Berryman vs Spider-Man: Homecoming (With Heavy Spoilers)


Just got out of the Thursday night showing of Spider-Man: Homecoming, aka Iron Man 4. What follows is analysis & commentary, and yes there will be spoilers, so if you’re triggered by that then turn back now.

Still with us?

Great.

Comparing Homecoming to Sony’s previous half-assed Spider-effort, Amazing Spider-Man 2, seems almost unfair. Marc Webb’s Spider-sequel was flawed from head to toe, starting with a script that seems to have been greenlit as a dare, with the absolute worst storytelling seen in a Spider-Man film. Yet at the same time, there were moments that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone nailed. That had more to do with the actors than the script or the directing. Yet for all its faults, Peter Parker was his own man. He wasn’t beholden to anyone else, he didn’t crave to be “noticed by Senpai,” he didn’t have a mentor to play the servile lickspittle to.

The same cannot be said for Homecoming.

At the start, Peter is a child riding a sugar high at a theme park, complete with the attention span of a hummingbird in desperate need of Adderall. He travels to Berlin to fight in the airport battle during Captain America: Civil War, then returns to New York with Happy Hogan, who goes on to serve as a negligent communication hub. All throughout the film, Tony Stark is either onscreen or his presence is felt. Sometimes it’s seeing Avengers Tower, sometimes it’s other characters commenting on Stark… sometimes it’s Happy representing Tony Stark. It’s a lot of Stark for a Spider-Man film. The reason? Because the MCU Peter Parker is all about wanting to hump Tony Stark’s leg like a puppy with two peters.

Whereas Holland’s “for the little guy” moment in Civil War sealed him in as a believable Peter Parker, here those moments are few. In the first half of the film he’s a spastic dork with a celebrity mancrush on Stark. When opportunities to shine arise, half of them are claimed by Stark. When the Vulture gets the better of Spidey and nearly drowns him in a lake? Iron Man to the rescue! When Vulture’s weapons slice a Staten Island Ferry in half? “Thank God, Iron Man’s here!”

So much Iron Man glory in a Spider-Man film. It’s sickening. Previous Spider-Films allowed Spider-Man to shine. But the first time he gets a solo movie in the MCU? Half the time it’s Iron Man saving him. I expect it from Sony. They’ve been desperate and, if you listen to Amy Pascal talk, it’s clear they needed someone else to make the grown up decisions. Enter Kevin Feige to “save the day.” And by “save the day” here I mean “miss the point.” After Doctor Strange, I wasn’t mad so much as disappointed. But now? Oh, I’m mad now.

Some Pros and Cons…

Pro: The villains, especially Michael Keaton as the Vulture. It was apparent to anyone who’d seen the trailer that Michael Keaton was going to do something special as Adrian Toomes. Keaton delivers the best villain performance since Alfred Molina in Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and, as Eddie pointed out in his spoiler-free review, Keaton’s also one of the MCU villains that is well fleshed out and developed. The villains all around, including Bokeem Woodbine, Michael Chernus as the non-elderly Tinkerer and Michael Mando as Mac Gargan were interesting. I found myself perking up whenever the villains came onscreen. Donald Glover apparently plays the failed Ultimate continuity’s version of the Prowler, who isn’t Hobie Brown and who is apparently related to Miles Morales. Why they went with a throwaway version of Prowler and not Hobie Brown, I can’t say. I guess to setup Miles as Spider-Man someday since Glover’s character does mention him.

While Keaton’s Vulture was great, the script isn’t substantial enough to lend him the gravitas of real and true menace. There is a scene where he realizes Peter is Spider-Man and he threatens him when Peter shows up to take his daughter (who turns out to be Liz) to Homecoming. But he doesn’t get to really go after that. He doesn’t get the chance to go after people that Peter loved. Peter loves Liz – what’s the Vulture gonna do about that? He never gets to go after Aunt May or Peter’s best friend Ned (another character plucked from the failed Ultimate continuity but given an existing name.) But Keaton does the best he can with a thin script, and he’s easily the standout performance in the film.

Pro: That Iconic Amazing Spider-Man #33 Moment. We do get a scene that’s an homage to Amazing Spider-Man #33. As the Vulture sets a trap for Spidey and buries him under tons of rubble, Peter – at once frantic and whimpering and crying – stops fussing and decides to *be* Spider-Man, eventually getting out from under the rubble.  It isn’t perfect by any means (way too much crying and whimpering) but Holland shows some good range on it.

Con: Yes, this is basically Iron Man 4. Even though there are only a handful of Stark scenes his presence permeates every facet of the picture. Aside from saving Peter’s life and a ferry full of people, he also dresses Spidey down when he screws up – when it’s really himself he wants to be yelling at after Civil War. Homecoming wastes time that could have been spent further developing Aunt May or Zendaya’s “MJ” on things like Happy not listening to Peter and hey, showing us all that Tony and Pepper are back together again. There’s even a “WILL HE?! WON’T HE?!?!” proposal moment. All of this with Peter having already left the scene. A lot of people are about to start making excuses for this and claiming it’s not Iron Man 4. They’re all going to be wrong.

Con: The script whenever Peter Parker needs to talk in the first 3/4 of the film. Peter’s annoying rapid fire, spastic speech patterns finally die down once he realizes the Vulture is Liz’s dad and Toomes threatens to kill everyone he loves. But that moment comes late in the film, and Holland’s Parker is largely annoying through much of the film. Especially when he’s talking to Ned, who is equally annoying. Director Jon Watts and producer Kevin Feige had stated early on that they wanted to copycat the tone of John Hughes movies but the finished product here feels like a TV show sadly trying to ape Hughes, and failing. The movie doesn’t have the required amount of heart to pull off a Hughes movie and the script doesn’t seem to be complex enough to get into the necessary Hughesian nooks and crannies.

Con: Peter’s high school chums. As I mentioned before, Jacob Batalon’s Ned is largely annoying. Eventually he winds up serving in the same capacity as so many others you’ve seen in superhero films and tv shows. He is Michael Kaine’s Alfred. He is Arrow’s Felicity Smoak or Flash’s Cisco Ramon. Or Supergirl’s Winn. Remember a time when Spider-Man didn’t need that? Well too bad, kids. Everything else out there has that character now so Spider-Man cannot be an exception. It all culminates in a throwaway scene with Ned trying to help Peter find the headlights on a sports car and give him other assistance while Peter drives said car in high speed pursuit. Yes, that’s right. Towards the end we get a chase scene with Spider-Man driving a sports car and not so much on the webbing. Because hey.

Much ado was made over Flash Thompson before release, who is more of a ‘mathlete’ than a jock. He’s a throwaway character that only pipes a few times but is largely forgettable and unremarkable.

Betty Brant is in here, too. Complete with Gwen Stacy’s hair and black hairband. Betty has precious little to do here other than deliver news, awkwardly and badly, during the school’s morning video announcements.

Con: Underdeveloped supporting characters in Aunt May and Not-Mary Jane. Marisa Tomei is a fantastic actress and someone whose work I have enjoyed for decades. Her first instinct, as we later learned from interviews, was to play Aunt May as an older woman – something Tomei is more than capable of. Instead, Sony and Marvel wanted young “Aunt Hottie,” as Stark called her in Civil War. In fact, Aunt May’s attractiveness is basically the reason she’s even in the film. Stark makes an early crack about her, some store owner makes a remark about how hot she is – and later a much younger waiter even flirts with her. Later, she gets to be worried for Peter. That’s about the extent of Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. It’s a shame that an actress of that caliber is basically wasted on a story that really just wants to get back to Iron Man. Tomei’s Aunt May is never really a chance to lay down much of a foundation in this Wannabe Hughesian MCU Ironspiderverse, and that’s a tragedy. I also found myself wondering what Tomei’s take on older, middle-aged Aunt May might have been like. Too bad we’ll never know.

The biggest leap forward for Aunt May is at the dead end, when she walks in and sees Peter putting on his Spider-Man costume, thereby learning his secret. As she is about to drop an F bomb, the end credits interrupt. If you enjoyed Spider-Man’s uncharacteristic swearing in Civil War then you will probably find a base chuckle out of Aunt May’s interrupted F-word.

You have probably read by now (or hell, maybe you haven’t, who knows!) that Zendaya is playing ‘MJ’ but not ‘Mary Jane.’ We get this bit at the end, when Zendaya’s character Michelle says “My friends call me MJ.” She has little to do in the film other than stalk Peter while trying not to look like she’s stalking him and making snide comments here and there. In the scene in Washington, D.C. the filmmakers go out of their way to make sure we all know she’s a rank & file Social Justice Warrior who is “woke.” Yay.

That’s about all there is to say about the character. As one of the Disney TV Princesses du jour, she’s probably back for the sequel. Maybe then they’ll even give her a decent part where she speaks. Who knows.

I will say, though, that this was  a gutless move on Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal’s part. If they wanted a non-white Mary Jane then do it. Sony’s a willing participant in any and all controversy orgies, though Disney Marvel typically likes to avoid it. As evidence I point to Sony’s doubling-down on the whole social justice thing for the all-female Ghostbusters film which contrasts to Disney Marvel’s fumbling of the Dr. Strange whitewashing & Tibet controversies. Disney Marvel would rather not engage in the controversy; Sony will jump naked in it and wallow like a fat happy piggy desperate for attention. Putting in an ‘MJ’ but not a ‘Mary Jane’ was a stupid, half-assed measure. I am reminded of the Fred Van Lente Chameleon Rape/Non-Rape and Marvel’s laughable handling of it afterward. Also of the fallout from the Shed storyline. After this, consider Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal only half-woke and not nearly as woke as the new not-Mary Jane.

Pro & Con: Peter Finally Decides To Be His Own Man – Yet Doesn’t. In the trailers it was obvious that this story would follow Peter through his Stark obsession and then finally taking off on his own. This is indeed how it plays out. The moment Peter turns down being an Avenger and donning a God awful Iron-Spider inspired suit at the end (that he will probably wind up wearing anyway in another film, sadly) it’s a great moment for the character. But the fact remains – an entire Spider-Man film should not have been wasted for Peter to finally become independent. “Gaining independence” should never have been an arc for this character in the first place. And even as you get excited over Peter finally saying “No” to Stark… he returns home and there waiting for him on his bed, courtesy of Tony Stark, is the Tony Stark Spider-Man suit Peter wore through most of the film. “YES! I am finally me own man! I can finally do things my way and… OH SNAP! TONY STARK GAVE ME BACK THE SUIT HE MADE!” And thus a character that was briefly independent once more moves back under the shadow of an unnecessary mentor.

In closing, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a hot mess. While it does manage to be better than the previous Marc Webb film, Amazing Spider-Man 2, it does so marginally. And being a better film than ASM 2 surely couldn’t be that hard of a feat, but Homecoming feels so alien at times and very unlike Spider-Man that it made it a close call. While the movie places too much weight on Tony Stark and not key characters like Aunt May or not-Mary Jane, it also allows Michael Keaton to be the best onscreen Spider-villain since Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. It would be a “middle of the road” Sony Spider-Man film but with Marvel being involved and, per Kevin Feige in the creative driving seat, this should have been much better than it was. It’s a barely below average Spider-flick that desperately wants instead to be another chapter in Iron Man’s story, complete with Tony and Pepper getting back together.

I’ve said before on the podcast that we’re faced with a reality where, though subpar, the Marc Webb Spider-films were closer to what Peter should be than what we get when Marvel actually gets involved. With Marvel involved, we get an MCU Spider-Man film where Tony Stark is front & center and Uncle Ben isn’t even mentioned. I was waiting for it, too… that one mention, that one quick reference to Uncle Ben, somewhere. We don’t get it, just as the movie misses the point of Peter Parker entirely.

I’ve also said before that I doubt we’ll ever get another Spider-Man film as good as Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Homecoming basically cements that for me. At this point, the best use of Spider-Man in the MCU will be in the Russo brothers’ projects – not the Sony/Marvel solo films.

Who will like this film?

Audiences that aren’t into the comics and just watch the films. They won’t know enough about Peter Parker and Spider-Man to really understand how badly this all missed the mark.

Iron Man fans will really dig Homecoming; it brings Happy back to a prominent role and reignites the Stark/Potts romantic kettle, while also showing the move out of Stark Tower into the new Avengers compound. Tony fans will love the scene where he’s in India, partying up and talking to Peter through the Iron Man automaton suit that saves him from drowning. Hey, remember when Peter used to save himself in his movies? Pepperidge Farm Remembers!

People who don’t care much about continuity or character consistency will probably like the film, or people who were just desperate for a good – even passably mediocre – Spider-Man film after the train wreck that was Amazing Spider-Man 2.  If all one is looking for is action though, Homecoming may be a bit of a disappointment. Though there are many action scenes, they are quite short and average.

REVIEW: C-

Keaton’s performance saves this from a D, and the overbearing presence of Tony Stark takes vital time away from other characters. But hey, at least Tony and Pepper are back together, amirite? And that’s what’s most important for a Spider-Man film.

George Berryman, who will be outside burying the last bit of respect he had for Kevin Feige in an old shoe box!


ADDENDUM A: Taking some flak over the Iron Man 4 thing on our Facebook page. That’s fine, I’d expected that. I stand by what I wrote, which was “Even though there are only a handful of Stark scenes his presence permeates every facet of the picture.” Throughout the film there is something Stark related either being seen or discussed. This includes Happy, who is there working for Tony Stark. Aunt May mentions him (and, point in her favor, dislikes him.) The “Stark Internship” is talked about many times during the picture. Why do the bad guys decide to become bad guys? They’re angry at Stark. In the end the Vulture tries to pull a heist from a plane leaving Stark Tower. On the podcast I once said “This is Tony Stark’s world; we just live in it.” Homecoming showcases that.

At the end of the day all I can do is give you my opinion. As a Spider-Man film, Homecoming is conceptually flawed. Let’s all be very honest about something. The only reason Iron Man is here is to cross-promote and to draw Marvel Cinematic Universe traffic into a Sony film. If they had wanted the character in there so badly they should have titled the film differently – maybe Spider-Man Team-Up – and then promoted it not as a solo Spider-Man film but as a hodge podge of guest appearances down the line for subsequent films. With that route, Marvel and Sony wouldn’t have to concern themselves with what to do with the supporting cast they ultimately (Heh!) fumble with here.

I had someone tell me on the Facebook page that I needed to read Amazing Spider-Man #1 “for the love of God.” I understood what he was getting at; in fact Brad had brought up the Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man #1 to me about an hour before this guy brought it up. Peter “trying out” for the Fantastic Four in that issue is nothing like the celebrity crush going on here in Homecoming. At all. In Amazing Spider-Man #1 Peter goes to the Fantastic Four for one thing: money. When it’s clear he’s not going to get any, he splits. He doesn’t go because he looks up at Reed Richards as a mentor or role model. He doesn’t send Reed Richards audio diary entries about how someone bought him a churro. He doesn’t try to call or text Ben Grimm a dozen times a day. When there’s no cash in it, he’s gone. It’s not at all the same thing.

Another Spider-fan took exception to me saying “Who will like this film? Audiences that aren’t into the comics and just watch the films.” But that’s not the end of who I said might enjoy this. In his Facebook comment he later went on to say that he “hates” people saying things like that but Crawlspacers that does describe a giant chunk of this film’s intended audience. Literally. There are people out there watching Marvel movies and TV shows who don’t read the comics – some of them probably haven’t read any comics. I know people that fit the description and you probably do as well. Maybe they’re family, or people you’ve worked with for years, etc. But they are out there and they are a legit part of the audience. When I point that out, I’m not saying you can only like this if you don’t know much about the character. Hell, I fully expect to see Brad say “I’d give it a B!” after he sees it. I’m describing, accurately, a big part of the audience heading out to theaters to see the movie this weekend.

Additionally, I had someone say I “didn’t want to have fun at the movies.” This is absurd. I don’t buy comics or see movies as a way to not have fun, or to dislike them. When I like something or don’t I’ll say why and give reasons for it. Specific, detailed reasons. That’s the way we’ve always done it here. Did I suspect going in that I would not like Homecoming? Well from the trailers, damn right. I was about 75% sure I wouldn’t like it much. If I had been wrong I would have gladly and gleefully admitted as much. When I read a couple of days ago that there were some parts of the trailer filmed specifically for the trailer that weren’t in the film, I actually got a tad more optimistic. But just a tad. 

Liked it? Take a second to support the Crawlspace on Patreon!

(22) Comments

  1. Bill

    All things considered, I liked this movie. It's not the Spider-Man movie I would have made by any means, but let's face it, we're never going to get the 100% classic Spider-Man movie we'd all probably like to see. Times have just changed too much. So I'll take a movie where Spider-Man acts like Spider-Man at least. (And the rest be what it may). Another positive note: I thought the movie was a lot fun, and I thought Tom Holland did a good job as Peter/Spidey. At least he made jokes while he was fighting the bad guys (unlike Toby McGuire in the Rami films). Speaking of which, Spider-Man 2 was actually a pretty depressing movie when you think about it. I found Homecoming to be lot more optimistic. That being said, we have now had SIX (count them six) Spider-Man movies, and without exception, in every single movie the main villain has some sort of personal connection to Peter Parker, (and he learns his secret identity). This only made sense with the Green Goblin. I don't know why film makers feel that it is necessary for Peter to have some sort of personal relationship to the villain he's fighting. They even had to make Sandman the one who killed in Uncle Ben in SM3, and then he saw Peter without his mask on at the end. Makes no sense.

  2. Enigma_2099

    I'm with you, Bear. Someone call me when Marvel wants to do an ACCURATE Spider-man movie. No, I'm not saying the movie sucks. I'm saying it's not the movie I wanted.

  3. irishfan

    i liked the speech. Down to the accent and the parochial talk about bread with glovers character. when i saw the tailor i taught the talking suit wold bother me but as a plot device for him to learn more it moved the story along. But would not mind some wear and tear for the next film. Facial recognition and always on video recording was a stretch. i liked how shit his home made suit looked. A science genius and bilingual i can accept but a modern teenager having the skills of a master tailor is a bit much. They nailed that. I liked the conversation between the vulture and peter. Toomes comparing his activities to stark. Playing the 'guys like us' working class card. Michelle is clearly mj. She is observant, she is in his circle. He will have a girl friend in the next one not michelle, they will die. Michelle in the third one. we will find out she knew all along. Saw peter clear a 10ft gate or lift a locker. thats my bet and i don't have a problem with it. The kirstan dunst MJ because of the kiss scene is a part of iconic movie history. They can imitate, they can try something better or they can try something different. They are going for something different, thats it. This is the 5th spider man film in 15 years. They can't start with an origin story again. it would be mocked from here to syria. This is an MCU film and as a way of introducing him to the MCU it was good. Not sure if he signed sokovia accords. should that be important.

  4. Barry Reese

    Loved the movie -- I disagree with most of your points, not surprisingly. You'd made it clear before the film came out that you were going to have serious issues with it based upon the trailers. I enjoyed it and thought the cast was great -- while I didn't like Ganke being named Ned or Michelle being MJ, the film really captured the essence of the character. I'd definitely pay to see it again -- and I think I *do* value consistency and characterization AND I've been reading Spidey since the mid 1970s. Thanks for the review, even if I respectfully disagree :-)

  5. Al

    Excellent piece George. Sorry I'm late to this party. I didn't want to read reviews before I saw the film or wrote my own thoughts on it. I concur with many of your points. Essentially this is like Dr Strange to me. A fun time killer movie and an enjoyable entry into the MCU...when looked at in isolation. As an adaptation is it betrayal pornography (also like Dr Strange). Sure adaptations are at liberty to make changes in various ways, especially in order to make the source material work in the new medium. But the one thing they are OBLIGATED to do is respect the spirit of the source material in question. Both of Ditko's creations didn't do that injecting far too much 'goofy slapstick comedy' into the lead characters. Whilst it's way worse to ever do that to Doctor Strange than to Spider-Man I don't think any MCU lead got it as bad as Spider-Man in this. Basically this movie for 2/3 has this mutant Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon hybrid character who was eager to live up to his predecessors like Miles but was also a bumbling fool like USM cartoon Spidey. Clear evidence for this exists from the fact that in basically every action set piece Spider-Man either caused or exacerbated a situation that otherwise wouldn't have been as much of a problem if he'd left it well alone. This movie essentially showcased Spider-Man as 'a hero in training who wants to get into the big leagues that he's just not ready for yet'. His intervention in crimes and crises cause more harm than good whereas in the comics and older films (even ASM2) most of the time he might stumble and make mistakes because he is human but the message of the stories are clearly that the world is a better place for Peter's heroic efforts, even if his own life suffers. Or at the very least he wasn't in the wrong in choosing to intervene whereas in this movie he is. He tried to intervene when the Goblin kidnapped Gwen and screwed up big time. Maybe in that example you could argue things would've been better if he'd left it alone. But he wasn't wrong to get invovled in the first place. In this movie the message was clear he shouldn't have gotten invovled, he was told not to, he did and then things wound up worse for it. He's a colossal screw up which is due to this movie riding the asinine youth train the character has been on since 2007. Youth=screw up even though in the original comics that wasn't the case. he screwed up more because he was human and it wasn't a CONSTANT thing nor the point that he had to grow out of.

  6. Jack

    The mental starting point for me now, for all these MCU movies, is, "This is not the 616 universe." It was not the 616 Dr. Strange. It was not the 616 Ant-Man. It isn't the 616 Thor. What it is, is it's own thing. A synthesis of 616 elements, Ultimate universe elements, and new stuff. And the PTB at the MCU even say, "This isn't the 616 universe", so they aren't claiming to be something they aren't. So, to judge any of these movies using 616 as the absolute measuring-stick, is like complaining that a baker made a German chocolate cake instead of a cheesecake, because he used flour, eggs, and water. The MCU is using about 70% of the 616 ingredients, throwing in 20% Ultimate ingredients, and adding 10% experimental ingredients, like nutmeg or meringue. We have to judge the movies by what the movie-maker *internally* set out to do, because they've outright told us, "The MCU movies aren't set in the 616 universe." Now, if we say, "Well, they SHOULD have followed the 616 universe assiduously, that's what I want", that's totally fine. But that isn't the movie they intended to make.

  7. Tom

    I don't think you can compare the original comics continuity with the MCU. In the comics, Spider-man was on much more equal footing with the other heroes, at least in terms of experience, since they got their powers and caught the public eye at around the same time. So of course, he won't really look up to them. It would be like looking up to your peer in college. In the MCU, by the time Peter got his powers, a lot has happened with Iron Man and the rest. He's a Johnny-come-lately in this continuity, so looking up to Tony Stark can make sense. He's like the college professor.

  8. Justin Parris

    @Cheesedique "I don't know where you grew up or went to High School, but do you really think a modern school in Queens, New York wouldn't have "ethnic diversity"?" The concern with "diversity" isn't generally that it isn't accurate or a positive thing to have, it's that it feels too awkwardly forced in. Usually it feels awkwardly forced by being a little *too* evenly distributed. Nobody's saying that the school needs to be 100% white, but generally speaking this perfect diversity world isn't how things work out irl. Minorities, like all small communities of similar background, tend to come in major batches and pockets. This is especially true in big cities (like NYC). Given that the American school system is (imo unfortunately) entirely geography based, this means that if the school as any African American students, it likely has lots and lots and lots and lots of just African American students. It's the "captain planet" team of say, the Homecoming's academic decathalon that triggers the viewer's brain to say "oh, this is a movie I'm watching" and breaks suspension of disbelief. That said, it didn't bother me this time since I thought all the actors did a good job across the board, so it wasn't very noticeable.

  9. Justin Parris

    I ended up seeing this movie yesterday anyway as I ended up with babysitting without trying, and I have a lot to say about it. Ultimately, I don't think George was *wrong* about any of his complaints, but I think he blew them all significantly out of proportion. Tony is in the movie too much, and Peter doesn't quite take the moral high ground in their final Avengers conversation as much as he should have. Really though, this wasn't a movie about "Tony is more awesome than Peter". It was a movie about "Tony is a colossal moron, and is too stupid to realize Peter is bailing him out." Something I think George is missing about the comparison to Peter's attempt to join the fantastic four, is that unlike the comics, Tony actually does accept Peter and in function promise him money. In this movie, Tony represents everything Peter wants and really isn't supposed to have. Enough money not to worry about it in any way, public acceptance, peer acceptance within the community, respect. Unlike Reed Richards who doesn't pay Spidey and doesn't at first show great interest in him, Tony swoops in during Civil War, functionally promises to take all of Peter's problems away and bring him into the Avengers, a group who was formed in NYC when Peter was what in this timeline? 11? This is a completely different ball of wax than ASM's FF attempt, but not in the way George is trying to counterpoint. The entire deck is stacked against 15 year old Peter being able to say no to Tony. Seeing it this way, the opening sequence of Homecoming showcases Stark as a pretty despicable guy. He desperately needs someone who can beat Cap's team, and he finds the completely Amazing Peter Parker. He misleads him into believing he's really bringing him in as partner, then ditches him with a living voicemail box in Happy as soon as Tony's immediate need is gone. Peter's mannerisms in the first 3/4's are inaccurate and annoying as George says, but this is more a commonality of all the MCU movies than it is a mistake unique to their portrayal of Peter. When the series started in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr. making Iron Man relevant by stealing a large portion of Peter's wit and style and adjusting it for that franchise, and every subsequent movie has tried to copy the movie that was copying Spider-Man's comedy, I don't think this was really avoidable, though it is regrettable. Not Mj's portrayal in the movie was a complete disaster, but her relevance to the plot of this specific movie was so tiny that the damages were mitigated. It's a problem more left for future films rather than hurting this one badly I think. Marissa Tomei was underutilized, but I'm not sure where and how to fit her in more to the story as it was presented. The plot was mostly external to Peter's home life, and I think that was an excellent call after ASM 2 wasted an hour of screen time whining about his parents who have been important characters to no spidey fan ever. While in many ways, George is right that they did not understand who Peter Parker is as a person, what I felt they understood extremely well, and why I loved this movie, is that they completely understood WHAT Peter is as a literary device. The basis of Peter Parker storytelling falls under what I call the "It's a wonderful life" model. Main protagonist is a character with selfish but modest personal aspirations in life. They forego those personal aspirations at every turn to instead do the right thing. In spite of constantly doing the right thing, it seems nothing goes right for them, and nobody appreciates just how much they sacrifice to do what they do. We, the audience knows how awesome they are, but it seems like nobody else does. This culminates in a "darkest night" where things look beyond hope. The tension of our hero always losing out, never getting that satisfaction of a complete and total "win" reaches a breaking point. Then, they finally give our hero that win we've been waiting for. They are personally revitalized, completely overcome their antagonist in a big way, and are widely shown to be completely respected. The specifics and precise structure shift around of course, but that's the overall model and I think this was the first Spider-Man movie to get it right. Though I think there were still some missteps, like Not Ned Leeds knowing Peter's identity and being a constant source of support. It hurts this dynamic significantly. This though, is where I think the Tony moments succeeded and we actually could have used one more. Tony "saving the day" from spidey's failure suits the build of this style of arc. We're being denied the "F yeah!" victory we're not supposed to get until the climax of the story. I actually would have preferred it if Tony showed up in the climax only to lose to the Vulture. Then our hero's vindication would have been 100% completed. Mostly though, I just don't think George's complaints bothered me as much as they did George. Maybe I'm so starved for Spider-Man I'm not getting in the comics that I was emotionally tricked by what was on screen and will revise my score to being much lower in 6 months time, but for the moment I rate this very highly. A- 9/10

  10. Noriaki Vol

    Mr. Berryman, even tho it's clear you got a lot of hate for this, I'll just like to let you know that I applaud you for this review, since amidst all the Homecoming hype, I never thought I'd see something like what you wrote here. I absolutely agree with 99% of the points you presented here, from the heavy Iron Man presence, to making Peter the complete opposite of what he was since his inception (After all, Stan Lee fought for this character to escentially be the anti Robin, a kid who could fight & grow by himself) , to the bizarre & arbitrary way characters were changed, leading to a good cast being wasted (with the only exception being, of course, Keaton & his gang of criminals), & most irritating for me, how uncle Ben was completely ignored. I get it, they didn't want to do the origin again, that's fine... But if you're going to do Spider-Man this early, you can't just ignore him, the man was a father to Peter! If you're not going to have the "power & responsibility" line, then great, all I ask is for you to have the message present! As anything Spider-Man related should!... But then again, if Spider-Man already had a paternal figure, how could we have those OH so great *sarcasm* moments of "Notice me Stark-Senpai"? What I do have to object to, is listing the iconic "The final chapter!" scene as a possitive, since it didn't even came CLOSE to half the weight & impact that scene shoudl've had (fortunately, Spectacular Spider-Man gave us a better rendition of that scene, however, I must admit, I wish Raimi had adapted that moment for Spider-Man 2, since he earned it). Speaking of Spider-Man animated series, am I the only one that thinks this movie seemed to take FAR too many (aka, more than 0) notes from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon? Aka the worst Spider-Man thing to come out in recent memory outside the comics (& no, we could debate about how bad ASM2 was, at least Garfield gave it his all & seemed to genuinely care about the character, compared to the annoying, Deadpool-esque character USM gave us). As a side note, I still think Peter should've had a proper Spider suit, have the high tech one be the Iron Spider one (The REAL one, not that godawful thing at the end), have that same Iron Spider suit be the one Tony tries to give him for the conference, so when Spidey turns down both Stark & the Avengers, he goes home & puts on his own suit (Maybe then the point they were trying to make at the end would've sticked better... The rest of the movie wouldn't have supported it, but hey, it would've been something... ANYTHING). Also, I hated how there was no real final battle, instead Peter just survived the Vulture until he made a dumb move & defeated himself. In the end, I'd like to conclude with this: As a movie separated from it's source material, I'd say it's decent action fluff we all would expect from the MCU... But it is not a standalone movie about some newly created hero... It's meant to be a Spider-Man movie, & as an adaptation, it utterly fails & actively seems to go away from all that Spider-Man (Specially in his early days) is meant to be. I know by nature adaptations have to change stuff, but when you change the core of a character, you might as well scrap the whole thing, specially coming from what is supposed to be (& in most cases has been) the definitive, best version of this characters on film.

  11. Evan

    Great review, George. It might be boring, but I do agree with you and am glad I'm not the only one. I will say, though, that, while I'm not happy with the direction they went (with Tony Stark, etc.), I think if they were going to go that way, it was done well. I just don't know why Peter was driving a car or why he got a fear of heights all of a sudden. And on the ultra-nitpicky side of things, I saw some typos in the credits, most notably when during the list of songs featured. The first one, the theme from the Spider-man cartoon, was missing the hyphen(!!!!!!). I couldn't believe it. BD would hate that, too, I think. It just gave the impression that not a lot of care was put into it, and that made me sad.

  12. Cheesedique

    @xonathan "What didn't pass for me. -The overly done ethnic diversity at the science high school. Really? It was WAY over done. " I don't know where you grew up or went to High School, but do you really think a modern school in Queens, New York wouldn't have "ethnic diversity"?

  13. Cheesedique

    I will say, in the similarly flawed ASM 2, Peter is his own man inasmuch that Uncle Ben or finding his killer are no longer his driving motivations, it's finding out what happened to his scientist father with the subway lab. Hell, even Dennis freakin' Leary was more of a motivator for Peter in ASM 2 than Uncle Ben. So where this movie fails by having Stark be Peter's be all, end all driving motivator, so did ASM 2 by its outright dismissal of Uncle Ben (who at least had even freakin appeared in the first ASM film). I agree with the crux of this review by George, there was way too much Tony Stark. I hope (it is at least implied at the end) that Peter will be more content to stick to his corner of New York and doing his thing. But wait, the next time we see this Spider-Man will be Avengers 3. So much for that. But otherwise, I personally did really enjoy this film and will be going again this week. It's the best we're going to get with the current, corporate cluster that the Spidey movie rights still are. I have to also agree, neither Marvel or Sony will do Raimi's SM2 better in terms of a Spider-Man that is presented with comic fidelity to Lee / Ditko (minus the organic webbing of course--and having MJ & Harry in High School with Peter).

  14. Jeremy

    Great review George! I don't agree with you on all points (what fun would that be?) but I respect your opinions and I always appreciate your passion for the character. As a long time reader myself (started with ASM #222 in 1981) I love this take on the character. That being said I see your points too, but within the MCU it all makes sense to me and I for one am glad to see this taking a whole different turn from the comics. This to me is the best Spider-Man movie so far with the exception of Raimis Spider-Man 2 (it's a photo finish). I enjoyed seeing Starks interactions with Spidey (once again, only in the MCU) and look forward to the next movie, which I'm sure will be more of a stand alone Spidey movie. I'm guessing it will come out after the Infnity War Avenger movies are done. Keaton as Toomes was great, and it seems to me they are taking him down the Norman road, villain that knows his identity and will be a thorn in his side even from the shadows etc etc. At any rate, can't wait to hear you all discuss it in the podcast. Keep thwipping George!

  15. Brad Douglas

    Very well written piece George explaining your pros and cons of the movie. It always amazes me that people don't want you to have a different opinion. Everyone is entitled to one. I'm sorry people are being a bit rude to you about it.

  16. Lee Swain

    This is a review of the movie based solely on how it stands up to the critique of a Spider-Man purist. And while I can sympathize with that (as one myself) I do not think it is fair to this movie at all. If it was up to me, everything in this movie would match the characters and storylines of the original comics (most specifically the Romita run for myself). Hell I would be 100% fine if they set the movie in 1963! SERIOUSLY! But if you put aside what we think a Spider-Man movie is supposed to be, who Peer is supposed to be, who "MJ" is supposed to be. This is an absolutely phenomenal movie. One of (if not the) best MCU movie. Funny, smart, relevant. Peter is a fantastic character and embodies everything that made the Peter of the comics great (while having some slightly different motivations at this age in his career). And most importantly, this movie is pure FUN from start to end. Now moving on to Spider-Man purist critique, I was incredibly concerned about several things going in. Mostly the same things GB mentioned. IM being a mentor, IM making his suit, the AI in the suit and various changes to core characters like Ned Leeds and Aunt May. Many of my fears were both eased and later made worse. I ended up feeling fine with the relationship with Iron Man. Sure it is a different take and I would prefer Peter be driven purely by a sense of responsibility while also trying to provide for Aunt May. But given that we have done that twice already I was fine with them doing a different take that was still based on past comic book plotlines (albeit in a different time frame), especially given that this Peter is young and there is plenty of time to explore these story beats in coming movies. I really hated the idea of Sider-Man having an Iron Man like in suit AI, and I still do. But it worked in the movie, was very entertaining and would be completely fine with it IF AND ONLY IF it goes no further than this movie. The fact that he gets the suit back from Iron Man at the end was very upsetting to me. If Spidey continues to have an in suit AI that was made by Tony Stark in the MCU universe I will be an unhappy Spider-Man fan. That is WRONG WONG WRONG. Now IF Peter goes on to build HIS OWN suit with some cool tech, that is OK. I would even be fine if HE makes the AI (and it is MUCH Less chatty), but that seems a stretch for Peter's 15/16 year old genius. He NEEDS to make his own non-AI suit in Avengers or the next Spidey movie or they really screwed up! Most other issues I had were much smaller. Young hot Aunt May was fine, I mean I preferred Sally Field and Rosemary Harris but in the grand scheme, I guess Aunt May's age or looks are just not that important to me. Ned Leeds was great, I mean he was Ned Leeds in name only obviously. But again I guess Ned Leeds is not that important to me to care, I would prefer he was a competitive suitor to Betty in the next movie but no big deal. And I thought Liz Allen was great, perfect even. Not 100% on who her father was, but don't see that change as an issue at all to be honest. Moving on to bigger issues and going back to Betty, why the hell waste Betty Brant on a pointless cameo in which she looks exactly like Gwen Stacy?!?!?! Was that supposed to be two references at once? Was that them telling us that they have no intentions of using Betty or Gwen in the future as they have been done before? Not cool. And finally, as a MASSIVE fan of Mary Jane I take great issue with the idea that the character that Zendaya is playing is going to be this Spider-Man's "MJ". I really hope that this was just poking fun at the audience for the outcry when it was rumored she would be playing Mary Jane. Now that said, I thought she was great in the movie. Very likable character, a great addition. But she was about a million miles away from Mary Jane. Ethnicity aside (which I don't actually care about), I do take issue with her not being a red head. While I know that kinda makes her need to be white, I would have accepted died hair. But of course her personality is far more important, Mary Jane should be like Emma Stone in Easy A, not Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club! They could not have gotten here character more wrong! So in summary. GREAT movie. Loved it, had a great time watching it. Loved Tom Holland SO MUCH. And if they can get rid of the AI costume and do right by more classic characters going forward (especially MJ and JJJ) and also hopefully come back to the themes of power and responsibility then they could have a truly great iteration of Spider-Man. Maybe even the best. But Spider-Man 2 is still my favorite Spider-Man movie (and favorite movie in fact).

  17. xonathan

    George, I agree with you on all point except one one. And It's entirely a matter of opinion, but I don't think "Iron Man Jr: The adventures of a kid dressed like Spider-Man" is better than ASM2, even marginally. The greatest sin ASM2 committed was repeating some of the same character beats previously explored in the Raimi trilogy half-assly and waisting time on things that didn't need to be shown. Ok, also crappy acting. But after all that, it was still a Spider-man movie. SMH wasn't. I won't add to your review, but here are other things that passed for me: -The Cometh the Commuter scenes were funny. -The girl problems. Something that the Raimi and Webb films MISSED the mark entirely were Peter Parker's girl problems. His problems are not "I can't date you bc I might but you in danger :...( " His problems are that he wants to date the girl, but his responsibility as Spider-man gets in the way. This movie finally nailed that with Liz at Homecoming. That scene was perfect, and when he ran outside to dress up that was the perfect amount of drama. I really enjoyed that scene. -ASM#33. Loved it. I actually liked the whining and whimpering. It gave it more stakes. Like he really did think he was going to die there. -Tom Holland was likable What didn't pass for me. -The overly done ethnic diversity at the science high school. Really? It was WAY over done. I didn't mind the subtle changes in Spectacular Spider-Man, but this was just too much -The overly done connection to the Avengers, specifically the origins of the Vulture and Shocker. When was the last time a bad guy just came and said "Hey, I'm going to build a tech suit and be even badder." Why does it have to be connected to something all the time? -Ned Not Ganke. He was likable but entirely not spider-man related. -Lack of Spider-Sense -They missed the mark again on the Peter/Spider-man dual identity. These two should have different personalities. Both Peter and Spidey seemed to talk the same amount. -Michael Keaton is a fine actor, but his character, like the rest of the cast, is not representative of his comic counterpart. It's just a made up character with the name attached to it. -Not Mary Jane MJ. What the hell was that. Who is she supposed to be playing? IDK! She's so unlikable and self-righteous the whole time. And a weirdo. Srsly! Aggh! -Pretty much the whole cast not playing their comic book counterpart. -The lack of a climactic battle at the end. There is no battle. Spidey just stops the Vulture evil plan and his getup explode for reasons. Nothing will beat Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man final battle with the Goblin. To date, the best live action Spider-Man fight ever. -Just overall the whole plot and story does not resemble any Spider-Man story whatsoever. It frustrated me to no end. George, didn't you think that the last after credit scene was so appropriately meta given how bad this movie was?

  18. Dan

    Why did you had respect for Kevin Keige? He has always came off as condescending to comic book fans all the while selling them a banal corporate product. Marvel Studio movies aren't good movies.

  19. TJay T

    This was the review I have been waiting for. I was really, REALLY hoping that Homecoming would surprise George. Guess I'm off to see Baby Driver this weekend...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *