We Need To Talk About Peter Parker.

Film Spider-man: Homecoming is out and it was pleasure to see its gloriousness at the lunch time showing in Screen One at FACT's Picturehouse in Liverpool. Short audience report.  About ten of us, barely a peep out of anyone apart from me laughing like a hyena on the front row. I'm amazed no one went out to complain about the noise I was making.

Few films this year have made me laugh this much, just as few films have had me this enraptured, hanging on to every moment.  Visually and narratively rich, it's simply one of the best comic book films ever made.  But enough of that hyperbole, let's survey some talking points.

There will be spoilers.

Having never really had much love for the Raimi films, enjoying The Amazing Spider-Man more than most, this feels to me like the most "Spiderman" film of the lot, the one which seems to preserve the essence of the comics, gets the character right.  It builds on what we saw in Civil War, the excitable teenager still happy to have these amazing powers, still discovering what he's capable of.

This is the best Spiderman film ever.

Why does it succeed?  By tossing out everything but the essence of the character and his mythology.  If the Raimi films are akin to the ITV Sherlock Holmes adaptations starring Jeremy Brett and the following two films starring Andrew Garfield are  Sherlock, Spiderman: Homecoming is Elementary.  Loads of recognisable elements reconfigured in the service of telling a good story.

Where the previous films were in a rush to introduce the more iconic elements like the Daily Bugle and JJJ, Mary-Jane and Gwen Stacy, Oscorp and the Green Goblin, probably admittedly with a view to not repeating itself Homecoming offers a much revised version of the Vulture, a younger Aunt May and a bunch of school friends who are totally unrecognisable from those who appear in the comic.

We don't really know the extent to which Spidey's mythology has been added to the MCU's rights database, how much the MCU actually has access to and so working creatively around.  Plus the walled garden approach to their various iterations means we're unlike to see Vincent D'ONofrio turn up at some future point as Kingpin who's another of Spidey's great antagonists.  

Was there too much MCU?  No.  Not at all.  If MARVEL finally have the chance to put Spiderman into their universe why wouldn't they take advantage and allow for his existence to be entirely absorbed into the mythology?  It might even be possible that one of the reasons SONY agreed to the deal was on the understanding that a major player like Iron Man would appear in the film to make it distinctive to their previous offerings.

One of the problems with the previous films was that his existence and that of the villains never quite sat well without being part of some larger universe filled with superhumans.  Spiderman by his nature, along with numerous other "street level" heroes, exists to contrast with the gods and their epic intergalactic battles.  Whenever he becomes involved, he is often the audience's way in to the madness.

Homecoming makes that contrast the key story point, of Peter learning that he's not old enough to join the big guys yet, that he should be content to be kid with extraordinary powers, dealing with neighbourhood problems, not to try and skip his development and to an extent training.  In all of the fight scenes he's clumsy.  He's yet to completely develop his skills.

One of the earlier 60s strips had a newly bitten Spiderman turning up at the Baxter Building attempting to become a member of the Fantastic Four.  He failed badly and it wasn't until many years later (barring a few What If? stories) that he had a chance to join that group, when he was older, wiser and ready.  The five film arc is pretty carefully mapped out from.

Homecoming has some huge moments for long terms fans of the MCU and the ongoing narrative.  The Avengers vacating the New York skyline -- who could they have possibly sold the tower to?  Plus Tony and Pepper are back together.  As we've discussed in the past I bloody love Gwyneth Paltrow and seeing her brief return to acting here was a real treat.  When they kissed I sighed.

That chemistry was one of the engines which made the Iron Man films work and seeing them back together is brilliant (however understandable it was that she didn't appear in Civil War given the tone of that film).  This brief scene is the MCU equivalent of the doorstep epilogue between Tim and Daisy at the end of the Spaced DVD documentary.  Hopefully we'll see more of this during Infinity War.

No comments:

Post a comment