I approach movies differently if I intend to review them for an audience. When I’m invited to a critic’s screening, I bring a notebook and I approach the story as though I would any other: with intent and an analytical eye. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” wasn’t such a film. As I buckled in to watch the third incarnation of the superhero I loved the most as a kid, I had already hit the off switch in the analytical portion of my brain, added vodka to muffle the last remaining bits of political analysis and foreign policy debate that’s constantly running through my mind thanks to being an active participant in the modern era’s never ending news cycle, and got ready for a movie I knew I’d like before it even started.
How did I know? Because I’m a fanboy nerd, and in my book, it’s pretty tough to ruin a vodka filled evening full of masked vigilantes or Michael Keaton – and on a great night, you get both. Usually, that means a romp back to the late 80’s, when Jack Nicholson was still known as the best Joker to ever live, and a comedian was playing a Batman that killed almost as many thugs as Batfleck.
I was, however, aware that this new Spider-Man movie represented an unnatural marriage between the Marvel Cinematic Universe, home to characters like Captain America and Iron Man, and Sony, a company that contractually has to keep making Spider-Man movies forever lest they be forced to surrender the licensing for their headline hero back to the Disney overlords that are swallowing up (and making competent films out of) just about everything great we remember from childhood. I did wonder what influence Sony might have on the overall story telling of the film, or its depiction of the characters we’ve come to know so well over the years, like Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.