Isn’t 2017 turning out to be a stellar year for comic book movies? Both Wonder Woman and Logan have already provided powerful scenes, such as Diana’s empowering, storming of No Man's Land or Logan's overwhelmingly sad death, which are so momentous that they will surely be revered for years to come. And although Spider-Man: Homecoming can’t quite match those two films in terms of raw power, Jon Watts' superheroic debut still manages to feature a standout scene in its final act that fans will surely be talking about for years to come.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming!
Spider-Man: Between A Rock And A Hard Place
The scene in question occurs at the start of Spider-Man’s final confrontation with #MichaelKeaton’s Vulture in his warehouse. Following a brief conversation with our favorite wall-crawler, Vulture proceeds to drop the building’s ceiling upon him. Trapped beneath tons of debris and with none of Tony Stark’s (#RobertDowneyJr) gadgets at hand, a panicked Peter calls out for help, but when none arrives, hopelessness sets in — until he notices his mask in the puddle of water in front of him. Half-submerged in water next to his reflection, we see the iconic split view of his masked and unmasked face as Stark’s admonishing words from the ferry scene come back to him:
“If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”
With that memory renewing his energy, Peter grits his teeth and puts his super strength and indomitable will to good use, lifting the heaps of rock off his body and freeing himself so that he can pursue and apprehend the Vulture. It’s a moment that will leave many Spider-Man fans fist-pumping, emotional, and fully satisfied, but some might be wondering what’s really so special about it.
'Can't You Just Be A Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man?'
Well, first off, fans will instantly recognize that the image of a battered and bruised Peter Parker pushing debris off him was been directly lifted from Spider-Man’s comic book past. Indeed, Issue #33 of the Amazing Spider-Man series saw Peter in the same position during his battle with Doctor Octopus/the Master Planner, in a storyline that saw Spider-Man in possession of a rare isotope that could save Aunt May’s life. It’s an iconic moment that’s been revisited in many comics and #SpiderMan adaptations, so it’s brilliant that Spider-Man: Homecoming similarly pays tribute to one of its hero’s most famous stories. Sure, the film sees the scenario switched up somewhat, however, this doesn’t lessen the effect of this thematically rich moment, which charts a pivotal moment in Peter’s career as a #superhero.
Certainly, #Homecoming revolves around Peter’s increasingly daring attempts to win Iron Man’s respect and join the Avengers as a permanent member of the team. He becomes so enamored with the idea of escaping to fame and international heroism that he even tells his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) that he is “so” above high school level, thanks to the life that being Spider-Man affords him. However, when at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark offers him a place in the Avengers and a new suit with plenty of gizmos, Peter turns him down. Why? Well because in these moments beneath the rubble, Peter truly recognizes what kind of person he wants to be.
If Spider-Man had accepted his place alongside Iron Man, we know that he would obviously have done plenty of good down the line with his gifts. But an international superhero like Iron Man? We know that that’s not what Spidey is about; at the heart of every Spider-Man story is the struggle to balance his heroism with his everyday life. Spider-Man is undoubtedly the most popular superhero in the world but that's because he is so relatable; readers and cinema goers see themselves reflected in his underdog status. At the end of the day, without his powers and his intellect, Peter is a flawed but good guy, merely trying to save who he can in addition to his relationship and monetary problems, and just getting his homework done. But if you take that away, well, what then?
In the Vulture’s dark and dingy warehouse, Peter could have quit then and there, but through this image in the water, we see Peter’s choice before him: The hero or the every-man? The power or the responsibility? And in a triumphant gesture, Spider-Man embraces it all. It’s very telling that in those crucial moments beneath the rubble, Peter isn’t called into action by threats against Aunt May, Liz, or civilians, nor is he heartened by friends, advice, or assisted by any gadgets.The rocks move out of Peter's sheer will to do good, not for recognition but because Spider-Man knows it’s the right thing to do, plain and simple.
'If This Be My Destiny...!'
While we’ve seen many powerful and heroic moments in Spider-Man’s previous films this sort of poignant examination of Spider-Man in Homecoming is unique, is a subtle re-examination of our hero and his origin story in the context of the #MarvelCinematicUniverse. As we know, the possibilities of this deal between Sony and Marvel are endless, yet cleverly, Homecoming reminds us that Peter is the protector of New York first and foremost, as he puts those already hard-learned lessons of power and responsibility into practice.
That’s not to say that he can’t or shouldn't help save the world from Thanos (Josh Brolin) alongside everyone else in #AvengersInfinityWar, but after all of the cosmic battling the bricks and mortar of New York and Queens are his true stomping ground. Spider-Man is a merciful and kind friendly neighborhood hero who, in his own words, just wants to look out for the little guy without wealth or fame as reward. As such, this scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming encapsulates everything about his character in one brilliantly shot and acted scene.
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