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Superhero movies did not always go with origin stories by default. It wasn't until the the success of Sam Raimi's 2002 Spider-Man that producers figured they'd found the winning formula, deciding to make nearly every Marvel character since then fit an origin story mold. If that movie financially succeeds, it was worth following the formula, even if it gets middling reviews from bored fans and critics. If that movie fails, the producers simply reboot the character with yet another origin story. So its quite a surprise that Marvel have, with Spider-Man: Homecoming, finally come around to the bold idea that it doesn't need to show Peter Parker once again getting bit by a spider, or his uncle gunned down in the street.
That's not the only departure from its precious formula. Marvel have finally listened to the criticism that its villains are lazy, forgettable and generic. Michael Keaton (here playing yet another birdman) brings the right mixture of ham and humanity to a blue collar villain who leads a small, motley gang of exotic arms dealers. The movie makes Tony Stark the real villain for much of the story, playing off of his natural arrogance and self-interest to the point that he spends most of the movie screwing over both the villain and Peter Parker.
As for Peter Parker, he's a refreshing hero. He's this wide eyed, superhero fanboy geek who wants nothing more than to hang out with his heroes - it's probably the closest I'll get to seeking Kamala Khan on the silver screen. He's also totally earnest, and exhibits none of that smart-ass smugness that has become the default superhero trait thanks to Joss Whedon. You actually want to get behind this guy, and feel bad for him when things (regularly) don't go his way.
The main issue with the film is during the action, as fight scenes get a bit too blurry and frenetic to be properly viewed. It's a shame because the villain does have a cool bird costume and they play out some interesting scenarios with it. There is also a bit of the issue with the women - Spiderman has always been rather dated in how it treats its romantic leads as either damsels in distress or ever-complaining downers. Homecoming goes out of its way to make its women look like geniuses, but they are still pretty much just an emotional and physical burden for Parker to deal with, rather than people involved in the story. At least Aunt May is more interesting this time around.
I feel like there is a general upward trend in the last few Marvel movies I've watched. They're learning to step away from a lazy formula, and this new diversity of story telling is as clear as ever in this film. It's absolutely worth a watch.
Calling Tony "the real villain of the story" seems unfair, especially considering that he's the one who ends up pulling Peter's fat out of the fryer when he screws up (twice), and what's probably his most important line - "If you're nothing without this suit, you shouldn't have it." - is firmly supported by the narrative (it's only after remembering this line that Peter is able to find the strength to free himself from the rubble).
I might be a bit hard on him, but Iron Man is basically the main obstacle for most of the movie, what with him not letting Parker in on anything, not showing any warmth or compassion to the kid, and basically treating him like shit whilst admitting he treats people like shit. The plot may embrace his philosophy and treats him as a (flawed) father figure, but it also sets him up as the ultimate formidable thing to overcome - not The Vulture.
Remember that Iron Man is still reeling from the damages that happened in Civil War so he might not have time to handle Peter all the time. It\'s a wonder he even managed to rekindle his relationship with Pepper at all. He didn\'t want to let Spider-Man in on something he thought is too dangerous for Peter. Granted, he could\'ve shown more attention to him, especially if he takes to comparing himself as Peter\'s father figure, but he\'s far from being a villain. He calls what he puts Peter through throughout the movie as a \'tough love\' that Peter needs in order to \'prove himself\'. A lot of mentors in fictions do that all the time. The Vulture, on the other hand, fits the villain part better, because as Peter says, even though he did what he did all for his family and colleagues, it\'s still a crime. Granted, Tony indirectly forced him out of job (which I don\'t think he really intended to happen), but Adrian still chooses the life of crime by himself, and he threatens to kill anyone, even Peter who\'s still a minor, if they get in his way. Tony Stark never did any of those things, and is Peter\'s ally whenever he is able. Peter wouldn\'t even have the advanced suit at all if Tony didn\'t see his potential, and tries to make him into a better hero than he is.
I didn't watch the movie with the mentality of Iron Man being the villain. I think it works, if I watch it a second time, I'll go in with that idea to see if I like it more, like Civil War, which is the best MCU movie for me in great part because of Stark as the villain.
What put me on that path was that Iron Man is also the guy who drove Vulture to a life of crime in the first place, what with him and Shield elbowing the cleaning operators out of business. I get the impression that probably happens a lot, seeing as how seemingly every villain Stark faces is someone he has pissed off through his own negligence.
It actually plays the MCU formula very straight. It\'s just not THE origin story.
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