Spider-Man: Homecoming - Third Times The Charm
Spider-Man: Homecoming debuted at the domestic box office with a staggering $117 million. It is no doubt a success when compared to other similar movies, but what truly makes this movie's box office debut notable is the fact that Sony is selling a story audiences have just recently seen over and over again.
The third and last Tobey Maguire Spider-Man film came out in 2007 and Andrew Garfield's second Spider-Man film was released in 2013. So essentially only 4 years later and the same story is being sold to the masses. And, they are loving it!
In an industry where it is hard to sell even good original work, what made this movie such an anticipated movie? It mostly centers around two major factors: the Avengers connection and that the movie is really well made and entertaining.
The Avengers franchise and the individual character movies have been critically and commercially successful so when they introduced Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War it gave Tom Holland's Spider-Man a once in a lifetime introduction to Marvel's fanbase.
Spider-Man seems to be coming in a little late to the party, the other characters have been introduced many years ago. Yet, Spider-Man's transition into the Avenger's circle seems effortless because of the strategic pairing of old Avenger's footage with Spider-Man. Holy, sh-- was he there all along?
A huge built-in fanbase can definitely help a new movie as it did with Spiderman: Homecoming. But, that alone is not enough. The movie has to be actually good to be critically and commercially successful, which leads to this movie's second strong point: the updated manner in which the Spider-Man story is told.
The other Spider-Man movies started the film before Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider that leads him to receive his supernatural powers. The following scenes typically depict his life at home with his Aunt May and his uncle. The Uncle dies traditionally and this kick starts Peter Parker's quest for justice against evil doers. Spiderman: Homecoming decidedly tip toes around all that and starts the film instead when Parker has already had time to get used to his powers.
In one scene, Aunt May alludes briefly to something tragic that transpired in the past. From an outside-the-movie perspective we understand it to probably reference the Uncle's dying. But, we are never given any confirmation of this nor do we need it. This creative decision meant the movie did not drag and slowly built up to the meat of the story. Homecoming is well paced and consistently so because of small but meaningful creative decisions such as this one.
Spider-Man: Homecoming also reimagined how Aunt May should be represented. Aunt May is usually seen as an old silver-haired sweet lady who must be protected. In Homecoming, Aunt May is transformed into Aunt Bae, a hot Italian older (but not old) aunt and it worked! The scene in which Parker is speaking to the deli owner of his favorite sandwich shop and his aunt's attractiveness is brought up is hilarious.
Making Aunt May younger was additionally a strong strategic decision because Peter Parker became younger as well. Maguire's and Garfield's Spider-Man's were a few years older, but Holland's Spider-Man is 15 years old. Playing out Parker's naiveté in Homecoming was delightful because it was juxtaposed against the very experienced Ironman, and this dynamic worked as well between Parker and Aunt May. Spider-Man may be strong and able to fight off villains, but he is also just a kid.
As other big franchise's seem to be missing their mark with critics and movie goer's, Spider-Man: Homecoming proves audience fatigue should not be mistaken for fatigue with franchises when the real source of other underperforming franchise movies is poorly developed scripts and misguided direction.
While it is true that Spiderman: Homecoming benefited by it's connection with the rest of the Avenger's characters and movies, at the core of it's success lies an excellent script, direction, and casting, weaving a web that critics and movie-goers seem not to mind being caught in.
Image: Sony Pictures