Marvel has a lot riding on the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming. The cycle of movies about MCU’s heavyweights—the Thors, Iron Mans and Captain Americas of the world—will come to an end with the upcoming Infinity Wars movies. That means the studio needs to start grooming its next phase of heroes to ensure its box office supremacy going forward. We would argue, in fact, that Spider-Man is currently the most important of all the superheroes on Marvel’s roster.
We already knew that the studio’s earlier gamble of hiring the relatively unknown Tom Holland to play Peter Parker and his web-slinging alter ego was a slam dunk, thanks to Holland’s movie-stealing cameo in Captain America: Civil War. But what about the studio’s other big gamble, on an indie director named Jon Watts, whose obscure road thriller Cop Car barely made a dent when it was released in 2015? This was the guy Marvel was banking on to reintroduce its marquee hero who’s already been the subject of two big screen origin stories?
Yup. And based on the early reactions from those who’ve seen the film, Marvel has another slam dunk on its hands. As expected, critics once again gushed over Holland, with Entertainment Weekly’s Devan Coggan calling the 21-year-old British thesp “perfect” as Spidey.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is pure joy. Tom Holland is perfect: He’s having the time of his life, and it shows.— Devan Coggan (@devancoggan) June 24, 2017
But it’s the enthusiasm for the film as a whole that really stuns here. When we spoke to Watts last month (look for that interview ahead of the film’s July 7 release), he said that his main challenge and goal was to make the franchise feel fresh again, and to present Spider-Man to audiences in a way they hadn’t seen before. It looks like he succeeded, and then some.
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier singled out how unique it feels compared to its Marvel counterparts. “It has an innocence that differentiates it from the other MCU movies but plenty of fun and spectacle too,“ he wrote. Collider’s Steven Weintraub predicted that Homecoming is going to slay at the box office. “Absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED Spider-Man Homecoming. Funny. Filled with surprises,” he wrote. “Tons of fun. Going to make insane $ at box office.”
Spider-Man: Homecoming is a blast. It has an innocence that differentiates it from the other MCU movies but plenty of fun & spectacle too.— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) June 24, 2017
Absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED Spider-Man Homecoming. Funny. Filled with surprises. Tons of fun. Going to make insane $ at box office. pic.twitter.com/8cxce4OmHi— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) June 24, 2017
Also Spider-Man Homecoming has one of the best after the credits scenes yet. But not for the reason you’d expect. Trust me. Stay till end. pic.twitter.com/uTAf5rM7ga— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) June 24, 2017
Watts also told us that his film was heavily influenced by eighties director John Hughes’ coming-of-age high school films, and according to critics he absolutely nailed that tone. “Spider-Man Homecoming is a hilarious John Hughes-style high school movie disguised as a superhero film,” wrote Slash Film’s Peter Sciretta.
Spider-Man Homecoming is a hilarious John Hughes-style high school movie disguised as a superhero film. Second best spidey film.— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) June 24, 2017
Even former Batman Michael Keaton won praise for his heel turn as Spidey’s nemesis Vulture. “Michael Keaton gives us the best MCU movie villain since Loki. Maybe better,” wrote critic Kristy Pushko.
Michael Keaton gives us the best MCU movie villain since Loki. Maybe better. #SpiderManHomecoming— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) June 24, 2017
Naturally, a sequel for the film has already been green lit and is set to come out two months after the fourth Avengers movie. MCU mastermind Kevin Fiege told io9 that positioning Spider-Man as the centerpiece for the next phase of the MCU was always the plan.
“So much happens in [the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies], as you can imagine, and so much is affected by it that we felt what better person to hold your hand and lead you into the next incarnation of the MCU, in a grounded, realistic manner, than Peter Parker?” Fiege said. “So, coming out two months after Untitled Avengers, [that’s what] much of what the next Spider-Man film will be about.”
Fiege also revealed that while no scripts have been written, the general timeline for the Spider-Man films has already been mapped out, which each film expected to take place during a new school year. That means we’ll get to watch Peter Parker develop into a super hero in real time.
There’s no telling if and when Marvel will every fully retire its aging superheroes, but with Holland as Parker and Chadwick Boseman locked into the very promising-looking Black Panther, the fate of the studio (and the world) is in very good hands.