well crafted “What the fuck?” moment where it’s revealed (in the most awkward way possible) that Adrian is Liz’s father. Shit the bed!
Peter (no less) discovers this upon picking Liz up for Homecoming, having to endure one of the tenses moments of the entire film (to which even made me feel uncomfortable [and I was just watching the fucking scenes]). Things escalate when Adrian fits the pieces together and realises that Peter is Spider-Man, placing him in a difficult position because he both hates Spider-Man for continuously messing with his operations, but also respects him because Spider-Man saved Liz from death. It was in this moment you saw the clear line between his honour and his determination to protect his family, resorting to threatening to kill Peter and everyone he loves if he didn’t back-off.
This final segment perfectly wraps up Peter’s journey as he finally realises who he must be, ultimately allowing Spider-Man to become his full potential. Peter fights off Adrian in a brilliant fight sequence that takes them from the sky, down to the beach below, where Peter is challenged greatly, along with Adrian as his desperation nearly gets the better of him. Luckily, we end on a near happy note where Peter shows his true heroics by actually saving Adrian from himself, and although the villain is sent to prison there is a mutual respect put in place, allowing Spider-Man: Homecoming to have one of the most well developed hero/villain relationships within the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And things only get better as the conclusion alludes to so many great things for Spider-Man’s future. We have the fantastic moment where Peter grows-up and declares (to himself) that he’s not ready to be an Avenger after it is offered to him by Tony (which even ends with a nice little cameo from Pepper Potts [to which I thought had tragically disappeared from the franchise] allowing Tony to have his moment to finally ask her to marry him [as a form of replacement from announcing Spider-Man as the latest Avengers member]).
But the position is still open to him when he feels he’s ready (hint, hint Avengers: Infinity War) whilst in the meantime he continues to be “the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man” after Tony returns his suit to him (now knowing he is ready for the responsibility of heroism). Also, Aunt May discovering Peter is Spider-Man at the very end is just fucking brilliant, along with the mid-credit scene hinting at the possible inclusion of Scorpion within the sequel, along with the absolute trolling of Steve in the after-credits scene (trust me, it’s worth waiting for [which is the whole point really]).