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What the critics are saying about Spider-Man: Homecoming

The first reviews for Spider-Man: Homecoming are in, and it looks like critics are fans of Peter Parker's latest big-screen adventure. The movie, which continues to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after years as Sony's exclusive property, has been solidly praised for delivering an adventure that manages to reboot the franchise (again) while holding true to the classic character's colorful comics roots—and carving out its own spot in the ever-expanding MCU in the bargain. Here's what some top critics are saying about Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Rolling Stone

Longtime Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers called Holland "the best movie Spider-Man ever," saying he finds the childhood wonder in the role, and called the movie the "most audacious" film about the character since Spider-Man 2. "It's Holland who makes us care, not to mention that he did nearly 90 percent of the stunts," Travers argues. "Spider-Man soars because Holland gives him wings."

IndieWire

According to IndieWire's David Ehrlich, Homecoming's biggest strength is its ability to blend a John Hughes-style teen dramedy vibe with the MCU's superhero blockbuster style. "Homecoming works by allowing itself to become an actual genre film, the first of its ilk to recognize that superhero movies might be more interesting if they were also something else," wrote Ehrlich. "It's the first of its kind to appreciate that today's assembly-line blockbusters are neutered by their need to fit a unique brand into a one-size-fits-all action template." 

While Ehrlich criticized the film for falling back on superhero tropes, including "a numbingly dull final battle" and a series of barely-there female characters, including Marisa Tomei's Aunt May and Zendaya's Michelle, he did praise Marvel for letting "this story about a 15-year-old boy actually be a story about a 15-year-old boy." He was particularly a fan of the movie's first act, which situates the events of the past Avengers movies in a high school environment to hilarious effect.

Collider

Collider's Matt Goldberg says Homecoming offers arguably the best iteration of Spider-Man yet, saying it takes the character in a new direction by allowing him to actually be a kid. "Raimi's movies couldn't resist Peter seeing his powers as both a blessing and a curse, and the Marc Webb films are too busy weaving a conspiracy plot," he argues, "but Jon Watts' picture features a young hero desperate to prove himself and having a blast while doing it."

Goldberg wrote that the movie could best be described as "fun," saying it should keep viewers laughing throughout even though it isn't an outright comedy. He also particularly praised Holland's performance, saying that, while Maguire and Garfield were both fine in the character, Holland's personality and enthusiasm shine through. Overall, he called the movie "drastically different" from past Spider-Man movies—and definitely "for the better."

Variety

Variety's Owen Gleiberman was a little more critical of the movie's decision to make Peter into a typical teenager, saying that the movie is a little too down to earth to provide the excitement expected of superhero films. "To a degree, the film's novelty works, though with a qualifier: This Peter is such a normal, awkward dude that he's a touch innocuous," mused Gleiberman. "The closest the Marvel Universe has come to giving us a superhero who wouldn't look out of place on the Disney Channel."

The Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter critic John DeFore praised Holland's performance but was critical of the film as a whole, saying that it "smells of corporate strategy." Calling the film a "creative misstep" for Marvel, he reserved especially stinging criticism for Peter's new Tony Stark-gifted tech-heavy suit. "At their best, these augmentations refer cleverly to the hero's pulpy past (as with some little webbed wings) or provide nonsensical visual fun (finally, a technological explanation for the masked hero's expressive eyes)," he wrote. "But they're usually at their worst, with Spidey interacting incessantly with the same kind of artificial-intelligence assistant Iron Man has in his suit."

Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt gave the film a B+, calling it "loose and sweet and light on its feet," a difficult task to pull off amidst the constraints of the superhero genre. Greenblatt said that, although Spider-Man: Homecoming has a familiar setting and plot, it sets itself apart through its casting, including Marisa Tomei as a "boho-cool" version of Aunt May and Zendaya as the improbably attractive nerd Michelle. (She also notes that there are a few surprising cameos from the greater MCU.) 

Greenblatt also appreciated how grounded the story makes Peter, with the hero constantly being shocked by the superhero goings-on around him. However, she noted that this is a double-edged sword, as Peter can sometimes feel so normal that it makes him seem more like "an adorable puppy with special powers" than a big-screen hero. "Whether Watts can swing this boy into super manhood with his endearing humanity intact," she added, "is a question only time, and the next inevitable sequel, can tell."

USA Today

USA Today's Brian Truitt gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars, saying that, unlike most superhero films, the best moments come when Holland isn't suited up. "Director Jon Watts' film undoubtedly succeeds by making it about a boy rather than his wall-crawling alter ego," he wrote, while also praising the movie for adding nuance to the character and tying him into the MCU "without being annoying about it."

Truitt was a big fan of the high school set aspects of the film, saying it's there that Homecoming becomes "the perfect teen movie you never realized Marvel needed." However, he also notes that fans looking for traditional superhero action will still be happy with the film. Overall, though, he says that the movie perhaps owes more to John Hughes than it does to The Avengers, adding that it brings in a big twist at the perfect time to up the emotional stakes in both Peter's personal and superhero lives. 

Associated Press

The Associated Press' Lindsey Bahr praised Homecoming for casting teenagers as teenagers, particularly commending Holland for a performance that includes "the perfect amount of empathetic, excitable, and clueless." She also gave kudos to Holland's supporting cast, including Zendaya as Michelle, Laura Harrier as Peter's crush Liz, and Jacob Batalon as his "adorable breakout" best friend Ned. While she noted that it seems as though Robert Downey Jr. is phoning it in during his performances as Tony Stark, she still admits he "oozes charisma."

Bahr wrote that, while the film occasionally shoehorned its female characters and pushed its "Aunt May is hot now" bit a little too far, the film is overwhelmingly "a joy" and added, "It's light-hearted, smart, a little meta and the first Marvel film to really consider what it might be like for kids living in a world where superheroes are real."

The Wrap

The Wrap's Robert Abele was also a fan of the film, with the writer saying that the "novelty" of this new take on the character is its focus on the idea that, although Peter is a legitimate hero and a threat to big villains, he's also a 15-year-old boy. He said that Holland's casting helps to hammer this point home, moving the movie "firmly in[to] John Hughes territory." 

Abele said that this teen spirit makes the movie feel a bit like a sugar rush. "Usually you're on its hopped-up wavelength, but sometimes you're just taking a breather to admire the energy level," he wrote. While Abele criticized the film for at times feeling over the top, he did note that, in the end, it sets itself apart by being "a little more punchy, laugh-filled, and exciting than one might expect from a property that's already been given plenty of chances to succeed."

Mashable

Mashable's Angie Han says Homecoming is "a film about what it's been like to watch the MCU for the past ten years," calling it "genuinely unexpected" and remarkably fresh despite the fact that it's the third iteration of the character in 15 years. She was particularly a fan of Watts' handling of some of the aspects of adolescence, and she also commended the director and writers for giving even the smallest of characters lines that suggest a deeper history. (She was also enthralled by Keaton's Vulture, calling him "the best MCU movie villain since Loki.")

"This is a Peter Parker who wholeheartedly embraces the great responsibilities that come with great power," wrote Han. "He's just plain good in the way that Captain America is good, the way that Wonder Woman is good, and Tom Holland is so endearingly sincere in the role that it's easy to forget he's acting at all." Perhaps more importantly, Peter sets himself apart from the Captain Americas and Wonder Women of the world by being "relatable, rather than aspirational."