An emotionally invested enthusiast of pop culture in the guise of a Copywriter. Apathetic by design. Aesthetically offensive and eloquently candid. A sentimental heathen.

The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has always swing around under my radar. I did grew up with Raimi’s Spider-Man (yes, this is an age trap), but I could barely recall anything from it aside from Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker’s crying face. My only take away from Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man was, unsurprisingly, Dane DeHaan’s wonderful Harry Osborn. But you know what they say. In Kevin Feige we trust, because MCU rarely disappoint.

Life is hard enough when you’re trying to juggle everything in high school. It’s even harder when you’re the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. After being dragged into Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) was sure he’s ready for the big things. According to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau)… not so much.

So a teenage boy gotta do what he gotta do: proving that he’s up to the task by taking down a ring of high-tech weapon dealer led by Vulture (Michael Keaton), with the help of his trusty best friend slash guy in the chair, Ned (Jacob Batalon).

Standalone movies in MCU is always a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” kind of thing. It have to tie in to the larger universe, but still be wholesome enough to stand on its own without confusing casual moviegoers. And of course, it must focus on its titular character so we’ll look forward to their next outing both in another standalone or in the huge-and-long-awaited-crossover movie. Needless to say, it’s a tricky business. Spider-Man: Homecoming though, handles it surprisingly well.

The fact that this is Spider-Man, who have had two previous silver screen reincarnation, obviously helps. It liberated Jon Watts, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, and Erik Sommers from having to build a character introduction from scratch. Instead, they’re free to flung Peter Parker headfirst into his predicament as a teenage high schooler. The result is a true coming of age flick, lighthearted but still loudly echoes Spider-Man’s signature theme: the heavy burden of responsibility. Even without the whole superhero shenanigans, Homecoming would still hold as a story of how a teenage boy adamantly proves his worth to all of the adults who treated him with kid gloves. It’s a tested and true story, sure, but it is how they make it so socially and culturally relevant with current everyday life that makes it really worth watching.

And it’s more than just about the movie being ethnically and culturally diverse – which is such a welcomed sight. Not only because we actually need to see more of that, but also because that’s how life is: filled with people from various backgrounds with large range of looks. Homecoming works because it feels so familiar. Peter’s routine, how he struggles to still doing okay in school despite wanting to just get out of it and do other more useful (at least in his perspective) things, the problems in his love life and social life, even the small restaurants he and Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May frequents, they were all relatable. There were no high rise building or flamboyant life, no outer space kingdom or being time displaced, no political conspiracies or magical fights. It’s just, you know, life.

Best of all, though, is how life was also the reason behind Adrian Toomes’s descent into Vulture. It wasn’t blood thirst for revenge, or the needs to rule the world. It’s not even misplaced good intentions of making a city better. It was just… life. He didn’t exactly have ill intentions or noble cause. Maybe it wasn’t the right choice, but he did what he gotta did to provide and survive. Who’s to say we won’t make the same choice, given the same predicament? Unlike other MCU’s villain of the week, Adrian Toomes is actually one of us. And Michael Keaton exploited this trait so wonderfully, bringing to screen the best MCU’s villain since Loki. Vulture wasn’t a two dimensional bad guy, he was a wholesome character who had understandable motives and layers of personality. His pragmatism in life that came with age was the perfect foil for Peter Parker’s youthful enthusiasm and idealism.

Considering I’m a believer of “a movie is only as good as its antagonist”, Michael Keaton’s Vulture cemented Spider-Man: Homecoming’s status as an exemplary entertainment. Both of its protagonist and antagonist were charming and relatable in their own way, with enjoyable story that tactfully touched on how capitalism only benefits those who were already rich, along with the hard choices you’ve got to make in life. Continuing both Spider-Man’s legacy to always be successful in the box office and MCU’s winning streak, Homecoming was a fun outing with lots of surprises under its sleeves.

 

Director: Jon Watts. Writers: Jon Watts, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, & Erik Sommers. Released on: 5 July 2017. Casts: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Tony Revolori.

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