Spider-Man: Homecoming, Homage and Familiarity
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens against the backdrop of New York City and its iconic skyline. Traffic buzzes on the Brooklyn Bridge, and people flock the streets while the sun reaches its zenith. The colorful atmosphere of the five boroughs give life to the busy city. Meanwhile, a teenager hastily throws his clothes away as he enters a dumpster, and exits a new man.
Seconds later, a figure in red and blue zips past a few buildings before slamming anticlimactically on the ground. It’s quite a miscalculated jump, but a jump nonetheless. This isn’t the Spider-Man we know – the one that always had a damsel in tow, or who always had a plan. No, this is Peter Parker – just Peter Parker. He isn’t quite the “man” in Spider-Man yet.
The imagery is very new for fans of the webslinger, and this opening scene is the first of many that bring proof of a refreshing take on the Spider-Man film franchise given its long history.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is actually the tenth (!) movie starring the titular webslinger since his comic debut in Amazing Fantasy #155 (Aug. 1962). And if Tom Holland‘s stunning reception is any indication, this current iteration of Spider-Man will be staying in cinemas for a long time.
Homecoming perhaps becomes the franchise’s cream of the crop when it bids ado to the entire “origin story” concept. The film instead begins with the budding superhero career of the teenage Peter Parker. And with the Vulture (Michael Keaton) out there to be his first “big” nemesis, Holland’s Spider-Man will indeed have quite a “homecoming” to the exciting landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Spider-Man: Homecoming opens in cinemas on July 6. Watch one of the trailers below to get your Spider Senses tingling. Or you can head below for What’s A Geek!‘s official review.
Spider-Man: Homecoming and Familarity
The film’s stunning reception is perhaps partly due to Sony (and Marvel) finally scrapping an otherwise overused “origin story” formula to build a foundation of future films. This has been a persistent “problem” (if the term is correct) with the Sam Raimi circa Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films of 2002, 2004, and 2007; and which got carried over to the Marc Webb + Andrew Garfield films of 2012 and 2014. Iconic elements such as “being bitten by a radioactive spider,” and “Uncle Ben dying for the nth time” have become mainstays of the previous series. Of course, too much of the same thing can get a bit tiresome – but all of that is in the past.
Homecoming challenges its predecessors with a common element they developed through the years: familiarity. Holland’s Spider-Man also uses this to win the hearts of his viewers, and succeeds. It’s not that making a film with “Uncle Ben dying” is bad, but Homecoming shows there’s much more to Uncle Ben dying than the “actual dying” part. It’s through these little moments that make Homecoming such a remarkable tale.
There are references and allusions to the comics and the previous film series everywhere. As much as some of them feel incidental, Homecoming is able to play around with them so well. They can be cheesy but they work. One might call the film a sandwiched teenage drama with a side of heroism sprinkled with Marvel’s signature brand of interwoven plot references. However, it’s interesting to note that Homecoming may not be simply “a standalone” film, but rather an amalgamation of the entire Spider-Man film franchise. It is through this acknowledgment, that the film cannot be “just” Spider-Man: Homecoming. That makes it such a heavier film – despite its light tone.
This isn’t a film about a grand tale of discovery and heroism. This is about a teenager struggling to find himself in a world where gods live with men. And there’s no world more perfect for Spider-Man than Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
That Thing About Worldbuilding
The previous Raimi and Webb films have of course made a mark in moviegoers beyond the webslinger’s fans. However, there’s just so much of Uncle Bens dying and spiders biting Peter that a viewer can take before actually getting to their plots. The much desired “connection” this worldbuilding aims to do with its viewers can get lost with too much detail. Too much pressure on origin films mean the franchise’s survival may even hinge on its success.
Suffice it to say, both Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man were successful enough to spawn sequels. Unfortunately, it becomes a bummer for fans to always watch origin stories just to “establish” a movie universe. The new Spider-Man film skips this ordeal thanks to a few years’ worth of Marvel films.
Marvel Studios had the idea of their shared universe almost a decade back courtesy of Kevin Feige, and company. With the backing of Marvel and now Disney, the MCU thrives in yearly releases. Not all studios have that luxury, and Sony offers a solution with Homecoming. Spider-Man swings into action against the backdrop of a massive (and already familiar) superhero universe. With a build-up courtesy of Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man successfully comes swinging with his own movie.
It might be unfair to say that Homecoming will become the definitive Spider-Man film for fans. One will always recognize the undeniable appeal of the Raimi and Webb films, even after rewatches. Maguire’s “childhood sweetheart” vibe and Garfield’s charm have become “signatures” of their respective series. They also formed quite a good foundation for Holland to build his own Peter Parker around. These separate Spider-Man movie series have created quite a dose of familiarity that Homecoming has successfully used to its advantage. Despite its charm, Homecoming will never be complete without the Raimi and Webb films in its shadow. This indirect homage to its predecessors is what perhaps make Homecoming appealing to everyone.
Spider-Man: Homecoming does an excellent job providing quite a refreshing new look to the comic book character. This has been quite a challenge, given at least two sets of Peter Parkers in the span of ten films. Nevertheless, the film branches the differences between Marvel’s gigantic movie universe and Sony’s previous Spider-Man films. Its witty banter and hidden references make it a perfect introductory film for new fans, and a refreshing superhero film for fans waiting for Justice League and Avengers: Infinity War.