Last Updated on 07/09/2017 (forgot one thing in the Ratings section – thanks Adam D.!)
The latest iteration of your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is back on the big screen this weekend. After debuting in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker is ready for his solo act. So what do you need to know before you throw on your favorite Spidey shirt and head down to the local theater? Read on, True Believers!
1. Will I Like It?
Um. Yuh-HUH! Take everything that you know about the Spider-Man mythos, chuck it in a blender, and pour it out when it’s smooth. That’s Homecoming. There’s no lingering on what happened to Uncle Ben. There’s no constant obsessing over Aunt May finding out about his alter ego. Heck, there’s not any origin story at all other than a throwaway line stuck in the script as if to tell the audience “Yeah, we know you know, here it is. You good?” There’s none of the baggage that has traditionally weighed down the Sony Spider-Man films. In its place we get Tom Holland as the most believable high schooler ever, plenty of sophomore high school drama, a deeply refreshing diverse cast, and quips. So, so many quips. Plus, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is the most honest, believable villain since, well, since ever. There’s no plan to take over the world. There’s no sadistic revenge plot to kill all superheroes. There’s just a guy who sees an opportunity and wants to make the best living he can to support his family.
2. Will My Kids Like It?
Most definitely. There are some edge-of-your-seat scenes that might make younger kids nervous and some definite physical peril, but overall the body count is low. Spider-Man has always been about the fun and joy of having these amazing powers and doing the best he can with them. And that shows in every scene. Above everything else, Homecoming is a delight to watch.
3. Do I have to have seen anything else to enjoy it?
Technically? No. The movie does a great job of catching up those who might have missed Civil War, but I would still say watching the last Captain America movie is highly recommended as there are plenty of callbacks to it (and you should anyway–it’s still my favorite Marvel movie of all time). It’s obvious that the production team wanted audiences to be able to drop in on Spidey and his amazing friends without worrying about a lot of backstory. At the same time, Homecoming, more than almost any other MCU film before it, deeply rewards those that have stuck with the Marvel Movieverse. The more you know about the other movies, the more Easter eggs you’ll catch.
4. Easter eggs?
So, so many Easter eggs. The movie starts right after the end of the first Avengers and just keeps rolling from there. Pete’s New York is definitely the ground zero we’ve seen for Tony and the gang these past five years. This is the NYC public school system shaped by a reality where aliens fall from the sky and super soldiers are thawed from icebergs. Incidentally, Captain America’s PSAs are a thing of beauty and I hope there are more on the DVD. Homecoming also introduces comic elements such as Damage Control, friends like Ultimate Spider-Man’s pal Ganke (yeah, so his name is Ned here, he’s totally Ganke), and low-level Spidey villains like the Shocker. There’s also a great scene that’s straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (which, if you miss it, is shown during that scene). In fact, that might be my only complaint about the movie. In their eagerness to make sure no one misses the winks and nods, almost every “hidden” character and reference is explicitly mentioned at some point. They do manage to keep a few good twists close to the chest though, with great payoffs. And make sure you pay close attention to everyone’s names and nicknames; there are at least a couple of characters that you’ll only figure out by watching carefully. Old school fans will also recognize the tune that plays over the Marvel Studios bumper in the opening credits.
5. When’s a good time to go to the bathroom?
With a runtime of two hours and ten minutes, you might want to skip the upgraded large Coke Icee. There’s not a lot of great spots, but right after Ned finds out about Pete’s superhero act, you can sneak out. Most of the best parts of that scene and his inquiries about the range of Pete’s powers the next day have already been shown in previews. There’s another scene later in Maryland, right when Spidey sneaks out and runs into Liz that makes for some choice Spidey-brand comedy, but isn’t necessary to keep track of the plot.
6. How appropriate is the PG-13 rating?
It’s on the nose–Tooms will do whatever he needs to do in order to get the job done, and that means lots of explosions and a few untimely fates met. Spidey also gets put through a lot of physical trauma in his pursuit to make sure that justice is served. There are also a few nasty taunts (think about what part of the male anatomy is called “Peter” and you’ll guess it), a (comic) mention of porn, and one perfectly edited near F-bomb.
7. How many LEGO Death Stars did they have to drop to get that one scene?
Appropriately enough, seven. My heart goes out to the on-set builders that not only had to build them but had to see them destroyed so callously.
8. Are there extras after the credits?
Does Spider-Man’s webbing dissolve on its own after two hours? The end credit sequence is a nice bit of pop art. Then there’s a satisfying mid-credits scene that sets up potential future films and gives solid closure on one of the dangling plot threads. If you stick around till the very end though, your “patience” will be rewarded.
9. Is there a Stan Lee cameo?
While there’s no mention of whether or not Stan is a cosmic being that’s helping the Watchers keep tabs on the MCU, everyone’s favorite Comic Book King is most certainly back.
10. Does Spider-Man do anything a spider can?
Homecoming really nails not only the tone of a high school kid imbued with amazing strength and agility and all the cockiness and bravado that would bring, but it does a solid job of exploring exactly what Spidey’s powers are (without resorting to exposition). It’s always bugged me that Spider-Man seems to swing from imaginary anchor points for his webs, even in the suburbs. That’s addressed perfectly here.
Bonus Question: Is IMAX 3D worth it?
I didn’t see Spider-Man: Homecoming in IMAX or regular 3D, and didn’t really feel like I was cheated out of anything. However, fellow GeekDad Matt Blum did and thought it was (in his words)…
…amazing. Not only did it give things more depth (and didn’t make anything too dark IMO), but I suspect it made it easier to follow several of the fight scenes which changed perspective often enough to push the movie towards (though by no means into) Michael Bay-ness. Also, the IMAX 3D version had a Spider-Man-ized version of the IMAX opening countdown, which was very cool.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is by far the best big screen adaptation we’ve ever gotten of the classic web-slinging superhero. It’s so good that it’s rocketed to take a spot in my top 5 MCU movies. It might not quite supplant Civil War, but it got incredibly close (ironically, I think it’s the introduction of Spider-Man in that movie that helped save it). If you’re a Marvel-phile, Spidey fan, or just a fan of superhero movies in general, you owe it to yourself to see this on the big screen this weekend.