When you find yourself rooting for the bad guys in a super-hero movie there might be a problem with your movie.
The film started out okay, largely because it was intertwined with the infinitely more enjoyable Captain America: Civil War. As we gradually left those events behind and focused on the daily life of Peter Parker I started to get a sinking feeling. A feeling that something…wasn’t quite right.
Batman/Bruce Wayne. Superman/Clark Kent. Spider-Man/Peter Parker.
In the comics the intriguing thing about these individuals is that despite the fact they are the same person they nonetheless represented two distinct personalities. They had a palpable duality that pushed you to believe (like the other characters) that these are indeed two separate individuals with their own unique way of seeing and interacting with the world.
One of the first things that nagged at me while watching this was that this was not the case for this particular Spider-man incarnation. Peter Parker was a fumbling, blubbering goof….Spider-man was a fumbling, blubbering goof. Perhaps this is a dynamic that the filmmakers thought they could ‘develop’ in subsequent films, but whatever the case, it was a sorely missing quality to the character and one I felt hurt the movie.
The second thing that bothered me was that the character just wasn’t that impressive from a physical standpoint. When in action, Sam Raimi’s Spider-man seemed exciting and dynamic while this one somehow managed to just be ‘blah’. I found myself more impressed with Keaton’s Vulture and Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker. Both of whom managed to convey an air of menace and bring some gravitas to the festivities. Bottom line, these guys were served a raw deal and were doing what they believed they had to do to right that wrong and earn a living. What they were doing was a crime, but one could easily summon sympathy for how the decision to commit said crimes came into being. These men are trying to support their families and loved ones. Peter Parker is bored, and looking for something cool to do. Not the ideal setup if you actually want someone to root for your good guy.
The third, and final strike for me was the infestation of Identity politics.
Peter’s high-school buds are all brown-folk, even his old nemesis Flash Thompson get’s a makeover as a smarmy Guatemalan fellow, also now-nerd played by Tony Revolori. Yes, his friends are brown, he can speak Spanish, he has the hots for a tall, skinny brown girl. If all this seems a tad uncommon for a white boy in queens…it’s because it is. Though it might not seem uncommon at all if Peter Parker were say half-black/Puerto Rican. Which is apparently what Miles Morales another Spider-man in the Marvel universe just happens to be.
Marvel has been really pushing a lot of Leftist agendas these days and a part of that agenda is “diversity”, which only really means: a lot of different looking people. Diversity in thought….not so much. But what I find more disgusting than trying to cram one’s agenda down your audiences throat is not having the balls to stand by your so-called convictions. If showing a bunch of brown people was really so important to Marvel then they should have just done the Miles Morales story-line. But they are cowards because they knew that would have been the straw to break the camels back so they served up Peter Parker as he originally was (more or less) and threw in a bunch of multi-colored accompaniments in hopes of both satiating the left and not completely pissing off the right. As a result they produced a disingenuous piece of work that lacked enough spice to stimulate anyone of discerning tastes’ palate.
I felt the same disgust for the X-men films who, also, claimed to wave the flag of tolerance toward those who are different but whose filmmakers found the idea of a 5′ 3″ man being anything other than a laughing stock and the notion that beings with super-powers might actually express and/or celebrate their identities by wearing colorful or unusual attire, i.e. costumes as spectacularly ludicrous.
Apparently tolerance and acceptance…has its limits.
I have my limits too.
Having revealed themselves as quasi-warriors for ethnic diversity…whatever that means, and more-so weaselly opportunists trying to straddle both sides of the fence, I had even less patience for the silly talking points uttered out of the mouths of the expendable multi-hued peanut gallery that encompassed Peter’s merry band “I don‘t want to celebrate something that was built by slaves” vomits Zendaya‘s **SPOILER ALERT***character later revealed to be MJ. Time and time again the diversity pandering served as an irritant, taking me out of the film to the point that by the time we are introduced to Michael Keaton’s interracial family it was all I could do to prevent myself from up-chucking all over my cushy reserved seat.
I love diversity, diversity in mind and body. But I despise agendas.
Someone…I don’t know if it was Marvel, Sony, or both decided to lace this movie thick with them. Unfortunately the film just isn’t strong enough to handle the added weight.
2 out of 5 stars
Spider-Man: Homecoming is playing in theaters now