BEIRUT: “Why not be a friendly neighborhood Spiderman,” a line that Tony Stark utters to the new young charismatic Peter Parker towards the film’s midpoint, almost critiquing where Sony Studios went wrong with their many renditions of the web-slinging superhero.
A Little Backstory…
When Sony released their first Spiderman film in the early 2000’s with Tobey Maguire as the hero with the arachnid logo, fans were in awe. The complexity of the storytelling, the visuals, and the heartfelt character beats all worked together in unity.
The studio then released the sequel two years later, a film which is arguably still the best Spiderman tale to this date. Raising the bar in the narrative by not only giving Spiderman a worthy villain in Doctor Octopus but also complicating his human relationships by unveiling his web of lies in order to protect his secret identity.
Fans rejoiced and were happy with Sony, until, that is, the release of blasphemous Spiderman 3.
Then like the flame of a blown-out candle, the hero disappeared from silver screens.
Almost a decade later, Sony decided to reboot the hero with The Amazing Spiderman, this time making Peter Parker look a little younger than his previous portrayal.
This film polarized fans, and though the chemistry between Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, and his love interest Gwen Stacey, played by Emma Stone, was a joy to watch, the film lacked depth.
All flaws aside, the film made enough money at the box office to garner it a sequel.
Yet in a weird deja vu, Sony repeats the same mistakes it made when the studio produced Spiderman 3, by forcing the hero to go up against multiple villains at once, and to top it off, (spoiler alert) kill off Gwen Stacey.
Both Spiderman 3, and The Amazing Spiderman 2 turned the hero into a mopey, whiney, “emo” teenager with an existential crisis, forgetting that this was Peter Parker and not Clark Kent.
As an answer to the massive fan outcry, an inevitable aftermath, Marvel Studios and the Avengers came and fought to bring Spiderman home, and succeeded.
Marvel, then, teased fans with a sneak peek at their portrayal of Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War only to have them wait for the release of the hero’s first stand-alone film within the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Spiderman: Homecoming, a very meta title, delivers on every level.
Written by a cluster of writers, Homecoming packs a punch and spins a narrative with a tensile strength that is off the charts.
The ingenious aspect of the screenplay is that it refocuses on the fact that Peter Parker is a kid, with kid problems, that are accentuated by superhero problems, and not the other way around.
Popularity, responsibility, and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager take center stage, as Peter struggles with wanting to grow up and be an Avenger all the while forgetting that there may be more important things in life and that a spot on team Avengers has to be earned.
The writers echo the current state of most teens who seem to prioritize popularity and social media fame as more important than actually experiencing life with all of its difficulties.
The surprise in this narrative, however, is Tony Stark.
Stark takes on a father figure for Peter, and by doing so audiences get a new layer into the billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist’s character.
At the film’s midpoint, Peter disobeys a direct order from Stark by taking on the film’s badies, and by doing so risks the lives of many innocent people upon a ferry. And though the sequence places audiences at the edge of their seats, it’s powerful dialogue scene between the two heroes that take the spotlight.
Parker proclaims how he wants to be just like Stark, no different than a son wanting to be like the father he looks up to. Stark responds with a line that not only resonates what a father would say but also adds weight to what Stark is trying to build post the tragic events of Captain America: Civil War.
As punishment, Stark takes the Spiderman suit away from Parker, to which Parker objects by saying he is nothing without the suit. Stark replies, “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.” This is character development at its finest, showing audiences how well thought out the MCU is and how much the writing teams pay attention to how far some characters have come.
This is the driving theme of the entire narrative which leads to Peter Parker’s eventual growth towards the film’s final act.
Accolades do go to the writing team, however, for also creating a villain that is layered and has a cause that many can empathize with.
Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes is a man who is trying to survive and keep his family from suffering financial ruin after the government and Tony Stark basically run him out of business resulting in his vow for revenge.
Making the villain’s motive a natural human emotion, rather than a clichéd need for power, grounds the entirety of the narrative and allows for believability.
The teens surrounding Peter are also quite colorful, and the young actors bounce off each other with such charm, it’s hard to feel detached from anything that occurs within the narrative.
Supporting this rather concrete screenplay is director Jon Watts who is rather new to the scene, but delivers on every level. The film is comprehensible regardless of its rather fast pace, and all narrative beats have visual components.
Michael Giacchino continues to prove himself as a force in the realm of film scores. Having worked with the Walt Disney Company on multiple films as well as television series, Giacchino did the unthinkable last year by composing the most John Williams score to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Now, he brings his orchestral magic to Spiderman by using the original animated series’ theme as inspiration.
This is the Spiderman film fans have been praying for, and it's thanks to Marvel Studios’ brilliant creative team, that this film is now a reality.
A film that does not rely on gimmicks but rather on the heart of its characters is exactly what makes this film a strong new addition into the MCU.
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