Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spider-man Homecoming (2017)


In honor of the 3 Spider-man movie versions in over 15 years, here are my 3 character related observations of the newest one Spider-man Homecoming.

As a true teenager at the time of his hiring and with adjustments by the filmmakers Tom Holland is on the way to becoming the best Spider-man out of all 3 versions. He is my favorite part of the movie.

Peter Parker’s school, the Midtown School of Science and Technology, has a nice Generation Z update. It also exudes an inclusive atmosphere which is not entirely a good thing since I am no longer feeling any tension. There is such a thing as too good to be true.

Tony Stark played by Robert Downey, Jr. and the youngest Aunt May to date, Marisa Tomei are my least favorite people in the story.  Has Uncle Ben been written off entirely?

Tom Holland and the Suit

I was of two minds on the casting of Tom Holland when he first appeared in Captain America Civil War, which is to say I liked how he looked and sounded but I hated the Spider-man eyes. Watching a YouTuber named captainmidnight with his video How Marvel Fixed a Franchise - Spider-Man: Homecoming changed my mind.

Captainmidnight posits that previous directors of Spider-man in Raimi and Webb have always considered the eyes – technically the hood – a problem. Likewise if the character can’t emote then talking, as Spider-man would have been doing in the comics, is also a problem.

Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield had an unsafe tendency to remove the hood because a scene required a dramatic boost and the actor’s face had to be in full or partial view. And that is bad as far as secret identities go and unbelievable now in an age of Smartphones.


Although still not having a practical reason for a hood to have moving eyes – syncing with how Peter feels – the AI does give it an excuse to move. The AI, later named Karen (Jennifer Connelly) also solves Spider-man’s classic talkativeness.

In Civil War Peter Parker stuttering while introducing himself to Tony Stark caught my ear. Boyish pitch, nervous tone when he first met an Avenger, I was impressed that Tom brought a unique flavor to the table. 

He didn’t disappoint in Spider-man Homecoming; Peter was talking like crazy. He’s a 15 year old kid who is nervous, excited, in awe, or even infatuated; I know because says it out loud. Without a doubt this Spider-man is the most fun to watch and to hear.

Andrew tried his hand – or mouth – at it but ended up looking mean spirited. Karen works well with the emotive eyes so Tom was able pull it off in flying colors.

School life at Midtown

Midtown School of Science and Technology was never focused in a big way; mostly it was just the academic decathlon team. 

In the few scenes that it did show up the production design was clearly on point making this about Generation Z.

Corridors are filled with age appropriate students, drones are flying around with many still held by students watching and the Homecoming Dance came in a form of a video played in the hallways like a public address system.

Compared to other versions it’s not hard to see myself being part of the school especially since I a Filipino myself. The students are multiracial. Ned Leeds, Peter’s best friend, is played by Jacob Batalon, a Filipino. Liz (Laura Harrier) the love interest is colored. 


The downside is that there seems to be an absence of tension racial or any other. Actually there isn’t a divide I can see. Where are the jocks, the weirdos, the cheerleaders, and every other subgroup so popular in an American movie?

Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) is no longer the physically imposing bully of classical lore but now more a loudmouth rival. Filmmaker’s reasoned they did it so that they can move on and play with newer things than bully-beats-nerd story line. Flash was Peter’s friend in the comics in the later years but movies haven’t explored that.

All of that is good and understandable but question is, what is Peter Parker without those classical tensions? 

His teachers know his caliber more so because Peter is on a competitive team that represents the school. That’s belonging and purpose. Ned isn’t the rich kid Harry Osborne (James Franco) was so they’re more in sync as friends can be. And Aunt May is young, healthy, and hot.

Maybe Peter shouldn’t even have a problem with Liz since she as Captain of the team treats him as the star player. Unrequited love would have been a more natural consequence than drooling from afar.

The classical route which Tobey Maguire’s Spider-man followed was a lonely Peter Parker who could only look at Mary Jane from afar, always feeling that he couldn’t match up with Flash Thompson. 

So what does he do when he got the power, he uses it for profit, to make himself capable of competing for the girl. Uncle Ben dies and then Peter takes up the calling. His baser instincts as a teenager is neutralized by tragedy.

Who is Peter Parker supposed to be in Spider-man Homecoming? Its not getting to be a pretty picture. He's a boy with everything right in his life that he got bored and wants to be a superhero full time with the Avengers.

Being bored because of having more power than the average student or adult is a probable leap. What the character wants all throughout the story is inconsistent though. Being infatuated with Liz, worried that Aunt May will find out, and wanting to join in with the Avengers are all in very different directions.

A never changing Tony Stark and a hot Aunt May

Which leads me to Tony Stark and Aunt May, my least favorite people of the movie. Filmmaker’s have talked about moving on from the origin stories which include Uncle Ben’s death but instead they made a movie about Peter Parker’s formative influences, that it might as well be an origin story.

Peter can do what he wants. He's a boy. He makes mistakes and recovers from it and tries again. The point is who is guiding him?


Tony Stark notably said two things:

Stay close to the ground...Can’t you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man?

Think about it, would a 15 year old boy really listen from the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist those exact words and be patient and humble? Maybe. 

That is if Tony Stark didn’t act like royalty and leave Peter to the family driver, which he did. How did he expect the 15 year old to act?

Where is Uncle Ben?  There’s not even a picture in the apartment. Tony Stark acts like he's replacing Uncle Ben which is so wrong.

In Civil War there’s an allusion to a tragedy, perhaps personal, about bad things happening if Peter didn’t use his powers right. In Homecoming, Peter was talking about a tragedy that feels almost exclusively Aunt May’s. So it's not clear if there’s an Uncle Ben in MCU. 

If there was an Uncle Ben and assuming he died the classical way then Tony Stark wouldn’t have to say the lines. Peter would have been happy helping anybody regardless if it’s an old lady asking for directions or a mission with the Avengers, because he had a big scar. Uncle Ben was a guide even in death.

And besides Peter going off against the Vulture is not biting off more than he can chew, its Tony being a bad mentor. 

Karen is always recording so the best Tony could have said is, ‘I have seen what you have seen, let’s do this together,’ or ‘I have all the evidence I need from you, ball is now in my court and I’ll update you’.

The troubles of Homecoming was not Peter but Tony Stark being dismissive. At least Batman had the right idea keeping a ward close by, if you can get past the child soldiers argument.

Can Aunt May do any better? The filmmaker’s have reasoned out that they cast a 52 year old Marisa Tomei, the youngest Aunt May, to be more a big sister. Hearing those words, I think they aimed too low. 

Marisa Tomei had the worst introductory shot I can think of for an aunt, an authority figure in Peter's life.

It was the scene when Ned discovered Peter Parker was Spider-man. Aunt May was trying on a new recipe and it failed. She came on to the room with some smoke, and beautifully fixes her hair. With all these references to May Parker’s beauty – Tony Stark flirting and Mr. Delmar referring to the hot aunt – how can I take her seriously? Sometimes I doubt was even in the apartment for Peter.

Isn’t there a cool auntie vibe that can’t be too overly sisterly? A friend can date the friend’s sister but everyone follows the aunt. I know the characters are supposed to be 15 years old but give clear distinctions; don’t make me guess because I'm guessing the wrong way.

Marisa Tomei can pass for a 35 year old in certain angles. Did make-up even bother to make her older or did they make her look younger?

I googled another pretty face from the 80s, Diane Lane who plays Martha Kent. Marisa is just 1 month older than her. Diane looks properly aged – and fabulous – standing opposite to Henry Cavil who plays her son. I’m not feeling the same with Marisa and Tom.

Tom is actually a teenager by the time he was hired but unfortunately he doesn’t have the boyish features of Toby. Physical training has matured him. That and Peter’s tendency (Ned’s too it seems) to call and refer to Aunt May by her first name I did get confused.

Did Marvel tweak this relationship where they shouldn’t? Is it still Aunt May or just May?

Now that we're at it because it is often highlighted, what would an attention grabbing Aunt May be like? Would she still be single? Would Peter be able to live life without beating catcallers and overly aggressive suitors to a pulp? I ask because who May Parker is adds to Peter's life.

She’s healthier and able to work, and that’s a load off from Peter who can focus on school 100 percent. Gee, Peter’s got an easy life in this movie, maybe that’s why he dreams of being an Avenger. 

A healthy and young Aunt May makes sense if she finds out who Spider-man which the filmmakers did go for but unfortunately that has been relegated as a twist - if you can call it that - at the very last few seconds of the movie. For her to truly be a big sister she has to share in Peter’s world and not just be someone taken care of.

Uncle Ben shared in Peter’s life as Spider-man by being a reminder that his death should no longer happen to anyone else. It’s time that Aunt May take part as well, be better guide than Tony Stark ever would.

Other Matters - the Defenders and Continuity

Can’t you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man?

When Tony Stark said that I did think of the neighborhood, where are the heroes of Netflix? I don’t know where Queens is compared to where the Defenders are. Shouldn’t Tony be worried of bad influences? There are four other superheroes running the streets of New York after all and none of them Tony recruited for Civil War.

Was Tony able to find only Spider-man or does he know all four Defenders?


Continuity is truly a bitch beyond the comic books.


I like Tom Holland being Spider-man. I like how the filmmakers have brought the character in full bloom even with shortcomings such as being an Iron Man Jr. as captainmidnight has mentioned.

Peter Parker’s a genius but should he be able to tailor a good costume made from spandex? At least this movie has a plausible answer.

What I am not in favor is that Spider-man Homecoming made Peter’s life so easy. His has a high tech suit, maybe back-up, he has sponsors, a star in the academic decathlon team, and Aunt May is healthy. Moving on from Ben Parker’s death doesn’t mean he should be forgotten or at worse written off.

What's keeping the boy grounded?

Spider-man became popular because he’s the first teenage superhero that’s not a sidekick like a Bucky or a Robin

With great power there must also come great responsibility – is a warning to any teenager that sees superheroes as having it too easy. Power is not an excuse to do anything you want.

At least now that the intros for the new generation of Spider-man characters are over; Aunt May knowing what Peter is actually doing; and a possible Sinister Six in the offing – the story can hopefully move on and get a rougher edge.

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