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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) - MCU Retro Review

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: Jon Watts
WRITTEN BY: Jon Watts, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daly, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers.
STARRING: Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Michael Keaton (Adrian Toomes/Vulture), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Zendaya (Michelle), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Laura Harrier (Liz), Bokeem Woodbine (Herman Schultz/Shocker #2), Michael Chernus (Phineas Mason/The Tinkerer), Tony Revolori (Flash Thompson), Donald Glover (Aaron Davis), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Jon Favreau (Hogan), 
STORY: The young hero Spider-Man/Peter Parker, fresh off an adventure to help Iron Man/Tony Stark take on Captain America is left to be the friendly neighborhood hero as he awaits whatever else Mr. Stark has in store. Anxious to prove himself, he dives suit first into breaking up a dangerous crime ring involving alien hardware, leading him to face the villain, Vulture. In trying to be a hero he also juggles all the other responsibilities of being a teen, including homework, friendships and first loves. 

After experiencing a great first two years at the movies, Spider-Man wasn’t spinning the same golden webs from 2007-2014. Sony seemed to struggle with a direction to take the most iconic Marvel character and seemed at a bit of a standstill. Enter Marvel Studios, who was able to work their magic with Sony and find a way to work together to do exactly what needed to be done: Bring Spider-Man home.

We got a taste of this new and improved Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, and it immediately became clear this was the Spider-Man we have been needing all this time. Funny, sweet, bright-eyed and anxious to prove himself, he stole the show in a matter of minutes from the largest Marvel roster to date. Now with his own movie, he was given the chance to flourish for over two hours, and thanks to the movie’s firm roots in the high school setting and focus on Peter Parker as a kid trying to be the hero, HOMECOMING makes up for years of sub-par web-slinging with the best outing yet.

At its core, this is a movie about a young man trying to find a place in this big, growing world of superheroes that he has unexpectedly found himself apart of. At his core, that’s exactly who the best version of Peter Parker is. He’s just a dork who wants to build a Lego Death Star with his best bud and ogle girls but now has immense superpowers. This movie, like the character, will hold up for so long because that will always be what makes Parker such a relatable, endearing character. Holland is tremendous in the part and is the quirky, witty, lovestruck, nerdy Parker sprung from the pages and onto the screen. Sorry, Tobey and Andrew. 

Not only does this movie nail Parker, but it also gets Spidey down pat. Parker (and Holland himself) loves being this web-slinging character so much, as we all would. He’s a kid who gets so excited to leave school, race behind the dumpster and change into his Spidey gear and save the day. We’ve had montages of Spider-Man in action before, but until this movie I can’t recall them being as infectiously fun to watch as watching Peter thwart a bike thief or show off in front of a crowd - all to "Blitzkrieg Bop." There’s even a tinge teen awkwardness there when he gets yelled at on all sides after stopping a guy from breaking into his own car. This movie just gets what it would be like to be a teen with superpowers, something the previous movies barely did.

Giving Peter a worthwhile challenge is two characters on two ends of the spectrum – Adrian Toomes/The Vulture and Tony Stark/Iron Man. The former is the classic baddie, one played excellently by Michael Keaton as a man who exemplifies the modern man’s struggle to provide for his family in a world that is leaving many behind. He may have some underutilized characters alongside him (seriously, Woodbine's Shocker should have had more than five lines), but he alone is one the MCU's best villains, embracing the pure, driven, relentless darkness of Toomes. Then there’s Stark, who takes in the father/mentor role and just wants Peter to be a better, more well-rounded version of himself. As a result, Peter has both physical and moral challenges to deal with, and his journey is about learning to deal with both to become a real hero. 

I would also feel remiss if I did not throw a shout out to the bevy of amazing supporting players in this movie, all of whom make up one of the best non-superpowered casts in the series. You know what? F**k it. They're the best non-superpowered supporting cast. They are all so incredibly funny and worthy of more screen time, including Jacob Batalon's Ned, Zendaya's Michelle, and all the way to Martin Starr's Mr. Harrington and Hannibal Buress' Coach Wilson. The eccentric details of the high school are so fleshed out that the place comes alive and makes the movie both one of the funniest Marvel movies and one of the funniest high school movies. 

Look, I love this movie, and it’s a bold claim today it’s the best movie featuring that character, especially with SPIDER-MAN 2 in the mix. But the reason why I feel I can make the claim is that this movie brings out so much more of what makes Peter Parker such an iconic character than past movies have. He has the genius and wit of Tony Stark, but with the beating heart of Steve Rogers. In this movie he is in his most relatable form – a kid just trying to be the hero – and one we all can’t get enough of, and may even see ourselves in. What fleshes this out is the high school setting, which makes the movie feel like a John Hughes movie with a $175 million budget. Everything is here, from the awkwardness, the comradery and the attempts at love, all given a hilarious spin. This is the perfect Spider-Man movie and one that lives up to everything we love about Marvel’s most popular character. 

READ THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW!

The movie starts off by focusing on the villain, Adrian Toomes, and we see him and his crew pre-criminal days salvaging the destruction site of the Battle of New York, the ruins of Stark Tower above them. This is the first time we've seen a recall to THE AVENGERS in the MCU and it's pretty interesting to see this other side of the aftermath.

Next, we get a quirky little video diary Peter had been taking of his trip across Europe before he gets involved with the events of CIVIL WAR, showing just how goofy and so much like a kid he really is.

After we get a taste of Peter's high school life, he gleefully heads into superhero mode, kicking off a funny montage of hero moments done to The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." He even gets a churro for his good deeds! The end of Peter's day finds him confronting some bank robbers with Avengers masks, marking the first point in the movie where we see the always quippy Spidey taking on some actual bad guys, ones that have some pretty deadly alien tech.

During a gym class the kids have to watch a terribel educational video, one hosted by none other than Captain America.

The next time we see the hero suited up is when he gets taken away from the house party to stop a weapons deal in the process, and he ends up trailing after the bad guys, experiencing some setbacks in the way that only a teen superhero would find himself in. We also get an introduction to Shocker, or at least the first incarnation of him.

Toomes in his Vulture costume intervenes and takes Peter into the sky, dropping him from way up high. After falling into the river, Peter is saved by the one and only Iron Man, resulting in him getting a lecture from Tony Stark...via phone call.

Peter sneaks out of his hotel room to go and thwart a Vulture attack, only to struggle with how his suit's features work. He then gets locked in a secret facility, where he passes the time playing around with web features. 

In the movie's third-biggest set piece, Spidey has to become a true hero and save his friends from a falling elevator. This involves him lunging over a flying helicopter, utilizing his Spider-Wings in awesome fashion!

Peter gets detention, prompting the second Captain America educational video.

After stopping a weapons deal Spider-Man fights Vulture in a battle that finds the Staten Island Ferry getting split in half. Though Peter tries to save the day he was only 98% successful, and Iron Man/Tony Stark comes in to finish the job, and scold Peter in the process.

Peter is on the path of the normal teen, but soon he discovers his lady love is the daughter of Vulture, resulting in the most awkward car ride ever. 

In a true hero moment, Peter races down the hallway of the school, taking off his suit to reveal his old Spider suit underneath. Unfortunately, he's thwarted by Shocker #2 in the process, getting thrown around like a rag doll.

The guy in the chair!

In one of the movie's best scenes, Peter is left crushed under rubble after confronting Vulture. Peter must summon all his strength and become the hero he needs to be, triumphantly lifting himself out of the rubble, thrusting him back in the game. 

Vulture and Spidey battle on the airplane carrying a bunch of cool toys to the new Avengers compound. Spidey even has to guide the airplane away from incoming buildings, allowing to crash on the beach.

The final fight between Vulture and Spidey finds the latter continuing to be unprepared for this sort of thing. As Vulture tries to make off with some goods his suit is about to explode and Spider-Man does what he can to try and save him from death.

After the events on the beach, Tony brings Peter to the Avengers compound, showing him his new Iron Spider suit. Peter rejects the offer and decides to stay in New York and be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Oh, and now Aunt May knows the truth. Whoops. 

Mid-Credits: Toomes is confronted by Mac Gargan, a.k.a. The Scorpion, who claims Toomes knows who Spider-Man is. Toomes says if he knew who he was, he'd already be dead. Good man.

End-Credits: Captain America shows up for one more educational video, this time on the importance of patience, no matter how meaningless the result. 

Tony: "Just don't do anything I would do... and definitely don't do anything I wouldn't do. There's a little gray area in there and that's where you operate."

Peter: "I was just trying to be like you."
Tony: "I wanted you to be better."

Peter: "I'm nothing without the suit!"
Tony: "If you're nothing without the suit, then you shouldn't have it."

Street Vendor: "Hey! You're that spider guy from TV!"
Spider-Man: "Call me Spider-Man."
Street Vendor: "Ok, Spider-Man. Do a flip."
[Spider-Man does a flip]
Street Vendor: "YEAH!"

Mr. Harrington: "Couldn't bear to lose a student on a school trip...not again."

Teacher: "What are you doing here the dance is going on?"
Ned: "Oh I was just um... looking at... porn."

Spider-Man: "Wait a minute... You guys aren't the real Avengers! I can tell Hulk gives it away."

Tony: "Can't you just be a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man?"

Aunt May: "What the f---!"

Coach Wilson: "Thanks, Captain. Pretty sure this dude's a war criminal now but, whatever, I gotta show these videos it's required by the state. Let's do this."

Peter: "I've got to go."
Michelle: "Where are you going? What are you hiding Peter?" I'm just kidding. I don't care. Bye."

Adrian: "The rich, the powerful, like Stark, they don't care about us! The world's changed boys; time we change too!"

Adrian: "Don't mess with me. Because I will kill you, and everybody you love."

Peter: [lifting the wreckage] "Come on, Spider-Man. Come on, Spider-Man. Come on, Spider-Man!"

Peter: "Spider-Man isn't a party trick! I'm just gonna be myself."
Ned: "Peter, nobody wants that."

Spider-Man: "That's going to dissolve in two hours."
Aaron: "No. No, no! You're going to fix this!"
Spider-Man: "Two hours! You deserve that!"
Aaron: "I've got ice cream!"
Spider-Man: "You're a criminal! Bye, Mr. Criminal!"

Happy: [After interrupting Peter's video diary] "We have really thin walls here."

Spider-Man: "Hey, Big Bird, this doesn't belong to you!"

In the movie, Adrian Toomes loses his salvaging job to Tony Stark's damage control operation, which is based on an actual group in the comics assigned to cleaning up after heroes.

The classic Spider-Man theme song can be heard over the Marvel logo at the beginning of the movie. 

The thugs in the bank are wearing masks modeled after the classic look of the characters Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk.

Several famous Spider-Man characters are classmates of Peter Parker, including Flash Thompson. Betty Brant and Jason Ianello. The love interest of Parker, Liz Toomes, is a reference to the character Elizabeth Allan, a character who has made appearances in Spider-Man comics and acted as a minor love interest.

Hannibal Buress plays Coach Wilson,  a nod to the Marvel character Coach Whiz Wilson, who first appeared in "Meet Miss Bliss" in 1955.

The mural in Peter's class depicts several famous scientists, including Tony Stark's father, Howard, and Dr. Erskine, the scientist who created the super soldier serum in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Bruce Banner can also be seen in a separate series of photos commemorating famous scientists.

During the weapons deal scene under the bridge, one of the weapons being sold was made out of an arm from one of Ultron's bots in AVENGERS 2.

The first character to don the Shocker mantle in the movie is named Jackson Brice, who in the comics goes by another alter ego - "Montana."

The mantle gets passed down to Herman Schultz, the character most associated with the Shocker villain in the comics.

A tiger mascot can be seen running through the halls during scenes when Peter is about to swing into action, which is a clever nod to Mary Jane's, "Go get em', tiger," line.

Jennifer Connelly voices the computer in Spidey's suit. She is married to actor Paul Bettany, who voices Tony's virtual assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. before becoming Vision in AGE OF ULTRON.

Donald Glover plays Aaron Davis in the movie, and in the comics, the character is also known as the villain, The Prowler. His character's license plate reads, "UCS-M01," which reference Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 which marks the first appearance of the character and the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man. His character even says he has a nephew who lives in the neighborhood, referring to Morales. 

The license plate on a car on the Staten Island Ferry reads "SM2-0563" which references Amazing Spider-Man #2, published May in 1963, which features the first appearance of Vulture and The Tinkerer. 

Peter's principal is played by Kenneth Choi, who also played the Howling Commando Jim Morita in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. A picture of Jim can be seen on principal Morita's cabinet, signifying the principal is the commando's descendant.

Spider-Man being trapped under the rubble is a direct reference to the Steve Ditko artwork in Amazing Spider-Man #33.

At the end of the movie, Michelle (Zendaya) tells everyone that her friends call her "MJ," which is, of course, a nod to the iconic Spider-Man love interest, Mary Jane Watson.

Tony Stark offers to Peter a new suit, which is a direct homage to the Iron Spider suit the character wears in the comics. 

In the mid-credits teaser, Toomes is confronted by Mac Gargan, who is sporting a scorpion tattoo, which is a reference to the character's villainous alter ego, The Scorpion.

The final end-credits scene mocks the notion of waiting until the end of the credits for special scenes. Well done, Marvel.

 

Though this is Spidey's first solo outing in the MCU, both he and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) made their first appearances in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.

As for side characters, there are references to famous Spider-Man characters everywhere. As mentioned above, famous characters like Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), Jason Ianello show up, while Michelle (Zendaya) calls herself MJ, a nod to Mary Jane Watson. She will likely take up the role of Parker's love interest in future movies, at least that's what we're all thinking. 

Another character is Parker's best friend Ned, who does not have a last name in the movie. However, the basis for the character was Ned Leeds, a character in the comics who works for the Daily Bugle, and who later becomes Hobgoblin after he becomes brainwashed. That being said, he is still a unique creation for the movie, with the name likely just a fun reference. He's too good at being the "Guy in the Chair" to go all Hobgoblin.

As for some recurring characters, Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr. has a big role to play, but in terms of screentime is only limited to about four scenes. Other characters from Stark's movies show up, including Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has been missing from the movies since IRON MAN 3. 

Another character who may have a role to play going forward is Aaron Davis (Donald Glover), who is The Prowler in the comics, and whose nephew is Miles Morales, a character who takes on the mantle of Spider-Man in a modern run of comics. 

Of course, Stan Lee cameos as an angry New York citizen shouting at Spidey. 

Last, but not least, Captain America (Chris Evans) makes some appearances in hilariously dorky educational videos. 

 

This movie keeps everything incredibly simple with one major villain in Adrian Toomes/Vulture. Keaton is one of the best MCU villains as Toomes, a desperate man who is willing to go as far as possible to protect and provide for his family. He is perhaps the most grounded villain in the franchise in terms of motivation and background, which is ironic given the whole having wings thing. Keaton finds a good balance between maniacal and straight evil, playing the role big when he has too and being intense in smaller moments, like the scene between him and Peter in the car. He lives at the end, a rarity for Marvel villains, and we may get a chance to see him again in future movies.

Toomes has his cronies, like The Tinkerer (Micheal Chernus),  who is more of the goofy tech guy, and Shocker, played most effectively when the mantle is passed to Bokeem Woodbine. He's more of a side thug than a major villain, but who knows, maybe he will come back into play in another movie. Maybe he will be like Crossbones and come back for the beginning of the sequel. 


 

IRON MAN - RETRO REVIEW

THE INCREDIBLE HULK - RETRO REVIEW

IRON MAN 2 - RETRO REVIEW

THOR - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER - RETRO REVIEW

THE AVENGERS - RETRO REVIEW

IRON MAN 3 - RETRO REVIEW

THOR: THE DARK WORLD - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER - RETRO REVIEW

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - RETRO REVIEW

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON - RETRO REVIEW

ANT-MAN - RETRO REVIEW

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR - RETRO REVIEW

DOCTOR STRANGE - RETRO REVIEW

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 - RETRO REVIEW

Source: JoBlo.com

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