Complaint Department – Spider-Man: Homecoming

If you’ve seen my Spider-Man: Homecoming review, I gave it an overly positive final verdict. Over time, I realized Homecoming is actually quite shallow. It’s better than Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 but defeating bad movies is different than becoming the best.

Walking out of it, something didn’t feel right. I was too distracted by what I liked to pinpoint what that was. I watched Spider-Man 2 again and it was a huge eye-opener as it revealed to me a personal fatal flaw. I may overcompare to the Raimi films but those understood something Homecoming didn’t.

I always saw Spider-Man as a tragic figure. Uncle Ben’s death may be old hat in pop culture, but I still find it compelling. A loved one dies as a result of your selfishness but you take from that moment a lesson that will forever haunt you, but at the same time drive you and guide you to help others with the gifts you were given. Or as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko closed Amazing Fantasy #15 with….

“And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power there must also come — great responsibility! And so a legend is born and a new name is added to the roster of those who make the world of fantasy the most exciting realm of all!”

Powerful stuff. I’d never equate that to what I saw in Homecoming. Did Peter learn something from misusing his powers? No. If anything, that was Tony not telling Peter he had the ferry covered with Iron Man suits generic FBI agents. Do I feel like I witnessed a legend? No. If Ant-Man’s not a legend, this Spider-Man certainly isn’t. Maybe to some, these elements are present, but they aren’t the catalyst Uncle Ben’s death was. I’m not asking them to spend a movie on the origin, but I’d like some concrete acknowledgement of why Peter does what he does. In Civil War, Peter alluded to what might be Uncle Ben’s death being on him, but with all the changes here, can you say with 100% certainty that’s what it was? “Helping the little guy” doesn’t cut it because that’s every hero. Spider-Man is more than that. Why so cryptic? “Everybody knows Spider-Man” isn’t an excuse to omit core elements of the character. It seems with each big screen iteration, nobody thinks they can top what’s been done well before so they don’t bother.

At no point do I feel like he and Aunt May lost an Uncle Ben less than a year ago. Aunt May in this movie is a punchline, a chauffeur, and an accessory. She exists and nothing more. The school dance preparation could’ve just as easily been Peter looking up tips online. In Spider-Man 2, Aunt May losing her house added to Peter’s troubles, he seeks forgiveness by admitting to her that Uncle Ben’s death was his fault, and her “I believe there’s a hero in all of us.” speech was meaningful and memorable. Homecoming Aunt May… larbs Peter?

Spider-Man shoulders his guilt and the weight of being a hero while maintaining his normal life. That’s not exclusive to him, but a lot of Homecoming’s situations resolve in a “so what?” fashion. He missed the decathlon, but they won anyway so nobody’s really mad. Why couldn’t they lose because he skipped? If this was a Raimi movie, you know they would’ve lost. Tony didn’t tell Peter his plans and takes the suit. Oh no! Back in my day, Peter’s lack of responsibility took his uncle. But no, Homecoming was better. I guess Peter should stop helping people with his “super strong motivations” like he did before he met Tony. Cue sad scenes until he realizes that.

I understand adaptations will have changes. You either go with it or walk away, but at what point does “It’s a different take” become an excuse? It’s the hand wave that justifies random changes and omissions. There are some things you just don’t change or leave out. Spider-Man’s tragedy and motivations are things I feel pretty strongly about. Homecoming is it’s own thing and my grievances are mine. I’ll probably like the next one if it’s consistent with Homecoming, but I want it to surpass Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man 2 isn’t flawless, but it resonates with me more. It had more heart and soul, unforgettable scenes, and is one of my favorite movies. I don’t know how many times I’d rewatch Homecoming. Without a second viewing, the more I think about it, the more it seems that over time it will fall to the wayside with the other okay Marvel films. They’re fun and enjoyable fluff but don’t enter the pantheon of groundbreaking classics and clearly aren’t trying to. Don’t get me wrong. Homecoming’s still an entertaining movie. There’s lots to like and I would still recommend it. However, if someone had no idea what Spider-Man was, Homecoming would not be my first choice to educate him/her.

At the end of the day, nobody’s right. Perhaps what I’m looking for just isn’t what Marvel Studios wants and I need to accept that. This Spider-Man isn’t a tragic figure because they’re going for lighthearted. Vague origin/motivations because maybe they’re not sure what they are or they don’t want to address them. We’ll see.

Regarding theme songs, this fits what they were going for with Homecoming. Courtesy of Spider-Man 2’s blooper reel.

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