When Tom Holland donned the mask of Spider-Man for his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, the question remained: could Sony and Marvel could pull off yet another reboot of the character? But, the reviews for Spider-Man: Homecoming are now in, and True Believers can rest easy — critics are calling the new film truly “amazing.”
Generally speaking, critics are praising director Jon Watts’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for its characters, its inspiring tone, an authentic youthful energy, and a sense of reaffirmation for the possibilities of Marvel’s interconnected continuity. A few critics, such as Mashable critic Angie Han, are calling Homecoming the “best Spider-Man movie ever made.”
“A huge part of Homecoming’s appeal is that it lets Peter be – and feel – 15,” writes Han for Mashable. “I’ll leave it to actual kids to judge whether Watts gets the details right … But having once been that young myself, I can say with confidence that Watts nails the timeless cornerstones of adolescence: the crippling anxiety mixed with brash confidence, the life-or-death dimensions of a crush, the impatience to grow up.”
Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone echoes some of Han’s statements, praising Holland as “the perfect amount of empathetic, excitable and clueless” who will “make Peter Parker work now and for years to come.” Travers goes on to add:
“It’s no accident that Homecoming is the most fun when it’s flying by the seat of its pants. There’s a spontaneous charge to the film, a euphoric innocence, that makes it a much-needed antidote to stale franchise formula. Watts, whose 2015 indie film Cop Car expertly blended childhood curiosity and terror, has crafted the most audacious web-slinger adventure since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.”
Not every movie can be perfect, as Suana Polo of Polygon points out in her otherwise glowing review. Polo’s criticisms are mostly directed towards Peter’s relationship with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), who plays a crucial supporting role as Peter’s mentor. Polo calls their arc “the simplest” of the movie for its predictability.
“[I]t’s not bad, it’s just that they both play the roles you expected them to play going in,” Polo writes. She also criticizes Homecoming for a “shallow” dichotomy of blue-collar workers versus the wealthy elite, but Polo assures readers that neither issue truly hinders the movie “thanks to whip-quick plotting, expertly timed comedy and engaging performances all around.” To Polo, Homecoming is a “superhero by way of John Hughes”, and “an entirely unexpected — perhaps even vanishingly implausible — fresh start for the third Spider-Man franchise of the past fifteen years.”
Kristy Puchko of Comic Book Resources calls Spider-Man: Homecoming “one of the best MCU movies yet” but heaps particular praise on Michael Keaton’s villainous foil, Adrian Toomes, who suits up as the Vulture.
With “a backstory of relatable rage and disillusionment,” Puchko praises Keaton for being “the best MCU villain” since Loki. “He’s not as theatrical, or arguably as brazenly sexy as Tom Hiddleston’s fan-favorite. Yet Keaton brings that heated volatility that made him iconic in Batman, and channels into a rogue you can’t help but root for, just a bit.”
“Keaton proves there’s a place for nuance and complexity to be found in these larger-than-life villains. And by chiseling out this distinctive and dizzying performance, he helps Holland and Watts build the best Spider-Man movie the world has seen.”
David Ehrlich, who often expresses utter contempt for superhero movies, wrote in praise of Homecoming especially as a teen drama/comedy that just so happens to have the Avengers. In his review for IndieWire, Ehrlich writes:
“If only this could have been a John Hughes movie that was bit by a radioactive spider, and not a superhero story written by people who happen to be fans of Pretty in Pink. Still, the fact that Homecoming even tries to think outside of its shrink-wrapped box — even acknowledges that it’s in a box, and that there might be something worth seeing beyond its plastic walls — is a landmark moment for the MCU and its competitors. ‘Things are never gonna be the same now,’ Toomes says in the film’s very first line. Here’s hoping he’s a man of his word.”
Not every critic is enchanted, however. John DeFoe of The Hollywood Reporter wrote a negative review, calling Homecoming a “creative missetp” for Marvel and Sony.
“Satisfying from its day-of-the-dance prelude … all the way to its fiery, cathartic conclusion, this sequence hints at the film Homecoming might have been — had Marvel Studios execs and a half-dozen screenwriters not worked so hard to integrate Peter Parker into their money-minting world. But integrate they do, and the film wraps up with an ending recalling the incoherent, have-it-both-ways finale of Iron Man 3 — attempting to embrace the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” ethos while exploiting the rich-dude glitz afforded by Spidey’s new buddies. Hang in there, True Believers: Maybe it’ll get better the second time around.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7.