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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man – Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming is two movies, both effectively set up by the title.

In its most literal sense, it is a teenage coming of age movie set against the backdrop of a superhero action film. More than any other entry in recent superhero canon, Homecoming is very explicitly a “young adult” movie. It is Peter Parker channeled through John Hughes, the tropes and conventions of the genre as glimpsed through the prism of a teen movie. As such, the “homecoming” of the title is a seismic event in the school calendar.

He ain’t playin’.

In a more metaphorical sense, Homecoming is the story of integrating Peter Parker into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe that began with Iron Man. It is a story that celebrates the joint custody agreed between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, the deal that allows Spider-Man to appear in Captain America: Civil War while allowing for the appearances of several major characters from The Avengers in this feature film.

One of these movies is stronger than the other. About half of Homecoming is a really great Spider-Man-as-John-Hughes teen film, while the other half is a so-so Avengers sequel.

Climbing to new heights?

The Avengers is very much a preoccupation for Homecoming. It is telling that the introductory scenes of Homecoming do not focus on Peter Parker or Spider-Man. Instead, they unfold in the direct aftermath of the climax of The Avengers. The second shot of that opening scene is Avengers Tower itself, shot from the ground up, rusted and damaged in the wake of the Chitauri invasion. The story jumps forward eight years before introducing the audience to Spider-Man through an endearing phone-video recap of the events of Civil War.

To be fair, Spider-Man’s journey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been long and complicated. When the comic book company experienced financial difficulties during the nineties, they were forced to auction off some of their prize properties. The Amazing Spider-Man and Ghost Rider went to Sony, while X-MenDaredevil and Fantastic Four went to Fox. In many ways, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was built on the leftovers, the elements that no other studio really wanted. (It is perhaps appropriate that the Vulture is true antagonist in Homecoming.)

The inside track.

After all, the success Sam Raimi Spider-Man and Bryan Singer X-Men movies predated the establishment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by almost a decade. However, Marvel Studios quickly became a powerful force in the blockbuster marketplace. They were acquired by Disney and went from strength to strength. The dynamic had changed dramatically, to the point that Marvel quickly began hoovering up discarded properties from those earlier deals. (For example, Daredevil and The Punisher are now at home on Netflix.)

By the time that Sony rebooted the Spider-Man franchise for the first time with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was so well established that there was some discussion about including Avengers Tower in the New York skyline of that particular film, which would have been an interesting choice given that it does not appear in the background of any of the Marvel Netflix shows. However, that did not work out. Spider-Man remained out in the cold.

Very selfie-conscious.

So when Sony decided on a third reboot of Spider-Man within seventeen years, there was a conscious effort to reach a joint custody arrangement for the iconic webslinger. Tom Holland would make his debut in the role in Civil War, and in return Tony Stark would make a guest appearance in Homecoming. There would be a sense of continuity between the two properties, even as Sony retained control of Spider-Man as a property and Marvel would use the character in their big blockbuster releases.

However, Homecoming suffers a little bit from its two competing urges. There is nothing wrong with the decision to incorporate Spider-Man into the shared Marvel Universe. After all, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was notable for featuring one of those classic “let’s you and him fight!” misunderstandings between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, a relatively early example of Marvel’s approach to the shared universe. Over the years, Spider-Man has been a hugely important part of Marvel’s publishing line, anchoring books like Marvel Team-Up.

Sign of the times.

At the same time, Spider-Man has spent most of his publication history relatively separate from the big arcs and events of the shared Marvel Universe, tending to interact with other heroes on a one-off or cameo basis while keeping largely to himself. Like the X-Men, Peter Parker has spent most of his life at a remove from the rest of the major Avengers characters, never overlapping in the same way that Ant-Man or Iron Man or Captain America have.

There is a reason for this. Peter Parker is a very different sort of hero than Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. Part of what makes Peter Parker so appealing is his status as an every man, as a working class kid who deals with relatively small-scale problems while dealing with the demands of being a teenager in New York. There is a moment in Homecoming when Peter Parker decides to go out and save the day. “But we have a Spanish quiz!” his friend Ned protests. That is the level at which Peter Parker operates.

Taking it to the bank.

There are great stories to be told that use Peter Parker as part of the larger Marvel Universe. Brian Michael Bendis incorporated Spider-Man into the Avengers as part of his New Avengers run beginning in 2005, more than four decades into the life of either franchise. It was a controversial decision among purists, who long argued that Peter Parker worked best apart from all that. J. Michael Straczynski’s work on The Amazing Spider-Man did something similar, moving Parker into Avengers’ Tower and making him Tony’s mentee.

These are interesting ideas for Peter Parker. Indeed, Homecoming borrows quite a few of them. One of the best gags in Homecoming comes from relatively early in Bendis’ New Avengers run, while the relationship between Peter and Tony clearly owes a debt to Straczynski’s Spider-Man. (As does, arguably, a trip to Washington.) There are even shades of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War to a key scene towards the end of the film. Homecoming owes a lot to twenty-first century Spider-Man comic books.

Holding it all together.

However, there is a tension here. There were very specific reasons why adding Peter Parker to the roster worked in New Avengers or moving him to Avengers Tower made sense in Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man. These were bold new decisions for a character who had been around for over forty years. Marvel had arguably done almost everything but those things by the time they made those efforts. There was something new and exciting about them. They were thrilling precisely because they were so novel and so unusual.

It is difficult to integrate Peter Parker completely into the shared Marvel Universe without losing a lot of what makes him interesting as a character. Late in Homecoming, Tony Stark references Peter’s “Springsteen-y, working-class-hero vibe”, and it is a large part of what makes Peter so interesting. Peter is not a “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.” He struggles to pay his bills on time. He worries about his aunt’s mortgage. He has to work low-wage jobs, and worries about being fired.

Tech genius.

If Peter Parker is friends with Tony Stark, and if Tony Stark understands these problems, then it becomes a lot harder to sustain that tension. After all, Tony has enough money that Peter should never have to work a day in his life, that May should never have to worry about losing the roof over her head. If Tony is even tangentially aware of Peter’s status as a “working class hero”, then that status is undercut. Either Tony helps Peter, in which case the tension is alleviated, or Tony doesn’t help Peter, which makes him seem like a monster.

(Incidentally, this is also a problem with the X-Men. Any attempt to integrate the X-Men into the wider Marvel Universe inevitably brushes up against the issue that Captain America and Tony Stark must be perfectly fine with draconian legislation like the Mutant Registration Act or willing to look the other way at attempted genocide when it is directed at mutants. As much as fans might object, it is arguably for the best that the X-Men remain isolated from the Marvel Cinematic Universe by a wall of contracts.)

Cagey on the details.

This is a tension at the heart of Homecoming, as a result of the desire to emphasise both the tradition Spider-Man set-up and to integrate the character into the shared universe. There is a lot of back-and-forth on this idea across the run of the film. Tony makes it very clear early on that Peter is not on the Avengers team, and Peter faces a tough choice about his relationship to the organisation at the end of the movie. However, it is difficult for Homecoming to be both a coming of age teen movie and a pseudo-sequel to Civil War.

Even beyond that conceptual tension, Homecoming struggles a little bit with its relationship to The Avengers. There are points at which the movie feels over-eager to stress its relationship to the larger Marvel canon. At one point, Spider-Man intervenes in a robbery conducted by crooks wearing cheap masks designed to look like the Avengers, while Spidey laments missing the opportunity to meet Hulk or Thor during the events of Civil War.

A monumental accomplishment?

Without straying into the realm of spoilers, a major plot point in Homecoming hinges on the idea of the Avengers moving house, which seems just a little ridiculous. Happy Hogan, Tony Stark’s bodyguard as played by Jon Favreau has a major role in the film, which almost feels like a nod to Favreau’s role as a grandfather figure to the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe. At one point, he produces a minor surprise from his pocket. “I’ve been carrying this around since 2008,” he explains, tying back to Favreau’s role as midwife to the world in which Spidey finds himself.

This over-reliance on The Avengers carries over into the plot. The Vulture is very clearly positioned as something of a classic Iron Man baddie. Like the villains from the other three Iron Man films, the Vulture is an unscrupulous arms dealer with a flying suit of armour. Although Homecoming works hard to explain why the character is squaring off against Spider-Man, there is a sense that Adrian Toomes was probably at some point in a WhatsApp Group with Obadiah Stane, Justin Hammer and Aldrich Killian. (His introductory scene even mirrors that of Killian in Iron Man III.)

A harsh training regime.

To be fair, there are moments at which Homecoming capitalises on this sense of a shared universe. At its best, these moments are sly jokes and references that capture a sense of how weird it must be to live in a world where the Hulk and Thor exist as a fact of life. The Sokovia Accords can be mentioned casually in conversation with the slavery used to build the Washington Monument. There is an acknowledgement that recovery services are going through something of a boom era. Girls rank their superhero heart throbs.

Indeed, there are moments at which Homecoming is keen to stress exactly where Spidey falls on the superhero hierarchy. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Stark advises his young protege. “But don’t do anything I would do.” Stark urges Spidey to “stay close to the ground.” For his part, the Vulture instructs his men to “stay under the radar.” At its best, Homecoming understands that Spider-Man generally doesn’t compete on the same stage as his superhero colleagues.

Getting schooled.

There is something interesting in the way in which Homecoming presents a working class glimpse of this superhero world. In some ways, what distinguishes Adrian Toomes from villains like Obadiah Stane or Justin Hammer is social class. The opening scenes of Homecoming effective establish a grudge between Toomes and Stark, but it is purely in one direction. Stark is most likely completely unaware of Toomes’ existence.

At one point, Toomes argues that Peter has much more in common with this blue-collar villain than with his upper-crust mentor. “We eats scraps from their table,” Toomes protests to Peter. “The rich and powerful, they don’t care about guys like us.” Toomes is called the Vulture because he employs a flight rig in his crimes, but he is also very clearly presented as a scavenger who has been forced to pick at the bones left by wealthier and more influential individuals.

Down but not out.

It is a very timely idea, and something that provides Toomes with a bit more resonance than he would have had a few years ago. Toomes is presented as a character who is essentially “just scraping by.” His secret villainous layer is effectively a workshop. He seems to genuinely care about his staff, to the point that the obligatory execution of a minion is treated as an unfortunate accident rather than a display of brute force. He still takes calls and texts from his wife while at work, and he claims to be working to support them.

Indeed, there is something oddly endearing about Homecoming‘s emphasis on Spidey’s seemingly working-class adversaries. The previous Spider-Man films have tended to focus on the mad scientists and the industrialists, characters like Norman Osborn or Otto Octavius or Curt Connors. There is something to be said for the way in which Homecoming decides that what sets Spider-Man apart from his fellow superheroes is his working class bad guys. (Even the small supporting villains in Homecoming tend to have histories as working stiffs in the comics.)

They call him “Hero-Buster” Keaton.

Of course, the reality seems a little more nuanced than simple class anxiety. Late in the film, the audience gets a chance to see how Toomes lives. While he might affect the appearance of a poor working class stiff and might genuinely harbour class resentment, his home is lavish and luxurious. In some ways, Homecoming hints at the ways in which major Hollywood films are exploring contemporary American politics. Toomes seems like a portrait of a Trump voter, the kind of person who harbours a lot of resentment but who is not quite as working class as he appears.

There is something very clever in the casting of Michael Keaton in the role. As with the presence of Robert Downey Junior, it is a statement of pedigree. Once again, Keaton is playing the role of a superheroic birdman, evoking both Batman and Birdman in a wry self-aware piece of production. However, Keaton works best in the smaller moments. Toomes is most effective in two scenes late in the film that recall the use of Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man. Keaton oozes menace, even when only lit by a green traffic light.

Wings and a prayer.

Homecoming works best when it focuses on the conventional Spider-Man story beats. The movie understands that audiences have already witnessed two separate Spider-Man origins over the course of the past two decades, and so do not need to see those familiar beats repeated. There is no Uncle Ben on screen. There is no radioactive spider, either. Asked about his origin, Peter is very matter-of-fact. “The spider’s dead,” he states. Homecoming wants to go about the business of being a Spider-Man movie, which is refreshing in its own way.

There is clearly a lot of affection in Homecoming for the source material. The film references any number of classic and iconic Spider-Man moments. In particular, original artist Steve Ditko is a massive influence on the look and feel of the film. One shot lovingly recreates Ditko’s iconic “half-Spidey, half-Peter” compositions, while Toomes’ costume even includes the delightful fluffy white mane. The climax of the film opens with an action beat that is lifted from one of the most memorable (and iconic) early Spider-Man stories.

“Yes, my mane man.”

Many of the better Marvel movies of the past few years have understood that the superhero genre encourages hybridisation, that it is not sustainable to simply hit the same beats over and over again. Guardians of the Galaxy was notable for blending superheroics with space opera. Captain America: The Winter Soldier blended the genre with seventies political thrillers. Logan threw a dash of neo-western into the mix.

Homecoming understands that Spider-Man is essentially a coming-of-age story, and so pitches itself as a teen film. The movie is endearingly explicit about its references. At one point, Spider-Man is juxtaposed frantically running through backyards with a similar shot from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The eponymous homecoming is staged as a nostalgic eighties dance, a touch which makes little sense as anything but a reference to movies like The Breakfast Club.

A Stark warning.

Homecoming understands the pressures and anxieties of being a teenager. At its best, the film taps into those worries very well, as Peter Parker has to balance his superheroism with his more mundane everyday existence. It is a teenage fantasy, but many superhero stories are. Most teenagers have felt that way, imagined what it would be like to be a hero while suffering through the social stigmas of high school existence. In these moments, Homecoming captures the spirit of Spider-Man very well.

Of note is the diversity of the cast. The bulk of the teen supporting cast in Homecoming are not white, coming a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. It is very refreshing in a genre that has tended be dominated by white male characters. In fact, Homecoming goes out of its way to make sure that its politics are correct. When one member of the academic team insists on trying to fit some protests into their time in Washington, her teacher is supportive. “Protesting is patriotism.” At another point, the film acknowledges that the Washington Monument was built by slaves.

Bird of prey.

That said, the diversity of the supporting cast is slightly frustrating, given that the company insisted on giving Peter Parker his third cinematic incarnation in so many years. The character of Miles Morales, the black and hispanic Spider-Man created by Brian Michael Bendis for Ultimate Spider-Man, has never been adapted into live action before. It seems like a missed opportunity to do something genuinely novel and exciting with the core premise. A black and hispanic Spider-Man would be a truly progressive feature film.

Homecoming seems to be acutely aware of this, the production making several overt nods to the existence of Miles Morales as a concept. Jacob Batalon plays the character of Ned Leeds in Homecoming, Peter’s put-upon best friend who becomes party to his secret. (There is nary a Stacey nor an Osborn in sight.) However, the character is very clearly inspired by Miles Morales’ best friend Ganke. Similarly, Donald Glover, the actor who inspired Bendis to write Miles, has a reasonably sized supporting role. Homecoming is very aware of Miles Morales.

Keeping it all afloat.

Still, there is an endearing optimism to the film, a creative decision that distinguishes it from the relative darkness and cynicism of The Amazing Spider-Man. There are repeated references to “the neighbourhood”, with various characters taking pride in the small community which Spider-Man polices. Even a petty thug seems horrified by what Toomes is trying to do. “I don’t want those guns in my neighbourhood,” he explains to Spider-Man, while offering him some advice on intimidating witnesses.

That said, there are some areas in which Homecoming does feel a little thwarted. Owing the decentralisation of the Marvel Universe in the wake of The Avengers, the move away from New York and Manhattan in particular, a lot of Homecoming unfolds in Queens and Brooklyn. This plays into the movie’s working class aesthetic, but it also plays against some of the more basic expectations of a Spider-Man film.

Jumping on in.

Spider-Man is a character who is very specifically designed for Manhattan. His powers and skill sets are tied to that idea of the modern American city in a way that differs from other heroes like Iron Man or Superman. The most iconic image of Spider-Man is that of the teenager swinging between skyscrapers down the glass canyons of the island, gathering momentum and throwing himself through the air while leaping between buildings. Spider-Man simply does not work as well outside of that specific urban environment.

Homecoming repeatedly and explicitly acknowledges this issue. Early on, Spidey miscalculates the length of webbing needed to start a good swing, and so lands face-down on a concrete roof. At another point, in a very clever action sequence that seems to have been inspired by the classic When Cometh… the Commuter!, Spidey has to deal with the difficulty of tracking down a bunch of criminals through the suburbs without the structures necessary to support swinging and webbing.

Ceiling the deal.

However, there is something just a little awkward about back-to-basics Spider-Man movie that doesn’t make time for swinging and bounding. Similarly, the climax of the movie feels almost too large for a Spider-Man movie, too epic in scope. While the scale is definitely smaller than The Avengers, it is an ending that would not feel out of place in an Iron Man film. It elevates the character a little bit beyond his level.

Still, Homecoming is charming when it plays to its strengths and treats its lead as “a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.” It just struggles a bit to figure out exactly how big that neighbourhood should be.

25 Responses

  1. “Part of what makes Peter Parker so appealing is his status as an every man, as a working class kid who deals with relatively small-scale problems while dealing with the demands of being a teenager in New York.”

    This would be the same Peter Parker, award winning photojournalist who is so incredibly brilliant he can design from nothing a super strong adhesive in his bedroom and ends up marrying a super model? I’d argue that superpowers aside he’s at least as distant from normal life as a small town Kansas kid turned newshound who married his co-worker. 😉

    I don’t know… I like Spider-Man (especially the Sam Rami version) but his supposed every man, working classness always struck me as a little forced. Obviously he isn’t a billionaire playboy but at the same time he’s so gifted in so many areas that the Marvel Universe has to bend over backwards to justify keeping him poor and relatable and unpopular. This was especially absurd in the second reboot series where Parker had Andrew Garfield’s male-model class good looks.

    Of course I suppose that’s why he IS a teenager, where the options are far fewer and bullies will beat you up no matter how brainy you are.

    (He does make a fascinating contrast with, for instance, Buffy Summers. In her show she consistently declined in social class, going from upper middle class younger teen – before the series started – to the child of a single parent middle class home – the first four seasons or so – to a college dropout forced to take care of her younger sister – to working in Not!McDonalds.)

    • Ha. That’s why I always preferred organic web shooters, although that’s not a popular opinion with fans. If Peter can design web fluid, he should be a millionaire. (I know Ditko and Lee plotted a story that explained why he wouldn’t be a millionaire, but… c’mon.) And I can excuse the supermodel girlfriend as a late addition, and as the type of out-of-control wish fulfilment that happens when properties like this run too long. But I do like the idea of Parker as a kid who deals with small-scale problems and small-scale superheroics.

      But good point on Buffy.

      • I suppose that’s always been a strain with Peter Parker; how much of an everyman can you be if you are a teen genius and how small scale are your superheroics if you are many times stronger and faster than a normal human being? I remember we had a discussion about this with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ where I was annoyed that Peter Parker had been dumbed down in favour of Gwen Stacey because for me that brilliance is every bit as much of who he is as his mundane background. Then again the Garfield films were all over the map over how smart and how much of a loser Peter Parker is meant to be – as I’ve said before Garfield is simply too conventionally good looking for the role.

        Regarding Buffy I’ve going back over her series and it’s absolutely fascinating how much more timely some of her elements are now than when the show aired. Someone who isn’t a stock ‘working class hero’ but who slips through the middle class cracks is a striking character arc and not one I’ve really seen dealt with elsewhere.

      • That’s a great read on Buffy, by the way.

  2. I have to agree with your stance on the X-Men being best served separate from the Marvel Universe. It’d be mighty bizarre to have the often ostracized mutants inhabit the same universe where freakish, monstrous Avengers like Hulk are lionized as heroes. But what of the Fantastic Four? I feel that the first family deserves to be in the MCU more than even Spidey.

    They did, after all, start the Marvel universe; they’re the primordial Marvel characters(there’s a reason why they were christened ”the first family”) X-Men, Hulk, Spider-Man, etc.

    Not having FF in the MCU just feels…odd. The X-Men and even Spider-Man work well on their own but the FF always seemed like the centerpiece of the Marvel comics universe so in my mind the same should hold for the Marvel cinematic universe! I’m rather curious to get your perspective on this.

    • I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind the Fantastic Four being in the MCU, but I’m not too shaken up about it. I think we’d need a workable take on the Fantastic Four first. (The Incredibles remains perhaps the best Fantastic Four adaptation, while also being the best Watchmen interpretation. Which is no small achievement.) Personally, I’d kinda like a period-specific Fantastic Four movie like X-Men: First Class.

      • A 60’s Fantastic Four does sound cool. Don’t think another FF will happen in a LOOONNG time though…

      • Yeah. Unless Fox find a way to fold them into the X-Men.

        There’ll be a “use ’em or lose ’em” pressure bearing down on Fox in the next five or so years, right?

  3. I get annoyed when filmmakers feel the need to wind the clock back to High School when rebooting. Peter Parker in the original Lee/Ditko run was only in High School for about 28 issues; the vast majority of the character’s 50+ year existence he’s been either in-or-out of college.

    I understand the commercial reasons for going with teenage spidey since the character is easily the most marketable to children and his merchandising sales sell through the roof so it makes sense to backtrack to his roots and make him a kid again but it just feels like a regression, instead of the progression of the inherently forward nature of the character.

    I am of the mindset that Peter is more interesting as an adult than he is a teenager and that may come as a bit contrarian to many who argues the character is most interesting as a teen instead of an adult but I’ve always found Peter’s origin to be a tad bit redolent of puberty.

    The bit symbolizes his metaphorical ascendancy to manhood, it’s signals the next stage of his life so to have yet another reboot that goes back to High School feels redundant. This film isn’t even the first film to have Peter in High School for the entirety of the film(The first Amazing movie was the first). Yeah, I get there’s a precedent with the Ultimate series which spent a lengthy amount of time in the High School era but that universe was always a complimentary universe to the 616 comics Spider-Man. Never a defining one.

    I dunno, I just don’t get the love for High School Spider-Man. They just feel like keeping the character in stasis, almost like the Simpsons where Bart and Lisa will never graduate elementary school.

    • Correction: The *bite*

    • I think it’s nostalgia. And self-perpetuating, ironically.

      Most fans associate their earliest memories of Spider-Man to an interpretation where he was in high school, because the people producing that version of Spider-Man associate their own earliest memories of Spider-Man to an interpretation where he was in high school. And so on. I suspect that’s why you see a lot of reversion in adaptations, which then ironically filters back into the source material as well.

  4. Hey you spoiled me the Vulture’s character twist man( about his lavish home)…..You should’ve put some spoiler warning first so that I can skip it.

    • What exactly did I spoil? Lots of people have nice houses.

      I go out of my way not to reveal any information that would suggest the spoiler that you are hinting at, and making that leap would require you to have actually seen the movie.

  5. Having actually seen the film I’d probably have call a charming mess, with the charm overcoming the mess portion. Toomes is a lot of fun, thanks almost entirely to Michael Keaton.

    That said there are some very odd choices in this film. For one thing Peter Parker doesn’t actually seem all that working class here. He goes to a school so academically elite even the jock (or whatever Flash is meant to be in this movie) is a science nerd that has a large modern library filled with computers and gym and seems fully staffed by capable and dedicated teachers. Aunt May doesn’t seem desperately poor and while I don’t recall her job being mentioned I never got the sense of an actually struggling household. Obviously this Peter Parker is still far from the 1% but Tobey Maguire’s version was genuinely poor and even Andrew Garfield’s Peter (who we never saw at his day job) was raised by a working stiff uncle. If the film is going to have two different characters harp on about the hero being working class they should have played it better.

    The film also had some very strange tonal inconsistencies. Sometimes Flash is the cool but mean kid at the party and sometimes he’s a loud moron everyone openly shows contempt for. Peter is apparently a ‘loser’ but his fellow students beg him to join them on their academic team and one basically stalks him (which reminds me that I groaned when this film rehashed one of my least favourite ‘winks’ from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. I could practically feel the screenwriters patting themselves on the back after that reveal.)

    • Well I’m really lucky to graduated in a “Science High School” so I can say I appreciated what they’ve done to Peter and especially Flash. I met bullies like Flash, the rich and strongly presence ones which you cant outsmart with cause they’re smart themselves. And for your problems which Peter doesnt seem like a outcast, well I also met people like him which is too weird, smart and not necessarily sociable.

      • The problem I have though is as I’ve said the film is all over the place with how Peter and Flash are presented. Sometimes Peter is wildly unpopular and Flash cool (like at Liz’s party) but other times Flash is a pompous buffoon everyone mocks and Peter seems like his only block to being popular is being ‘aloof’ due to his secret life (and even then it is easy to read Michelle’s interest in him as due to his enigmatic nature.)

        I can sort of see how the film was trying to modernise the cast in recognition that nerd culture is mainstream but if you strip Flash of his jockness and still leave him noticeably dumber than Peter (in a school where smarts are idolised and the popular girl swoons over Peter because of his brains) then you are really just left with a loud, relatively stupid annoying jerk who is everyone’s last choice to drag around with them.

        It’s like Tony’s ludicrous comment about Peter’s “Springsteen-ey” vibe when Peter is going to a specialised and obviously very good “Science High School” and has been headhunted by Stark Industries (obviously we know exactly why Tony is interested in him but no one else acts like Peter getting the attention of major companies is astonishing.) The film wants to have a certain dynamic but some of its own choices undercut that.

    • Yeah, myself and Andrew talk about that class stuff a great deal on the podcast.

  6. I loved this movie! Not as good as Spider Man 2, but second best in my opinion. They both work for the same reason for me, there’s sort of a human story in here where Peter has to balance being Spider Man while also dealing with every day life, in this case high school. Obviously it’s not AS well developed as SM2, in fact there’s way lower stakes and more of an emphasis on comedy, but it’s still there to some extent. Even Vulture is incredibly sympathetic here, almost a spiritual successor to Doc Ock in SM2. Guess if I had two problems is that Liz Allan isn’t that interesting and the action isn’t QUITE as good as the other movies.

  7. Do you think this one is better or worse than all the other reboots?

  8. Very good review. Two grammar/spelling nits:

    “began hovering up discarded properties” s/b “hoovering”. Hoover was a vacuum cleaner company in the US. I’m not sure whether this meaning is well known in the UK, but “hovering” doesn’t make sense in this context.

    “just scrapping by” s/b “just scraping by”

    And another correction: “Spider-Man Team-Up” s/b “Marvel Team-Up”. Spider-Man was featured in nearly every issue of MTU, but his name wasn’t part of the title.

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