Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 have been the benchmark for most modern superhero movies. Even when Marvel Studios elevated the art form, Spider-Man 2 (2004) has pretty much stayed constant as one of the best comic book films of all time.
After that, however, Raimi failed to deliver with Spider-Man 3 and Sony decided to reboot the franchise. Marc Webb then gave us two under performing Amazing Spider-Man films, which once again led Sony to reboot the franchise. This time they partnered up with Marvel Studios, who are the kings and queens of making comic book movies.
I bring all that up for a very specific reason: it has been impossible to make a Spider-Man film that is anywhere near as good as Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. No matter what anyone says, we all know that Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming will be compared against it. And you know what? Watts delivered.
Homecoming is at least on par with Spider-Man 2 and may even be better. I have never been completely sold with Tobey Maguire’s take on Peter Parker, and despite Amazing Spider-Man’s weak plot, Andrew Garfield played a much better version of the character. Given his own film to star in after debuting in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland goes above and beyond both of them. He is Spider-Man in the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man.
Unlike all the other Marvel films, this one truly is a coming-of-age story. High school plays a huge part in this film, and that really sets it apart from all the other Marvel movies. Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like it could almost exist on its own despite having Tony Stark be a part of it. Like all the best Marvel movies, Homecoming tells its own story within the larger narrative. RDJ isn’t even in the movie that much, and Watts just has him in there for the perfect amount of time.
My hat is also off to Michael Keaton. Everyone knows that Marvel has a villain problem, but Keaton’s Vulture is probably the best villain that the studio has ever produced. He’s very relatable without losing his edge. He’s a working class villain, and does none of that grandstanding the usual Marvel villain does. And yet he has this quiet intensity that makes you feel like this is a man that is not to be reckoned with.
If there is anything that detracts from the movie, its that it is so stuffed with excellent side characters, but they don’t get enough time on screen. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a delight and far better than it had any right to be.