It is my assigned function to review the Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures’ motion picture Spider-Man: Homecoming. If subsidiary companies putting aside bureaucratic red tape in a joint effort to bring you committee-produced and screen-tested to oblivion adverts sounds compelling then Spider-Man: Homecoming ought to be right up your alley. That preceding sentence is unfortunately this review’s singular upshot, as what follows is Chapter XI, Section 2, Article 3 of my ongoing series on why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the absolute worst.
Another cog in a flimsy wheel, Spider-Man: Homecoming opens with a hasty prologue setting up its villain. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) and his cadre of nameless blue-collar thugs are rounding up scrap metal following an Avengers melee. This residual job creation is immediately put to a halt, with a consultant group representing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) opting to privatize this collateral damage clean up, effectively drawing the ire of our working class hero.. erm, villain? So much has been written about Marvel’s quote unquote villain problem that it ceases to be an issue, but the problematic dichotomy that this prologue establishes echoes throughout the film, where a palpable sense of working class values clash with billionaire interests. It’s the fact that the film – again, brought to you as a joint effort from Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, themselves subsidiaries of, as you can imagine, unimaginably large conglomerates- advocates those billionaire interests over working class values that’s most troubling.
But now to our hero: our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland). In the film’s continued efforts for interconnectivity, we see sequences from Captain America: Civil War from Spider-Man’s perspective; himself so smitten with the notion of working alongside already established commercial properties/super-heroes. But this brief interlude hardly quenches Spider-Man’s thirst for fame and membership into the Avengers. Stark doesn’t return his calls so Spider-Man is forced to attend to the concerns of his NYC neighborhood, which more or less finds the character thwarting bike thieves or mistaking car thefts.
The most (potentially) intriguing element about Spider-Man: Homecoming involves Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s high school life, though I’m afraid the film doesn’t do anything remotely interesting with this milieu. The film posits that Peter’s greatest challenge involves his waning disinterest in school (youth) as he attempts to embrace his Spider-Man identity (adulthood), but the consequences of these competing qualities rarely yield anything especially dramatic or compelling. This is only exacerbated by the film’s continued desire to weave Homecoming’s narrative within a pastiche of other superhero films. Tony Stark’s continued presence as a sage mentor becomes especially taxing as the character becomes a didactic loudspeaker designed to belt out bits of wisdom whenever dramatically convenient.
But as is any advertisement’s wont, Spider-Man: Homecoming manages to suggest everything and ultimately mean nothing. Every component of the picture, from Marisa Tomei’s thankless role as Aunt May, to the various students that adorn Peter’s high school, merely buttress the objective of stitching Spider-Man into a universe of other superheroes so as to sell 13” Marvel action figures. This, in itself, doesn’t bother me so much. This is all sugary confection for children that contains a questionable ideology, but what do I care; I don’t have kids. But when a grown man in his 30s accosts me at the end of a screening bewildered that I would leave before the first of apparently several post-credits sequences, I’m left asking myself: where have we all gone wrong?