What You May Need to Know
1. Everyone scoffed when it was first announced back in 2007/2008, but here comes the sixteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first full-length outing for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, after his show-stealing introduction in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Next year will also see the release of Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 and Thor: Ragnarok.
2. The “Homecoming” title isn’t just a reference to the film’s high-school setting. It’s also a knowing nod to the fact that Marvel Studios has regained control of the character after the screen rights spent several so-so years in the hands of Sony Pictures. There we had Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire’s hit-and-miss trilogy (2002 – 2007) and two kind of pointless films with Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield (2012 – 2014).
3. Some may balk at the teenybopper Spidey, but really what would be the point in casting another smouldering, conflicted twenty-something and remaking the same film we’ve seen five times already? According to Marvel head-honcho Kevin Feige, the films of John Hughes are a strong influence on Homecoming. Make of that what you will.
4. The trailer works hard to make everyone know this is part of The Avengers franchise. There’s Robert Downey Jr’s presence, for one thing (and Jon Favreau lurking in the background, as he does in these movies since relinquishing directorial duties), the mask-wearing bank robbers, the brief shot from Civil War, etc. Holland is also set to appear in The Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
5. Michael Keaton making the most of his Birdman-based career renaissance by playing…wait a minute…Birdman? Not really, he’s something called The Vulture. Feige also let slip that the great Cate Blanchett has been cast as the villain in another upcoming Marvel film. They really do run the game at the moment.
7. Sixteen films later, and it’s generally understood that Marvel films are basically the same thing over and over. Colourful chemistry, witty dialogue, forgettable villains (sorry Michael) and a baffling CGI aerial climax. But it’s been box-office gold for Marvel (aka Disney), hence Star Wars following suit, along with DC Comics (showing us how NOT to do it); expect to see lots more “shared universes” in the coming years.
8. What it’s really about though, is getting bums on seats. Just like it did back in the 60s when television first exploded, the current golden age of TV has mostly been kicking cinema in the teeth. Studio bosses are keen to re-establish themselves as the prime purveyors of storytelling, so just as TV has been cherry picking cinematic elements for itself, cinema is taking tips from TV. Namely cliff-hanger/to-be-continued endings and episodic storytelling.
Verdict: Spidey-sense tingling .
Release date: July 7, 2017