Goodbye, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield; hello, Tom Holland! Spider-Man has been rebooted once more, this time with an age-appropriate star, a Birdman-adjacent villain, and the weight of a cinematic universe behind it. Could Marvel’s latest superhero entry clear the hurdle of audience fatigue and bring new energy to an already-saturated genre? After seeing the movie, the Ringer staff answered that and more. (If you’re wondering: Yes, there are tons of spoilers below.)
1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’?
Amanda Dobbins: I like having fun at the movies!
Zach Kram: The last few Marvel movies have been tired and monotonous. Homecoming was a comparative delight and kept me smiling throughout.
Sean Yoo: As loyal as I am to Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, Tom Holland is the best iteration of the character in the history of its cinematic run.
Andrew Gruttadaro: Turns out movies are pretty good when you cast only good and funny actors, even to play the extras.
Alison Herman: Homecoming was Marvel embracing its destiny as a giant, nine-figure-budget-per-episode TV show, complete with backdoor pilots for quirkier, reduced-scale spinoffs. The lower the stakes for each installment, the longer this can go!
Charlotte Goddu: I didn’t particularly like superhero movies before, and now I do.
Donnie Kwak: If only real-life teenagers were like this.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Gruttadaro: The car ride to the homecoming dance after Peter realized he was dating the bad guy’s daughter. What a perfect allegory for a teen boy’s extreme anxiety!
Yoo: When you realize the Vulture is the father of Peter Parker’s high school crush. The scene — thanks to Michael Keaton’s performance — is ripe with tension, yet you can’t help but to burst out in laughter.
Goddu: I loved the opening home movie filmed by Peter. It introduces him as the most adorable puppy of a superhero and sets up the goofy-but-compelling tone of the whole film.
Uggetti: Peter and Toomes’s cold, hostile conversation in the car before Peter walks into the dance with his daughter as a date made for a perfectly tense moment, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beginning of the movie too. Peter’s amateur video diary gave us the memory refresh, the background, and the lead-up we needed, while also providing the perfect tone for the movie right away.
Kram: The forced wordplay and flat affect on the high school’s morning news show had a higher laughs-per-minute ratio than any other recent Marvel gag.
Kwak: I fully enjoyed all of the web-slinging action sequences (pro tip: see it in IMAX 3-D) with the exception of the final fight, which was a little anticlimatic. I also liked seeing Gwyneth for 30 seconds.
Herman: Not technically in the movie, but I was picturing this the whole time, so I’m sure it counts:
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Dobbins: The final airplane set piece. We were [holds up fingers an inch apart] this close to a superhero third act that made (relative) sense and used the logical amount of explosions. I believe in a future where we ("we") can get it right.
Gruttadaro: The climactic crash-landing on Coney Island, which once again proved that the ends of superhero movies are always terrible.
Herman: This is more wishful thinking than a legitimate gripe, but I do wish a Spider-Man movie had been more palpably New York–y. Tax credits are tax credits; still, there’s a real difference between showing Queens’ native son in his natural habitat, as Sam Raimi did, and marooning him on an Atlanta soundstage. (This is also a mild gripe about Marvel’s candy-colored, black-less house palette, which couldn’t do a lovably run-down bodega justice if it tried.)
Kwak: Peter’s buddy Ned played the "annoying friend" role a bit too well; I wanted him to STFU more often than not. He did, however, have the best line of the film: "I’m looking at … porn!"
Uggetti: Honestly, the teaser at the end of the wonderful credits was very underwhelming. That’s probably it.
Kram: Who decided that Jon Favreau’s inferiority complex was worth more screen time than Hannibal Buress?
4. Is ‘Spider-Man’ a movie about high school or a movie about superheroes?
Kram: The last hour made clear that it was a movie about superheroes, but Homecoming was at its best and most charming when it focused on high school.
Yoo: It’s clearly a movie about a superhero in high school, or is it a movie about a high schooler who also happens to be a superhero?
Goddu: It’s a movie about superheroes that shows that all superhero movies should be about high school. Superheroes are so much less annoying when they’re 15!
Kwak: It’s both, but the high school parts drew me in more — especially since Peter goes to a magnet school full of Asians. Very true to life, says this magnet-school alumnus.
Dobbins: It’s about both, which is why it works. I have no problem with a high school kid wanting to be a superhero! I have some reservations about the grown-ups.
Uggetti: Neither? I feel like the movie is about the kid underneath the suit, and his life at this moment when we catch him is split between wanting to be a superhero and also dealing with real life, which happens to be high school.
Herman: A cataclysmic event that puts your body through drastic and wildly unpredictable changes is nothing if not a metaphor for puberty. Spider-Man has always been the best superhero because his handlers know it.
5. Would you take Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to homecoming? Why or why not?
Gruttadaro: Nuh-uh. He’s way too flaky.
Kram: I’ll say this for Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3: His dance moves extended far beyond the T-Rex-arm side shuffle that Tom Holland employs in his homecoming-prep montage with Aunt May.
Goddu: Absolutely. He is very cute and also maybe he’d have to leave halfway through to do some superhero task and I could sneakily follow him and help!
Herman: I want to meet the person who watches that movie and is like, "Yes, I would love to get stood up by an awkward teenage boy who hasn’t yet learned how to make his mysterious disappearances seem debonair and not dickish."
Dobbins: Honestly can’t believe I had to wait five questions to yell TOM HOLLAND IS ADORABLE CAN YOU EVEN STAND IT???!!!!! He’s like a lil golden retriever puppy with comedic timing. I even caught myself feeling bad for Andrew Garfield halfway through this movie, because his Spider-Man is just getting retroactively worked. Tom Holland for student body president! He’s great.
6. Grade Michael Keaton’s performance as the Vulture/Adrian Toomes.
Kram: I assume everyone else will supply a Birdman joke, so I’ll just say he was a decent but not spectacular villain, which is more than most MCU baddies can boast.
Yoo: Michael Keaton gets an A for reprising his role as Birdman. Probably the best Marvel villain since Loki or the Winter Soldier.
Uggetti: B-minus. Believable enough to get me to root against him, but not believable enough to get me to sympathize with him, though I’m not sure if that was directly his fault. I wish we could have gotten more on his backstory and why he felt like he needs to do what he does.
Kwak: He is a capital G and is pretty much unimpeachable in my book. His beady eyes are appropriately villainous. I kinda wanted him to win.
Herman: Between Civil War and this, Marvel oughta be careful with handing self-aware critiques to actors too convincing for the franchise’s own good. That climactic speech pretty firmly convinced me that the Vulture’s got nothing on Tony Stark — so much so that I even ignored a dude with that house positioning himself as "the little guy."
Gruttadaro: I’ll give him a B-plus, even though I couldn’t see Blue-Collar Michael Keaton without thinking of when he played a maintenance man who got shot on his last day of work in 30 Rock’s 100th episode.
Dobbins: I am here for Michael Keaton in the Brandon Flowers feather jacket.
7. Finish the sentence: "The plot twist was …"
Gruttadaro: … genuinely surprising; maybe the first time a Marvel movie has actually made me feel something.
Uggetti: … crafted perfectly, because I sure as heck didn’t see it coming.
Kram: … surprising — for about a second, before fluctuating from awkward-funny to awkward-uncomfortable for the next 15 minutes.
Goddu: … very fun. I gasped.
Kwak: … ruined for me by Charlotte Goddu but I still enjoyed the way it played out. The car ride to homecoming was tense.
Dobbins: … surprising, but I’m a movie idiot.
Herman: … that a giant franchise can make itself even bigger by making its latest chapter feel mercifully smaller.
Yoo: … the best part of the movie.
8. Favorite member of Peter’s academic decathlon team (Zendaya, Liz, Ned, Flash)?
Uggetti: Zendaya killed this. All the way up to dropping the "MJ" hint, her detention sketches, quick-witted lines, and dry humor was a perfect counter to Peter’s eagerness, Ned’s goofiness, Flash’s douchiness, and Liz’s aura.
Yoo: Zendaya crushed every scene she was in, with her dry, sarcastic humor. Also, Martin Starr was fantastic.
Goddu: Zendaya. She was deadpan funny and extremely cool, and I’m very excited to see more of her.
Gruttadaro: Anyone who answers anything other than "Zendaya" is wrong.
Kwak: Has to be Daria — I mean, Zendaya. They tried to plain-Jane her but she was still the prettiest, coolest one.
Herman: As a former competitor who once terrorized the halls of the Chicago airport Hyatt, I’m recusing myself. Those trips are about team bonding, not picking favorites!
9. Rank the Spider-Men.
1. Maguire, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2
482. Maguire, Spider-Man 3
1. Tom Holland
2. Tobey Maguire
3. Danny DeVito in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
4–26. The Times Square Spider-Men
27. Andrew Garfield
1. Tom Holland
2. I don’t remember anyone else
10. Which character(s) should play a bigger role in the next Spider-Man film? Why?
Herman: I was frustrated by how blatantly Zendaya was there to set up her role in future installments rather than play a part in this one. We all know Peter and MJ are endgame, a fact that Homecoming capitalizes on with jokes and a red-herring love interest rather than fully establishing their dynamic for itself. Zendaya aced the handful of one-liners she got, but in a movie that was otherwise origin-light and relatively self-contained, her character was a regrettable outlier of "tune in next time!" wink-wink-nudge-nudging.
Uggetti: Zendaya is the easy answer, but I’m not going to lie, those two kids doing the morning show at Peter’s high school were delightfully awkward, and I could use more of that.
Yoo: Curious to see how Ned’s role grows as the guy behind the computer, because it feels like he was born to play that role.
Goddu: Since I already sung Zendaya’s praises: Marisa Tomei. Give Aunt May a superpower! Give her her own movie! I just want to hear her make more goofy puns about larb.
Kwak: Why do movies keep teasing us with Hannibal Buress but never give him anything to do? First Baywatch, now this. Let the man have the ball a little more. Marisa Tomei, too.
Gruttadaro: PLEASE tell me there’s a way to resurrect Ryan Atwood’s brother.