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Spider-Man: Homecoming – Should You Be Excited?


Back in February 2015, Spider-Man’s union with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was confirmed. Long-awaited fanboy dreams of a collaboration between Marvel and Sony finally came true. After many rides on the hype-train; including rumours about casting and potential storylines, the MCU Spiderman’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War will be followed by his first solo Marvel film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, arriving July 2017. Whilst the Tom Holland-casted Peter Parker/Spider-Man will be the third incarnation of the web-slinger, many are excited to see Sony take another cinematic shot at the teenage hero in the caring hands of his original home, Marvel. On the other hand, with Spider-Man: Homecoming marking the beginning of the third Spider-Man film series in 15 years, there are many who would instead say “ANOTHER Spider-Man? Meh, not interested” or “But I thought The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was actually pretty good. They don’t need another reboot!” From the perspective of an unfamiliar film fan, Spider-Man as a film property could be argued as worn out with nothing new to offer. There are definitely reasons to be eager for Homecoming’s arrival: not only new elements, but also a different spin on those already existing in the cinematic Spider-Man formula and why changes had to be made.


The Style: Before & What It Could Be

While speckled with some light-hearted moments, the setting for the world of the Amazing Spider-Man series was developed in a way that could springboard from the absence of the then-completed Dark Knight Trilogy, in order to rival Marvel’s fun and exciting universe: make it dark, a bit gritty and realistic. Not to say it wasn’t an interesting change. In the first Amazing Spider-Man, seeing a Spider-Man film look and flow in a more realistic style felt a bit more refreshing after coming off from the bright and cheesy-ish Sam Raimi trilogy. It even presented a unique message saying that even for a colourful; cheeky and down-to-earth hero, they’re still real people with lives that get a bit dark sometimes. Although, it seemed like Sony’s Spider-Man went from one end of the scale to the other. By the middle of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it only just occurred to me that I was actually feeling depressed watching a film that’s meant to be based on an enjoyable, happy superhero. The theme of darkness, including a speech in basically saying “We are all going to die” (yay…), just doesn’t fit with a positive hero like Spider-Man and the world he comes from.

The future, however, for Marvel-Sony Spider-Man certainly seems like a bright one. Earlier this month, Marvel Studios President himself: Kevin Feige, confirmed the Spider-Man: Homecoming title alongside the new logo and the fact that previous MCU characters could appear (Logo seen below on the left).


Joyful-looking tease into the feel of an MCU Spidey film.
Woo. Darkness. Yippee......

Whether it was Sony or Marvel who have the most creative control over Homecoming had been debated, up until recently. Kevin Feige himself clarified that it will be Marvel’s creative flair having full control of the film’s execution as he spoke of details with the Sony partnership:

“Well, I’ve known all those people for a very long time. Amy Pascal, Tom Rothman, who runs Sony now, I’ve known for years. So, it’s been great. They really are supportive in allowing us to make the creative decisions to make [Spider-Man: Homecoming], but they’ve been great partners. So far so good on that movie.”- Kevin Fiege

Even comparing logos above between Homecoming and The Amazing Spider-Man, you can’t help but feel a “Then and now” sort of scenario, where the latter is much more hopeful than the former. The bright original Spider-Man comic font; the messy spray paint surrounding the cute little Spider-Emblem of Homecoming, compared to The Amazing Spider-Man’s darkness, grit and a clawed up Spidey. Homecoming actually looks, well, FUN.

"Hey everyone...". You can't say this isn't awesome. Don't lie.

From what we’ve seen of MCU Spidey so far in Captain America: Civil War and comparing it to the balanced Marvel formula; featuring a combined tone of fun, excitement and grounded realism, it seems like a great style will be born in the form of Homecoming. Sure, at this point, Homecoming’s actual story itself may even have an unhappy ending for all we know. Nevertheless, if the new installment is a reflection of Marvel’s track record of thrills and joyfulness, you may actually come away from looking into the world of a 2010-onwards Spider-Man film without playing “Hello Darkness, my old friend” in your head for 5 hours.


The Story: Making a 2nd Reboot Necessary

Following the mistakes of the final Sam Raimi-directed instalment, Spider-Man 3 (2007), you’d think that Sony would’ve learnt an important lesson for the Marc Webb-directed reboot series: don’t throw in extra villains and plot lines for the sake of it. Three villain plotlines: it creates an unfocused mess of a story. That’s the reason Sony’s Spiderman had to be rebooted in the first place.

The Amazing Spider-Man, being the first installment of the Marc Webb reboot, definitely had its problems (plot holes and lots of lazy writing) but the potential was there. A few entertaining action sequences, a much more entertainingly written Peter Parker and it was actually focused on ONE villain. A few tweaks here and there for the sequel and it could’ve mirrored the acclaim for Spider-Man 2, but then Sony got greedy. The Amazing-Spiderman 2 was launched as an overcrowded franchise builder: three villains once again; underdeveloped stories mixed with unnecessary subplots and leading into next installments that no-one asked for. It simply came across as patronising and disheartening. Good storytelling was sacrificed in order to set up a Sinister Six film and Amazing Spider-Man 3, 4 and even an Aunt May spin-off had been planned before 2 even hit cinemas. The idea was to create a Sony-verse to rival Marvel’s and, of course, it failed. It all once again had to be scrapped. So, if you can’t beat Marvel, join them.

Good riddance to the hall of Sony spin-offs.

Jon Watts, the new director for Homecoming, was definitely a surprising choice due to his short lifespan as a film director. Though, that could be a key reason for his selection. He has only directed two films previously and they have both been very recent: Clown, a 2014 supernatural horror film and Cop Car, a 2015 American Road thriller. Both have been positively received films with powerful, focused stories. His track record is a bit short; yes, but a director would not be selected for a Marvel film if it wasn’t believed that his skills in delivering suspenseful, grounded and well-structured stories could be adapted to Marvel’s more light-hearted tone.

It won't be hard to top Amazing Spidey 2 anyway. I trust him.

Alongside the announcement of the Homecoming title, the solo Marvel Spider-Man film will focus on Peter Parker balancing his life as a high-schooler and Spider-Man, most likely including what the struggles attempting to maintain that balance entails. A full synopsis hasn’t been released as of yet, but compared to films that came before, Jon Watts surely has the capabilities to bringing a much more concentrated and flavourful Spider-Man story arc in a Marvel polish.


The New Web Slinger: Holland’s Take & Casting

Previous Spider-Men, Toby Macguire and Andrew Garfield, were both cast as playing an aged 17-18 high schooler whilst in their mid-to-late 20’s. Both interpretations of the web crawler at some point explored the struggles of maintaining a double life of being Spider-Man and a teenager still in education. However, both of these interpretations were executed and performed in a way as if they were both adults dealing with these problems. It’s as if they were never really facing these issues like a child would. A large reason for that would be, they, of course, weren’t children.

A much-needed unique and fresh take on the Spider-Man character is where 19 year old Tom Holland came into the picture. Whilst at the London premiere for Captain America: Civil War, Holland even emphasised the unique take he wants to make clear of Spider-Man:

“It was very difficult to not obviously copy what Andrew [Garfield] and Tobey [Maguire] had done, because what they did was brilliant. But I think our main difference is trying to make Peter feel like a kid. And in the film, you see a kid reacting to meeting the Avengers for the first time.”- Tom Holland. 

Based on what we've seen in Captain America: Civil War, this Spider-Man is a unique interpretation that Holland delivers flawlessly. Naive; young, witty and down earth. It can be said that as small Spider-Man's role in Civil War was compared to what his main role will be, it's the interpretation of Spider-Man taken from the comics that fans have always been waiting for.

The young face of a franchise reboot. No pressure.

He’s a fresh face, has a decent film experience for his age and has the proven capability to be an incarnation of the teenager Spider-Man in Homecoming due to the fact he is an actual teenager. The idea of seeing such a grounded but colourful interpretation of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, dealing with the balance of being the two specifically as a child will be a wonderfully interesting full feature-take we’ve never seen before.

Robert Downey Jr's even praised Holland's take on the role. 

Even the rest of the cast is shaping up to be great for Homecoming. Marisa Tomei as Aunt May; former Batman himself, Michael Keaton, rumoured as a villain, and Robert Downey Jr confirmed to be a part of the film. Whether Downey Jr will just be appearing as Tony Stark and/or Iron Man is unknown, but his definitive, witty characterisation and humourous portrayal would be a great fit as a mentor figure for the very young and inexperienced version of Peter Parker we’ll get to see.

Verdict

Spider-Man:Homecoming is shaping up to be the modern cinematic Spider-Man adaptation we’ve all been waiting for, with lots to offer for both old fans and new. A hopeful but grounded tone, shaped by Marvel’s stylish flair. Five and a half villains won’t be crammed in as franchise-pillars, due to the fact it will already be part of a franchise. At its helm; we have a director who can actually mould a powerful, focused story whilst being able to co-exist with the world of the Avengers, under Marvel’s faithful creative influence. Comparing to what’s come before; we will be going from the unfittingly dark, uncertain and confusing to the upbeat, exciting and wondrous in the form of Marvel’s heart-warming embrace. Most importantly, Tom Holland’s youthful and dynamic take on Spider-Man that we’ve seen so far is something that I cannot wait to see translated to his first solo MCU film. It is safe to say we should all definitely be ecstatic to see Spider-Man finally come home.

 
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