The opening scene of Jon Watts' Spider-Man: Homecoming strangely feels like a veiled defense for the genre it both staunchly adheres to and somewhat successfully remolds to suit its more grounded and less bombastic mood.
Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) proudly shows a coworker his daughter's doodles of the Avengers.
While cleaning up the city of alien implements left behind from the invasion that was the climactic battle in Alan Taylor's Thor: Dark World (2013), they talk of how those superheroes have been on everyone's minds. Toomes then talks about how what's happening is just a matter of cultural progression – how decades ago, people were into Westerns and their cowboys, and now, into caped crusaders combating out-of-this-world villains.
In a way, Homecoming seems to say that the genre it belongs to – the superhero genre that subsists on reiterating origin stories to suit consistency within a multiverse that lack any efforts for closure because there is still so much profit to make – is here to stay, at least for the meantime while moviegoers are still willing to shell out money for its redundant pleasures.
However, the genre has started to show its weaknesses, with each new release nearly identical to the last, along with its preoccupation with special effects and raising expectations for movies that have yet to be written and shot. Homecoming is all of that, and quite thankfully, more.
From detailing the transformation of Toomes from the typical American businessman who only seeks to exploit tragedy for profit into the gravity-defying bandit who Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to foil to gain entry to the Avengers, the film quickly jumps to show how the 15-year-old superhero has been faring after the events in the Russo Brothers' Captain America: Civil War (2016). This isn't much, considering that Parker is essentially just an overachieving high school student with the power to shoot webs out of his wrists.
Scaled down superhero
Watts appropriately scales down the spectacle.
What essentially differentiates Homecoming from its ilk is its decidedly consistent endeavor to show the much-ballyhooed multiverse not from the perspective of the superheroes but from the ground. The film actually makes an effort to create a world that isn't all about fictional cities being turned into a collage of rubble by some murderous mastermind. It situates itself in a familiar place – New York City – that is all about diversity, survivalism in the midst of catastrophe, and the peculiarities that make all of its citizens stand out amid the repetition.
It is very clever that Homecoming, when it isn't about Parker looking for the right opportunity to showcase his powers, is busy detailing his life as a nobody in a school where concerns range from bullying to not-so-serious romances. In a Marvel multiverse that is populated with characters who are constantly embroiled in the most childish squabbles while wisecracking during deathly battles, Spider-Man may perhaps be the only superhero who actually earns the right to be immature. The film maximizes its affinity to youth and ends up feeling fresh despite the fact that it still essentially follows the superhero flick formula.
Also noteworthy is the film's villain, who in his ambition to simply enrich himself for the sake of his family resembles not the traditional overlord who aims to destroy the world but a creature of very human moral dilemmas.
A worthy addition
Homecoming is a step in the right direction for a genre that seems to be getting lost in all the routine of repetitive fanfare.
If the goal of the film is to ensure that the genre doesn't end up feeling and looking all the same with its larger-than-life and fetishistic attraction for wanton and destruction, then it succeeds. Homecoming is entertaining precisely because of its artificial smallness. It is giddy, colorful, and aptly unserious. It is guiltlessly fun. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.