After a long weekend of waiting I finally got to see Spider-Man Homecoming with friends tonight. I walked in the theater with tempered expectations. Yes, I knew the reviews were good–yes I knew my friends who have seen it loved it. But of course that’s never enough for me–I have to see something with my own eyes before I form opinions about it…and tonight confirmed that policy in my mind and influenced me to write the most biased review I’ve ever written. I say biased because this review will not really be fair to the director, the actors, or people who loved this movie. It’s fair only to me and my opinion.
But of course that’s the only way I review movies.
First and foremost let’s be clear about something from the get-go. I’m a big Spider-man fan. He’s not only my favorite superhero but he’s also the only character in the Marvel universe that I could ever relate to on a personal level. I loved the idea of a homegrown boy from Queens, New York who’s nerdy, misunderstood, and instantly thrust into powers that he doesn’t understand along with the incredible level of responsibility that comes with them. I’ve read a good deal of the comics (my favorite being the Ultimate Spider-man editions), watched all the movies, and I own the Spider-Man ultimate guide which I’ve perused on several occasions ever since I was a teenager. My very first action figure was Spider-man, I would ride my bike to library to read about Spider-man, and Spider-man basically consumed my entire adolescent childhood.
You get the picture.
That being said I’m very picky on how Spider-man and his universe is portrayed which as I’ve said makes me extremely biased.
What I’m trying to say is that I just didn’t like it.
I’ve thought a long time about it and I guess what really irks me is that I’m very selfish with Spider-man. I prefer him as the friendly neighborhood web-slinger who stays in New York and stops small crimes and deals with the villains who enter his personal life and threaten those he loves.
But this movie had that in it didn’t it?
Yes it did. However my biggest ire with this new Spider-man era is his affiliation with the Avengers. I don’t like it. I like him as his own entity along the drama of his personal relationships and his struggle to balance school, his job, and his heroics without interference and mentor-ship from other superheroes, namely Tony Stark. I prefer a Spider-man who evolves past his mistakes and bad choices on his own, working through the pieces of the puzzle with no one else to guide him. I think it’s nice that Stark is serving as a father figure to him and mentoring him but to me that’s just not Spider-Man. Spider-man really is a loner. Traditionally he hasn’t really had anyone to confine in and get advice from. Most of what he’s gone through he’s had to work out himself through introspection, reflection, and by learning through trial and error.
He’s also a self made man. In the comics Peter Parker works on his own to develop his gadgets, persona, and morality. He has no one to rely on or get cool tech from. He kind of just does it on his own and learns from his mistakes without mentoring or interference from other higher powers. The autonomous vigilante Spider-Man is what really attracted me to the character because in my life there were things that I had to face on my own without any guidance–which was something I could relate to in that type of character.
So in this film when you have Peter Parker swinging around in a fully modified suit with over 500 web combination options including taser webs, web grenades, and a rapid fire machine gun web that just didn’t sit right with me. Add that with a costume with supersonic hearing, “Instant-kill mode”, an interrogation setting, and a self aware AI system named Karen whom Spidey confides in and you’ll find me sitting in the theater cringing for a large portion of it. I mean–for crying out loud, the Spider in his chest now turns into a drone and hovers around with a camera identifying targets while the AI guides him on how to handle situations, make decisions, and even how to ask a girl out. I mean–is this Spider-man or Inspector Gadget?
Now look… I get it–At the end Tony invites Peter to permanently join the Avengers and Spider-man turns it down showing that he really does want to “stay on the ground for a while” and stay humble–which I LOVED. But then afterwards, Tony sends him back the suit he made him! So are we back to pimped out Spider-Man or one who’s ready and willing to really learn on his own without the assistance and guidance of gadgets and technology? I guess time will tell…
It’s not just the interference from the Avengers that I don’t like–it’s also the fact that Peter’s best friend Ned Leeds knows his identity from the get-go and helps him along the way. Again I’m just not about that. Spidey never needed sidekicks. He works alone and figures things out alone without super-suits, superheroes, and civilian sidekicks to mentor him, guide him, and pull him out of sticky situations. It kind of changes the character in my mind and being the traditionalist that I am it just doesn’t sit with me.
How about the as just as a film, preconceived notions aside? Well honestly it’s not a bad movie in and of itself. I mean…it feels very much like a teenage soap opera–which yes Peter Parker is obviously a teenager, but I feel like that movie lacks maturity as a whole. A lot of the humor seems desperate, unnecessary, planned, and redundant, and some of the appeals to audience response are fairly contrived. The characters aren’t too memorable–The Vulture portrayed by Michael Keaton is nothing original or spectacular. Just a ho-hum type villain that we’ve seen before and will soon be forgotten. The Shocker, a Spidey villain that is is generally seen as more respectable, is quickly swept aside in whirlwind of action that becomes numbing around the 1:30 mark.
There are some good moments where the true essence of Spider-man springs forth and we see the web-head that we all know and love–definitely some heart warming and genuine twists in the story that bring a smile to the face but it’s hard to applaud too loudly over the campy drama, over-the top characterization, and the director’s shills for approval all set in the background of the teenage millennial scene. The Spider-man of the comics was a teenager yes, but didn’t really identify with the culture of teenage angst; he was set apart from that–different–with his affections set on higher things.
As you can probably tell this is the most biased review I’ve ever given and I’ve explained why. For me it felt like Spider-Man got lost in another Iron-man film and that’s just not for me. Like I said, I’m very selfish with the web-head. I love the web-slinger that’s untainted by outside influences and flashy gizmos and gadgets. I love the man who took the hardest of life lessons, and the morality granted to him by the experience of his mistakes and took on New York by himself without validation or a slap on the wrist. Just him and the world.
Maybe I’m being snobbish. Maybe I’m being a prude. Maybe I’m not seeing the big picture or being mature enough to embrace a new era of change. But I’ll stick to what I know and how I feel.
Because with great power comes great responsibility.
Daily Diatribe Rating: 5.7/10