18 July 2017

With Another Reboot Comes Great Responsibility

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It seems that these days Spider-Man reboots are a bit like people called Dave.. there's just so fucking many of them. After Sam Raimi's third Spider-Man threw so much shit at the wall that it ended up choking to death on the fumes of its own ineptitude, we got The Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker was okay, with the biggest problem being that he was playing a high schooler that looked old enough to be a Junior Manager at a struggling PR company. You could almost hear him saying, “Lose the 'The' in The Spider-Man; it's cleaner”. However the biggest problem of that rebooted series was that it seemed like it had almost no understanding of the franchise itself. Christopher Nolan's Batman movies worked so well because he made a film that was completely in tone with its title character. However The Amazing Spider-Man failed because rather than looking at Batman Begins and making a film that finally fit their character, they instead looked at Batman Begins and simply tried to make Batman fucking Begins.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man is one of the founding fathers of the comic book movie boom that we're currently experiencing and, as can be seen from his third entry, was kind of unaware of where it should be going. However we're now in a situation in which Marvel has created themselves one of the most intricate Universes ever put onto screen with storylines and characters appearing in and out of each other like a comic-con-themed Eyes Wide Shut-style fuck-a-thon. It was therefore decided between Marvel Studios, Sony, and Disney, to work out a deal that would allow Spider-Man into this world because he is essentially the crowning jewel of Marvel Comics, and fuck it.. they couldn't bollocks him up any more than Sony already had. He was briefly introduced in Captain America: Civil War which brilliantly side-stepped the possibility of another origin story, because fuck it.. do we really need to see Uncle Ben getting gunned down all over again? At this point, Uncle Ben is like that Will Ferrell character in Austin Powers who refuses to die. Had it happened for a third time I'd have been less expecting him to say, “With great power comes great responsibility”, than I would, “You shot me... You shot me right in the arm!”.

And so now we come to Spider-Man: Homecoming with the film's title telling you everything you could possibly need to know. It's a homecoming because Spider-Man is finally back at Marvel and it's a homecoming movie because, like all coming-of-age teen movies, it builds towards a homecoming dance. Fuck it, even Carrie ended with one of those dance things and that was about an unhinged psychic being bullied by a clump of hair on the top of John Travolta's weird fucking head. People bitch that there are too many comic book movies being released right now because people live sad and boring lives in which moaning about popular things is the only way to bring attention to their sad little existences. I've been going the gym for a little while now and it seems that old men like nothing more than to walk about in the buff, and for no real reason and so seeing old, grotty, cocks is now a part of my week. Yes, there's a lot of comic book movies released each year now, however like an old man's dick, they're all completely different. Logan was a violent western, Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2 was a sci-fi comedy, and Wonder Woman was a fantasy action set during World War One. By contrast, Spider-Man: Homecoming really is just a teen movie.. Peter has to balance his social life with his responsibilities, he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders, he fancies a girl that he's too nervous to talk to, and like all teenaged boys, he must hide the fact that he can now shoot some sticky gross stuff out of his body for fun.

This film predominantly takes place in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War and yet it actually begins a few years earlier in the aftermath of the original Avengers movie. Michael Keaton plays Adrian Toomes, a working class contractor that's been tasked with cleaning up New York until some Stark-associated Government twat-mongers turn up to steal his job. This essentially becomes the starting point for his transition into The Vulture in which he's not bitten by a radioactive bird, or shat on by a gamma infused pigeon.. he simply thinks 'Ah, fuck it'. Toomes begins to steal the alien technology that he was originally tasked with cleaning up and becomes an arms dealer to low-level criminals. He doesn't want to take over the world, he doesn't even want to be noticed by it, he just wants to make enough money to support his family and he's sick of living in a system in which opportunities are withheld exclusively for the rich. As we discover that our hard-earned tax money is being used to pay for politicians to spend their £300 lunch allowances on cocaine and prostitute binges, I'm sure we call all empathise with him. Sure he sells weapons, but as he points out himself.. unless Downey Jr still has a stash to sell from his wild days, how do we think Tony Stark could initially afford his Iron Man suit?

In essence, this is probably what makes Spider-Man: Homecoming so brilliant because as Toomes is trying to make something of himself, Spider-Man too is trying to become a member of The Avengers. Although I argued earlier that all comic book movies are different.. and I stand by that.. there is a tendency for them to get cosmic as they go forward. The next X-Men movie will be dealing with The Dark Phoenix story, Justice League will be dealing with the arrival of the alien Steppenwolf, and the next Avengers film will see a team up with the Guardians Of The Galaxy to fight the intergalactic despot Thanos. By contrast, Spider-Man: Homecoming looks down, instead of up, to deal with the average person and how a real 15 year old would react if they were given Spider-Man's powers. Parker doesn't spend his days fighting super-villains but simply returning stolen bicycles, doing back-flips for his fans, and essentially getting bored. This is as close to Freak And Geeks or the movies of John Hughes as it is Iron Man or Dr Strange, with the high school setting being almost more of a focus than anything else. When we hear that there's a villain in this movie called The Shocker, it could be the gangster with a giant electric fist or it could just be a jock that's bragging about his technique of putting two in the pink and one in the stink.

With this in mind I'd have to say that not only is Tom Holland's Parker now the definitive on screen Spider-Man, but with Keaton's relatability as Vulture, I think he may be my new favourite MCU villain. In fact, this may also now be my favourite film in the MCU overall thanks to how fun, full of heart, and genuinely believable it is. This might be a big studio movie, but in the way that it puts Peter and his life at the front and centre, it really does feel like a follow up to director Jon Watt's film; the small, indie, Amblin-inspired Cop Car. It's also a completely believable world with elements of the MCU scattered around to help build this universe. Recognise Parker's headmaster? He's a descendant of one of the Howling Commando's from Captain America: First Avenger, recognise that old bloke on the wall of the school? That's Howard Stark.. or maybe it's just the actor John Slattery and they're all just big fans of the show Mad Men. Then there's the new layers of the Spiderman world itself that are also being added in. Recognise that news reporter on television? That's Betty Brant, future love interest of Parker and assistant to J. Jonah Jameson. Any clues as to who Donald Glover might be playing and who his nephew is? Well, I'd hate to spoil everything but suffice to say you might not want to sit too close to a geek as they'll spend the entire movie nerdgasming all over the back of the seat in front.

Then of course and in keeping with the relatability of the lead hero and villain, there's the world building of our real life world. Parker goes to school in New York and yet in previous films all of the students were played by white people in their mid-fucking-30's. Now however they're all age appropriate and with a mix of races that represents planet Earth and not the white-washed wet dreams of a geeky Nazi. Which isn't to say that this film is perfect of course. Vulture's argument isn't given quite the weight that it could, the CG-fighting is less interesting than the characters' daily interactions, and there's a contrivance about two thirds in that could have destroyed the film if it hadn't then led to one of the tensest car rides since Blue Velvet's Frank Booth took Kyle Maclachlan for a “fucking joy ride”. However despite the importance of this franchise to three separate studios it felt to me like there was a complete lack of cynicism in this movie thanks to Marvel's simple and giddy excitement to have Spider-Man home in which he can finally be done right. To misquote Ferris Bueller, “This film is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up its ass, in two weeks you'd have a diamond”, except it's now two weeks later and all I can see is the fucking diamond. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.