*** SPOILER ALERT ***
Since it was announced several months ago, I have been looking forward to seeing the Marvel Studios Spider-Man Homecoming film. I did get the opportunity to do so recently and after seeing it and thinking about it, I have some mixed feelings about it.
Homecoming is the story of young Peter Parker and his struggle to come into his own as a superhero. During the day, mild-mannered Parker is a student at a science and technology school, but as soon as the bell rings, he dons the Spidey suit he received from Tony Stark and swings into action locating and working to stop a few petty crimes, and at times, manages to make little more than a nuisance of himself. In one funny scene, Parker tries to stop a car theft, but the would be thief turns out to be the owner of the vehicle trying to break in to retrieve his keys. However, on one fateful evening, Parker finally gets what he thinks might be his big break as he foils an ATM theft being perpetrated by a group of thugs using some high tech equipment and weapons.
It turns out that the weapons are being supplied by one Adrian Toomes, a former salvage company owner who learned about the weapons when he was assigned to help cleanup New York following the Battle of New York from the 2012 film, The Avengers. Unfortunately, Toomes company was replaced by Stark’s U.S. Department of Damage control, which launched Toomes into his life of crime building and selling high tech equipment on the black market.
While as Spider-Man, Parker is a formidable foe for Toomes and his henchmen, but he is not quite up to the task of taking him down alone, at least not at first. Stark, who has been mentoring Parker since he was recruited to help Team Iron Man in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War. In an incident in which Parker thought he had an opportunity to take Toomes down while making a weapons deal, hundreds of lives are put in danger when the Staten Island Ferry was split in half by one of Toomes weapons that malfunctioned, and it took Iron Man stepping in to cleanup the mess and save the ferry from sinking. It was at that point that Stark Determined that Parker was just not mature enough to handle the big problems, so he takes the Spidey suit back.
More determined than ever, Parker uses his old suit, made from a conglomeration of street clothes, to continue to pursue Toomes. Again, Toomes proves just way too tough and winds up trapped under a pile of rubble and left to die while Toomes hijacks a plane full of the technology salvaged from the destroyed Avengers Tower. While trapped, Parker realizes that what stark has told him is true and when he finally manages to free himself, he intercepts the plane and crash-lands it near Coney Island. When Toomes’ Vulture suit malfunctions, Parker steps in and saves Toomes’ life leaving him and the plane to be confiscated by police.
There is a lot that I liked about this film. While I am not a huge Spider-Man fan, I do like the way that Tom Holland portrays Parker and how he is written. Most of his quips as he thinks out loud and his banter as he does battle are awesome and just as I remember them from the comics, but are up to date to fit today’s lingo. Peter Parker is a neat kid that I wouldn’t mind having in my classroom and I enjoy his quick wit. I also liked Aunt May, who is way more savvy than her comic book counterpart (as I remember her). It was neat seeing Michael Keaton on the screen again, a bit aged, but just the same. I have always enjoyed the way he seems to be calm and cool on the outside, but still there is a sense that something is boiling underneath, and when he goes off, watch out!
The main story is good, but in a discussion I had with my son about this movie, he helped me realize that there are some departures in the script that don’t seem to make sense or are not completely necessary for the story. It is also quite predictable and would seem to suffer a bit from lazy writing and directing, as well as what in my mind are some attempts at some cheap laughs.
One of the major things I did not like was seeing Tony Stark fall back into his stand-up routine of one cheeky remark after another. After seeing the three Iron Man films, I was hoping that I would see some maturity in the character. I was pleased when it finally started happening in Age of Ultron and how the trend continued in Civil War, but it was short lived and we have the old Stark back, a character that I am having a lot of trouble finding respect for.
Over the years, I have been enjoying the Marvel movies and have come to trust them as something I can take my daughter to without having to worry about questionable content. There were several moments in this film that I felt were inappropriate to the story and displayed blatant bad taste. At one point in the film, Parker is on the phone with Aunt May while Stark is present. Stark talks to her saying “Hey May! How ya’ doin’? What are ya wearin’? Something Skimpy I hope…” which he follows up with “okay, that’s inappropriate.” Yeah, no kidding it’s inappropriate, and also bordering on sexual harassment.
In another couple of scenes, there are scenes of bullying by one of Parker’s classmates as he continues to refer to Parker as “Penis” Parker instead of Peter. In this day when schools are working to minimize this sort of behavior, there is no place for it in a superhero film that will most likely be viewed by many younger children despite the PG-13 rating. In one scene, the bullying character is acting as DJ at a party and using a sound system to get everyone at the party to join in by yelling “When I say penis, you say Parker!” and then leads the party-goers in repeatedly trying to humiliate Parker.
In yet another scene during the Homecoming dance, Ned is in the school’s computer lab helping Parker track Toomes weapons. When a teacher enters the room and asks Ned what he is doing, he responds, “Oh I was just, um… Looking at… Porn.” How would you enjoy explaining that to your pre-teen child?
Once again, Stark weighs in when he chews Parker out for his failure on the Ferry by telling him, “You screwed the pooch hard, big time. But then you did the right thing. You took the dog to the free clinic, you raised the hybrid puppies.” and then he once again finishes with “alright, not my best analogy.” No it isn’t, and it is also not necessary.
In the final scene of the film, after Parker gets his Spider suit back from Stark, he is standing in his room with the suit on as Aunt May breaks into the room and exclaims “What the F---!” although the scene is cut off before May is able to finish the word, everyone knows what she was going to say.
There are several other instances of language in this film that one may or may not feel are appropriate to the characters or the story, but really Marvel, is this what we are going to stoop to in future films? Cheap laughs? Bathroom humor? It hasn't been necessary in the past and I hope it doesn’t become a part of the future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I am by no means a prude, I’ve been around the block and know the ropes, but as far as I am concerned, some of what I saw and heard in this film is simply gratuitous and over the top.
But there are also some real gems of scenes that are absolutely very cool. While I have spoiled a lot here, I will not spoil the final scene at the end of the credits, if you see this film, do not leave early, it will be worth it.
Well, there it is…