Spider-Man: Homecoming is my favourite Marvel movie yet.
I told my dad this last night, right after I came home from the theatre, and he said, “really? Your favourite? Not even the Cap movies?” I said yes, without a doubt. Here’s why.
(spoilers below the cut)
In general, Marvel movies operate on a more-than-human level. Don’t get me wrong—I love big, otherworldly action movies, and I’ve never found a Marvel movie I didn’t like. But watching the Avengers take down the Chitauri, and Thor and Loki fighting each other, or Scarlet Witch shove Vision miles down through the Earth.
But Peter Parker is different. He doesn’t operate on international, galaxy-wide levels. He’s a just a fifteen-year-old kid from Brooklyn, and in turn, the movie is decidedly mortal. Peter may be genetically enhanced, thanks to that radioactive spider, but everything else is very, very mundane. Venom is just a guy with a pair of alien metal wings trying to provide for his family. Iron Man is just a dude trying to help a kid not make the mistakes he did, while making a lot of the same mistakes his father did. Peter is a nerd with a nerdy best friend who is just trying to fit in.
It’s a superhero movie, but it’s a coming-of-age film about a teenager trying to find his place in the world, too. And that’s what made it work.
Spider-Man has always been my favourite superhero because he has always seemed the most real and the most human. One of the first superhero films I ever watched and liked was the original (rebooted) Spider-Man series with Tobey Maguire, but even then, there was something missing for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of MJ, or either Osborne, but I liked Peter, despite Maguire’s questionable crying abilities—and the idea of super-humans intrigued me.
Then, in 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man came out, and I fell in love with Peter Parker. Sure, superheroes were cool before, but my knowledge of them at the time mostly centered around Superman and Batman, both of whom were okay characters but still ones I couldn’t relate to in the slightest bit. Spider-Man, on the other hand, was a completely different story. He was nerdy and didn’t try to hide it. He didn’t fit in in high school, and he wasn’t cool. His origin story, which is in my opinion of one of the most crucial parts of a superhero, was not based on selflessness: he starts his vigilante career trying to get vengeance for his uncle’s death. He doesn’t want to be a superhero; he’s angry. Eventually, he does don the suit to help others, but in the beginning, his goal is selfish: to find his uncle’s killer. His alter-ego was born out of bad circumstances, and he chose to rise above it and accept the mantle he was given.
As a shy, awkward and nerdy kid who never liked high school and (at that time especially) carried around a lot of anger, I understood Peter Parker. When Uncle Ben died, I almost cried. At the end of the second movie, I actually did.
Spider-Man: Homecoming works because it takes all the nerdy-ness from the previous films and amplifies it. By making Peter even younger—fifteen—and casting actors that actually looked like they could be in high school, Marvel was able to create something incredibly special. Without the usual super-human trappings characteristic of the MCU, Peter was even more human than before. He’s a genetically enhanced superhero, but more importantly, he’s a fifteen-year-old boy trying to navigate high school, a crush on the most popular girl in school, and a secret alter-ego. Aunt May mistakes Peter’s weird habits for puberty; his Homecoming date’s father turns out to be his mortal enemy.
Peter Parker is so well-loved because he retains that childish enthusiasm of a teenager trying to prove themselves—only instead of trying to prove to his parents that he’s an adult, he’s trying to prove to Tony Stark that he’s ready for the big leagues. He has that drive, that thirst, to be better—to do better—and to try and show everyone who’s ever doubted him (especially Tony) that he’s capable of holding his own. All the while, he’s trying to figure out how to do that. How to balance being fifteen and being a superhero.
I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming. I loved it from the opening scene, when Peter excitedly videoed his mission to the adventures with awe-struck glee, to the very ending. I loved Michelle (a.k.a. MJ), and Ned. I loved that they took the time to make the villain human, too, and I loved Donald Glover’s cameo (this article from Decider explains why. I loved that they played the original Spider-Man theme song.
I really, really loved Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I hope you will, too.
(Though I gotta say: that post-credits scene made me laugh, but I was still unnecessarily pissed.)
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Disclaimer: Spider-Man: Homecoming belongs to Marvel Entertainment. I am in no way affiliated with the company or movie, and these images do not belong to me.