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The ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Exit Survey

The Ringer staff tackles all the tough questions about the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Though, no one can quite answer why there are so many different iterations of Spider-Man.)

(Marvel Studios)
(Marvel Studios)

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.

Paolo Uggetti:

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.

(Marvel Studios)
(Marvel Studios)

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.

Herman:
1. Maguire, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2
2. Holland
3. Garfield

482. Maguire, Spider-Man 3

Gruttadaro:
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

Dobbins:
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.