The shadow of Raimi's 'Spider-Man' trilogy looms large in 'Homecoming'



I caught a screening of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" last week and was left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. It's not that Jon Watts' film isn't competent or watchable or even thrilling in spurts, but the shadow of Sam Raimi's original trilogy still looms large and haunts this film, just like it did with Marc Webb's two movies from a few years ago. As I've mentioned before, Tobey Maguire will always be my Spider-Man.

Tom Holland actually does a great job here, he's better than, previous Spidey, Andrew Garfield at capturing the rambunctious rebellious spirit of Peter Parker. This is a star-making performance. Choosing a much younger actor to play Spider-Man was the best decision Marvel and Sony could make, it brings a kind of spirited freshness the Webb movies didn't have. In fact, you can tell Marvel has really tried to distance itself from whatever traits the Raimi films had. That also does limit the scope of this film as I do believe Raimi found the best vision imaginable in "Spider-Man 2" and that ignoring some of the fascinating details he concocted in that movie about Spidey does a major disservice to "Homecoming."

Michael Keaton is also fantastic as the film's chief villain, Adrian Toomes aka Vulture. Every scene he's in makes the film's somewhat tamed stakes feel much more vitally important. And so, it's too bad Keaton's services are barely used until the final half hour or so of the film.



I liked the inclusion of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark, a Marvel character that is rarely used these days, but, whenever onscreen, reminds you how unique and different those "Iron Man" movies really are, especially the first and third chapters. The snarky chemistry he has with Holland here is a clear highlight, they feed off of each other's personalities to create a dysfunctional bond that has many laughs.

Homecoming's portrayal of high school life has a Saturday morning television vibe that does work. All of this to say that if it was Watts, Feig and company's goal to distance the webslinger away from previous installments, it has done just that. The Raimi Spider-Man movies are still the definitive portrayal of the web-slinger on screen. Hell, I also liked "Spider-Man 3," flaws and all. Sure, it overreached a bit with its running time and the lack of Venom, but it certainly retained the heart of the first two movies, something that the money-grabbing Marc Webb movies had none of. Webb's career has been in limbo ever since those movies.


"Spider-Man 2" may still be the most perfect superhero movie of the Marvel universe, Raimi is the guy that came closest to pouring Stan Lee's brains onto the screen. My favorite thing about Raimi's Spider-Man movies? They're the only Superhero movies I can think of that really indulged in the sheer unadorned fun, goofiness of the comic books. They had a campiness about them which felt genuine and to which Watts, more or less, tries to attain here. The problem is that, this being the third cinematic attempt at Spidey, its been overdone and it doesn't help Raimi produced the very peak of it in 2004.
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