Filled to the brim with clever cameos and exciting Easter Eggs, Spider-Man: Homecoming really is the gift that keeps on giving. Indeed, it’s an absolute joy to watch our favorite wall-crawler grappling with his high school life, as well as being a superhero in the #MCU throughout the film’s run-time. However, there is one particularly important scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming that has caused something of a stir among moviegoers.
“I’m Liz’s Dad.”
Following his reckless assault upon the Vulture and co. on the Staten Island ferry, Peter has had to readjust to being a full-time student again, enabling him to reconnect with his friend Ned and even ask Liz out. Yet the scenes that everyone’s been talking about are the moments when our friendly neighborhood #SpiderMan (sans his costume) encounters Adrian Toomes on the night of the titular #homecoming dance.
Buoyed by his flourishing private life, it’s all going well for our hero until he knocks on Liz’s door and her dad — Toomes himself — answers. Sure, we've seen a villain turn out to be someone's father before, but this twist with the Vulture was highly unexpected. So, as Liz unwittingly alerts Toomes about Peter’s unusual, extra-curricular activities, the audience feels the same sort of powerlessness that Peter does, watching as Adrian hones in on the truth. But there's something in particular about the Vulture’s lingering menace that really gets under our skin in Spider-Man: Homecoming...
“This Is Where You Zip It! The Adult Is Talking!”
John Francis Daley – one of Homecoming’s writers – believes that these scenes work so well because:
“…[they take] the obvious tension of meeting the father of the girl that you have a crush on, and [multiply] it by 1,000, when you also realize he's the guy you've been trying to stop the whole time."
Indeed, the nervous humor derived from the dialogue really underscores the precariousness of the situation. For example, Liz’s hilarious “Don’t let him intimidate you,” line to Peter reminds us that one wrong move from Spidey could result in a fight to the death.
Director Jon Watts also heightens the drama of Peter’s confrontation with Toomes through contrast. Moments after Peter successfully asks Liz out, Watts treats us to a montage of Peter and Aunt May preparing him for the dance as soon as he arrives home, and it’s a sequence that could easily have come from a John Hughes movie. Emphasizing Peter’s youth and inexperience (he makes a mess of tying his tie), it’s a funny and upbeat series of shots accompanied by a punchy song straight from the 1980s. But all of that changes in the scene that follows with Toomes, whereby Watts opts for darker, murkier cinematography complete with lingering shots that increase the tension. Commentators have likened these scenes to something that we’d see in crime dramas or thriller rather than a teen superhero movie, which is very significant.
Throughout Homecoming, we are aware that Peter longs to be validated as a #superhero worthy of his grownup peers. We’ve seen many cases of Peter trying to do the right thing, but he still fails to grasp the full scope of what being an Avenger entails. Though he failed with the Staten Island Ferry and it clearly hit him hard, Peter hasn’t fully understood the dangerous, ugly side of that world until this car ride with Toomes. As their secret identities are revealed, the consequences of Peter’s heroism come back to bite him in a big way. Therefore Watt’s stylistic choices serve a huge narrative purpose, showing us just how out of his depth the young Spider-Man is.
Moreover, the harrowing “heart to heart” with Adrian leaves Peter dazed and fearful as he walks into the dance hall, as he recognizes the enormity of what has just happened; yet even so he forsakes Liz and rushes into action as Spider-Man, because he’s been reminded of his responsibility in an immediate and powerfully persuasive fashion. If he doesn’t act, the Vulture will acquire Stark’s weaponry and cause even more mayhem which is something that Peter cannot allow, regardless of what Stark and the Vulture have told him not to do. And it’s in these minutes where Peter has an epiphany.
If you were previously unaware, ‘Save it for Later’ by The English Beat is the song that plays in the 80s-style montage scene. Readers may wonder how that is relevant, yet director Jon Watts and co. have been rather clever with their song choices. Indeed, according to its writer Dave Wakeling, ‘Save it for Later’:
“...[ is] about not knowing anything... and grasping in the dark for your place in the world...”
And that’s the whole thrust of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Spider-Man may yearn for a place alongside Iron Man, but through these scenes (along with his stint beneath the rubble), Peter is put through a physical and emotional wringer, realizing that he’s neither been responsible or true to himself. Deep down, he now understands that Spider-Man is a far more compassionate kind of hero than one who only swings around saving the world. Instead of focusing on the big picture, Spidey is the kind of hero who looks out for the little guy first, and never gives up in the face of adversity.
All in all, these moments between Peter and Toomes go some way to re-contextualize their conflict, laying bare the flaws and ideologies of both the hero and the villain while proving to be a pivotal moment in their respective arcs. Michael Giacchino’s chilling score and two brilliant performances from #TomHolland and #MichaelKeaton, transform the trip to the homecoming dance into the most thrilling scene of Spider-Man: Homecoming. The stakes are raised to chillingly intimate heights, and it’s fascinating to watch how the power between these two rivals shifts in these nail-biting sequences. Plus, it also cuts to the core of how troublesome life is for Peter Parker; the guy really can’t catch a break!
Which was your favorite scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Head to the comments and let us know!