It's hard to believe this is the third iteration of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in only 15 years. But after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire's trilogy ended, Sony just had to make a reboot in order to keep the rights. But it was actually going pretty well. The two Andrew Garfield films weren't great, but they were good enough and they were setting up some pretty interesting stuff with the Sinister Six being on the way.
And then the deal between Sony and Marvel happened to share the film rights. At probably the worst time. Things were actually probably going to get pretty good in the Garfield reboot. But it all got canned, and everyone got *seriously* screwed over. All so we could put Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And put up yet *another* doggone iteration of the character. At that point, I was feeling pretty Spider-Manned out.
With all of that, this movie had no right to be any good. This movie probably should have crashed and burned, and Spider-Man should have been written out of Infinity War and put on the shelf or whatever for about 20 years to give everyone time to get over everything. And yet... it actually turned out fairly good.
They're quite fortunate in that their latest actor for the character--Tom Holland--has turned out to nail the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man quite well. But it also helps that the director and writers did him some justice too. They wrote in a lot of good humor and snark for Spider-Man. While I don't find Holland groundbreaking, he does enough to distinguish his performance of the character and not feel like a tired cliche.
This particular Spider-Man film with a rather lame title ("Homecoming?" Really?) takes place during Peter's sophomore year in high school, where he's trying all too hard to become a part of the Avengers after the events of Civil War, while Tony Stark/Iron Man just wants him to be a "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man." However, the appearance of goons in Spidey's neighborhood with way high-tech weapons leads him to investigate, leading him into conflict with... the Vulture (Michael Keaton). Or at least, an upgraded version of the Vulture with high-tech wings and stuff, since the original Vulture was too dumb for today's audiences.
There is a lot to like here. There's a whole lot of humor, and though they don't do the "Uncle Ben dies/"...comes great responsibility" backstory here, there is still growth for the character of Peter here, albeit of a different sort. Michael Keaton's performance helps the Vulture avoid being a forgettable villain--though a late plot twist regarding him doesn't hurt either. While I'm not sure how to feel about the "twist" in the final minutes regarding Zendaya's character Michelle, she's still quite amusing in the scenes she's actually in.
There's still some issues, though. The film does have way more emphasis on the "high school" part of Peter's life than previous films really did--and thus more of the cliches and cringing that comes with such things. Also, although director Jon Watts mostly did a good job, he does not know how to film an action scene. Virtually all the fights with the Vulture take place in the pitch dark with horrible lighting (save for the daytime ferry scene) so it's quite difficult to tell what's going on and there's a little bit of choppy editing too.
Also, it's still difficult to shake the feeling that this is the third Spider-Man iteration in 15 years. While this movie is good, it's not better than most of the other movies we've seen featuring the character over the years. While it's easy to enjoy the film in the moment, it's hard to shake that feeling when you think about it more.
But at the end of the day, it's a fun enough movie. Like many of the other Marvel movies, it relies on humor and lightheartedness for the majority of its runtime, and it works here. While it might be in the lower tier of MCU movies, that's still above average. Indeed, this movie is a lot better than it has any right to be. Maybe there is a place for Spider-Man in the MCU after all... even if I'm not completely happy about that.