Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming

2017, PG-13, 133 min. Directed by Jon Watts. Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 7, 2017

Tom Holland’s borderline goofball introduction in Captain America: Civil War boded well for this third big-screen incarnation of Marvel’s most popular and relatable teen superhero. Swinging into a melee way over his head – but under Ant-Man’s, go figure – you could finally feel the gosh-wow giddiness of a 15-year-old just barely getting the hang of his powers while still being a kid. (“I stole Captain America’s shield,” he crows in Homecoming.

Not to downplay Sam Raimi’s first two forays into the mighty Marvel extended universe way back in 2002 and 2004, which were great fun (best not to mention his third outing), and while we’re reshuffling the deck, let’s just all pretend 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man never happened – but director Watts returns your friendly neighborhood web-slinger to his often laugh-out-loud juvenile roots. As bug-bitten Peter Parker, Holland brings just the right amount of teenage uncertainty and ill-advised derring-do to the role. This Spider-Man is less the fully formed Avenger that he will surely one day become and more of a wise-cracking, accident-prone youth who frequently overestimates his own abilities while trying to prove himself to mentor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Downey Jr., coolly flip as always). Holland is the most realistic Parker/Spider-Man of them all, and he’s signed on for multiple Marvel outings, so audiences will finally get the chance to see the boy become a man in relatively real time.

As villain du jour, Michael Keaton brings a gravelly, working-man panache to the role of high-flying baddie the Vulture. The weakest link in the film – possibly due to the six screenwriters involved here – is that the Vulture’s backstory is all but glossed over. A demolition and scrap metal engineer who oversees a crew cleaning up after the Avengers' alien-debris-laden messes, he’s a working stiff cut off from his day job when S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up, and thus retires to a life of crime selling deadly Ultron tech to the highest bidder. Keaton sinks his teeth into the role as much as he can – those eyebrows and ultra-intense gaze continue to serve him well – but you end up wishing you knew more about this particularly fascinating evildoer-cum-family guy.

There’s plenty of nifty action set-pieces on display here – including a decidedly unamazing but hilarious gag involving Spidey and a kid’s tree house – but for the first time, the most popular of all of Marvel’s 1960s-era characters genuinely focuses less on the amazing and more on the boy behind the mask, and that’s a welcome change of pace. ‘Nuff said.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Jon Watts
I Smell (Kevin) Bacon
I Smell (Kevin) Bacon
Two kids take the titular Cop Car on a joyride in this lean thriller

Caitlin Moore, Aug. 7, 2015

More Jon Watts Films
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Everyone's favorite web-slinger returns for a new era of Marvel

Richard Whittaker, July 5, 2019

Cop Car
Two boys go on the lam in Kevin Bacon's cop car

Marc Savlov, Aug. 7, 2015

More by Marc Savlov
A stunning look at life buried under the Rust Belt poverty line

June 11, 2021

The Carnivores
Austin-made relationship horror takes a bite out of the trauma of love

June 4, 2021


Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jon Watts, Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle