When I was but a wee spider-lad, my roving gang of pre-teen friends thought it would be fun to sit front row for the opening of Spider-Man, the new film by Sam Raimi starring Toby Maguire. I knew nothing of Maguire, and even less of Raimi, but I knew I loved the 90’s Spider-Man Animated Series, and was thrilled to find that movie Spider-Man brought some semblance of that action, melodrama, and Peter Parker to the screen. As I craned my neck skyward and nearly went blind, I remember thinking “We will have good Spider-Man movies for the rest of my life!”
Oh, the folly of youth. Sure, Spider-Man 2 improved upon the formula, with the best entry of the Raimi trilogy (we have Alfred Molina Ock to thank for that), but the remainder of the 2000’s were a downward spiral of web-slining disappointment. Spider-Man 3 is genuinely one of the most upsetting moments of my teen years, somewhere behind X-Men 3: The Last Stand, but quite possibly ahead of my prom date deciding to attend the dance with someone else in the eleventh hour. The Marc Webb / Andrew Garfield reboot of the series had occasionally noble intentions, but never scraped the highs of potential inherent in my favorite superhero of all time.
It seems only fitting then, that in order to see cinematic Spider-Man restored to prominence, I’d have to return to where it all started: Sitting front row in a sold-out theater, craning my neck to see Spider-Man *always* do the right thing, no matter what.
It’s right there in the headline, but Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is my favorite Spider-Man movie, and honestly it’s not that close. There has been a great deal of critical affection and nostalgic protecting of the Raimi films, and while I share the fond memories, the Raimi films do not bring Peter Parker to life nearly as well I thought they did as a wee spider-lad.
Homecoming on the other hand is everything I love about Spider-Man all rolled out in one delightfully succinct package. I must have smiled for an hour straight as the movie began. Peter’s funny, awkward, an absolute social misfit, and he always does the right thing no *matter what*.
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Admittedly, this is coming from a comic book fan who would declare to this day that Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Ultimate Spider-Man is one of the absolute best Marvel Comics of the 2000’s. There is perhaps some dichotomy between the Spider-Man of Earth-616 proper and those who have cherished the adventures of the modernized Ultimate Spider-Man. Much like just about every element of the MCU, Homecoming is deeply influenced by the Ultimate Universe.
Semantic fandom arguments aside, Homecoming is simply an excellent “Spider-Man in high school” narrative, of which there are simply far too few. There’s a perpetual desire in comics to see Peter Parker returned to his teenage roots, but the reality is Steve Ditko and Stan Lee had Peter graduating high school in Amazing Spider-Man within a few years of his creation!
Homecoming takes on the challenge with aplomb, delivering a notably diverse, true to life high school experience. Peter is simultaneously accepted and ostracized within his academic scholar cliques, a balance his nightly escapades as Spider-Man only exacerbates. When faced with the decision to attend a high school dance with his crush, Liz, Peter instead turns to face the harrowing threats of Michael Keaton’s Vulture.
He may be scared but he will not be intimidated into inaction. Not after Uncle Ben.
That’s a Spider-Man I will always want to spend time with.
Marvel Cinematic Universe Power Rankings
Every time a new Marvel movie or TV series is released I like to update my Marvel Cinematic Universe power rankings. As we hit 20+ entries, I’ve broken the power rankings into tiers that started with my Dr. Strange review.
Honestly, ranking Spider-Man was very difficult. My initial reaction was to place it #1 ahead of Avengers and call it a day, but that’s a bit much.
Tier 1: The Best
2) Alias aka Jessica Jones
3) Guardians of the Galaxy
4) Captain America 3: Civil War
Tier 2: Great
5) Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
6) Spider-Man: Homecoming
7) Daredevil (Seasons 1 & 2)
8) Iron Man
Tier 3: Good
9) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
10) Iron Man 3
11) Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
12) Dr. Strange
13) Captain America: The First Avenger
Tier 4: Mixed Feelings
15) Luke Cage
16) Thor 2: The Dark World
Tier 5: I’ll Watch On Cable With a Comic In Hand
18) Agents of SHIELD
19) Agent Carter (Season One, pretending Season Two didn’t happen)
20) Incredible Hulk
Tier 6: Nope
21) Iron Man 2
22) Dry heaving in a porta potty
23) Iron Fist
10 Thoughts On Spider-Man: Homecoming
1) Easter Eggs
I’ve been unreasonably annoyed by articles declaring blatant character reveals “Spider-Man: Homecoming” easter eggs. With the lone exception of Donald Glover (an actual deeper cut that requires some explanation for even Amazing Spider-Man fans), a bad guy named Mac Gargan with a Scorpion tattoo on his neck is not an easter egg. That’s a flippin’ Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 bad guy omelette bar.
That said, I loved Homecoming’s selection of Spidey villains we haven’t seen on screen before. There’s Vulture, of course, but the infusion of Shocker, Scorpion, and the Tinkerer (that one even took me a minute) were all nice touches. Shocker gets the shortest end of the stick, although I can understand a general reluctance to fully quilt a grown man on screen.
2) 2017 Comic Book Movie & TV Rankings
This year’s proving historically difficult to rank the best of comic book media. I’ve written before about the best comic book draft class by year, but so far 2017 is putting them all to shame.
Here’s how I’ve finally netted out, with the enormous caveat that Spider-Man has been my favorite non-Nightcrawler superhero since I was 13.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Wonder Woman
- The Lego Batman Movie
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Slamming your knee into the corner of a table
- Iron Fist
3) Iron Spider
Like many fans, I was considered there would be substantially too much Iron Man influence on Homecoming, but in reality the notorious RDJ was used sparingly and appropriately. It’s logical that in an MCU built from the Avengers up that any teenage hero entering the scene would ultimately aspire to membership.
While I technically prefer Spider-Man’s loner status from the Ditko and Lee years, it’s also worth remembering that Peter Parker immediately tries to join the Fantastic Four by immaturely breaking into their base and fighting them (if I had a nickel for every job interview I failed this way).
By the end of Homecoming, the MCU finds the perfect balance for Spidey. He’s out in New York operating on his own terms, but generally friendly and accepted by the Avengers.
4) Flash, King of the Nerds
My favorite take on Spider-Man in the last decade is the animated Spectacular Spider-Man, which frequently takes the essence of classic Spidey characters and reimagines them to fit a new narrative.
Homecoming makes similar efforts, perhaps none more notably than Flash, aka the cool nerd. It’s a surprising twist for those of us familiar with the famous jock bully, but honestly bullies come in all shapes and sizes, and planting him in Peter’s social circles feels more true to the high school experience.
Still weird to call him Ned. I just don’t get that change.
6) Secret Identities
Think about this for a moment: Outside of the Netflix Marvel shows, nobody really has a secret identity in the MCU.
Peter Parker has always been terrified of villains discovering his identity, though, and naturally this discovery is what adds such a layer of tension to Peter and the Vulture’s menacing Uber ride to the school dance.
For me, this raises the question: Is Peter registered under the Sokovia Accords because of Uncle Tony’s magnetic influence? Presumably the answer is yes unless Cool Uncle Tony simply used Spider-Man for his own airport battle needs and otherwise kept him off the radar.
Much like the comics Civil War this status feels absolutely counter to Peter’s needs, and I wonder if we’re due for a reckoning at some point when those registered names get leaked.
7) No One Dies
There are two moments that cemented Spider-Man: Homecoming as a top tier MCU flick for me.
The first is the harrowing adaptation of Amazing Spider-Man #33, with Spider-Man pushing through the terrifying real fear of being buried alive and lifting a collapsed building off his back.
The second is maybe even more important, with Spidey risking his own life to save the Vulture – who just repeatedly tried to kill him – from a raging inferno.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has played fast and loose with villain murder, with Vision slaughtering Ultron, and the Guardians slaying Ronan. It’s oddly refreshing to see a bad guy get his due and get sent to prison!
This also keeps Vulture from winning the 2017 “There Is No Mandarin” award for villain most thoroughly wasted in service of the plot. That honor can stay with The Bride of Nine Spiders, largely because I continue to refuse to believe Ego is gone (although if we are to accept that Ego the Living Planet is no more, then he wins the award no problem).
Our award winners now tentatively look like:
2013: The (Not) Mandarin
2014: Ronan the Accuser
2015: Baron Von Strucker
2017: The Bride of Nine Spiders
8) Uncle Been There Done That
Do we need him? Is it disrespectful not to even mention him?
To me, Uncle Ben’s presence is clear in every step Peter takes. I don’t need another movie wasting time reminding me he’s why Peter does what he does.
9) Come On Villain, Do The Twist
Between the Mandarin, Loki (in Thor 2: The Dark World), and now Vulture, Marvel has pulled off some impressive swerves with their villains.
Vulture in particular pulls off the feat without simultaneously enraging half the fan base (looking at your Mandarin!), and giving Michael Keaton enough scenery to chew on to deliver one of the most charismatic and personalized villains in the MCU.
10) Year of the Spider
Heading in to Homecoming there were serious questions about Spidey’s popularity. I had a colleague tell me “Kids don’t like Spider-Man,” and I almost threw a shoe in his general direction. Nonetheless, it’s an understandable argument. Has the time of Spider-Man passed?
I’d like to believe that between the delight of Spider-Man: Homecoming and the PS4 Spider-Man video game coming later this year, we’re due for a full-on Spider-sance.
What do you think? Did Spider-Man: Homecoming work for you? Do what feels right to you in the comments.
I loved it. However I did notice something while watching this movie. During the last fight scene with the vulture I kinda zoned out. Then I realized that I did the same thing in Wonder Woman during the last fight scene with ares.
It’s not surprising that fight scenes can get boring, even as a male I sometimes feel like “hey get back to the story,” I will even take romance scenes sometimes over fight scenes (sometimes). My wife, daughter, sister, mom, all get bored with them, and I’m not trying to be sexist, but I get that too sometimes.
I realized that the past few years have just really sucked with fight scenes. Don’t get me wrong- daredevil has amazingly choreographed shit in it, but there is something about the mechanics of the scenes that is lacking. I can’t really articulate it, but the raimi Spider-Mans, x-men (even 3) have these fight scenes that have suspense and some type of force that just wasn’t in the Wonder Woman and homecoming movies.
Example: xmen 3 has a scene where u thing magneto is about to kill wolverine and someone, I think Frasier, sneaks up and sticks him with the anti anxiety mutant Zoloft. While this movie might not be as good, and the story there could be ridiculous, to me it still seems better written than “two super people go at it.”
I guess I just feel like these scenes are extended and inserted out of some type of homage to comic book smash em up shit, which is cool, but normally seems quicker and more to the point in books. Also comics tend to have more plot in the fights too. The vulture scene looked awesome but could have been cut down.
Just seriously take a look at all the earlier hero movies u normally mention (xmen, raimi Spider-Man) up to now. These days I feel a begging for the narrative to come back during extended fight scenes. Daredevil is tv and they can bust into fight scenes whenever, there isn’t really a time restriction. Also I am acknowledging that civil war had one of the best battles ever, even looking at it as a fantasy/sci-fi genre, but there were flaws- what is the vision doing during most parts of that battle?
Don’t get me wrong- I still love it all, but they need to weave this shit in better and not make it seem so formulated like a generic final boss. I swear to god I’m gonna be pissed if thanos or darkseid comes across like m. Bison.
I’m surprised you rank Guardians 1 and civil war over Cap 2.
I LOVE winter soldier and it’s close to avengers. I say right now they’re tied and i expect it will overtake avengers as time goes by.
Your two moments are identical to mine. The Amazing Spider-Man #33 scene had me literally struggling to contain myself. It worked so perfectly.
The second point when he saves the Vulture. Tom Holland REALLY sells this scene. You can see the desperation on his face. He genuinely wants to save the Vulture. This was a scene where they could have easily made him hesitate as a joke (MCU puts way to many jokes in otherwise serious moments) or something stupid like that.
I’m happy i read the first 50 issues of Amazing Spider-Man leading up to this movie. It really made me appreciate this film more.
You were able to put what I have been feeling about this movie into words! I have waited so long for this Spider-Man movie. I really tried to keep my expectations in check and it satisfied me in so many ways. I found myself nodding and smiling with each part of your article.
One area my fiancé and I discuss is that marvel tends to have issues with its villains whereas DC, specifically gothom, seems to just feel better in those areas. Both stumble a lot but the DC media feels tighter in the vilian area. That brings me to the Vulture and how satisfying he felt for an MCU movie. His motivations for the most part felt organic.
So, there are some random thoughts that popped up after reading your article. Always love your stuff. Use your guides daily!