By Travis Trombley
As I said in my general review, Spider-Man: Homecoming represents yet another Marvel twist on an established genre. They’ve done Shakespeare, spy-thriller, heist flick, and space opera. Now we can add high school drama to the mix. With this newest iteration, Spidey’s DNA is as influenced by early-seasons of Buffy and John Hughes flicks as much as it is by a mutated spider.
To honor his inspiration, director Jon Watts even treats viewers to a parallel clip of Ferris Bueller's Day Off while Spider-Man hops and ploughs through backyards to catch a couple goons. But whereas Ferris bolts home in style, even taking a minute to flirt, Spidey essentially fumbles through the whole thing, knocking down tree-houses and crashing through sheds. It’s an apt metaphor in the sense that Homecoming mines Hughes’ films for themes and beats, but it stumbles a bit in its recreation. Whereas Hughes provided his characters with discernible, realistic arcs, Homecoming gets confused about what it wants ‘growing up’ to look like for the young superhero. It asks him to be Cameron, but treats him like Ferris. In other words, it can’t decide how Peter should change by the end, but yet assumes that he does.
Intro to Character Change and Theme
Coming of age narratives seems ripe for such bold metamorphoses by nature of their definition. Kids grow up, and they usually do so in increments. Sometimes those increments blend so seamlessly together that we barely notice the transition, but other times passage from one point to the next requires a wall to be leapt over or broken through. We gravitate towards these stories because getting past that wall requires a moment of courage - an act of forgiveness, trust, acceptance, or bravery, perhaps. This idea of character development defines Joseph Campbell's famous Hero Journey. It’s why we love origin stories - we want to see someone turn pain into purpose.