Spider-Man Homecoming's Missed Opportunity

Spider-Man Homecoming is the best Spider-Man film we've had yet. I will admit to being incredibly skeptical, if not downright angry that his character was shoehorned into Captain America: Civil War. But Tom Holland had me hooked before he even donned the costume in Civil War. And Homecoming is an entertaining and comfortably low-key MCU film worthy of the character. But there was one moment where I felt director Jon Watts missed a great opportunity. SPOILERS follow.

Arguably, the most iconic quote a comic book has ever produced is Uncle Ben's wisdom, "With great power comes great responsibility." It's the guiding philosophy for Peter Parker. However, in Homecoming, it applies somewhat tangentially to this iteration of Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire in 2002 quickly realized his full power whereas Tom Holland's Peter Parker is kept by mentor and father-figure Tony Stark on a leash. The Spider-Man suit which Stark provides Peter has a literal "training wheels" program built in. This forces Homecoming's Peter Parker to develop his power at a rate which Tony Stark feels will avoid any unnecessary collateral damage.

It's no surprise then that Peter feels inhibited. "I'm sick of Mr. Stark treating me like a kid" is a frequent lament as Parker desires to prove himself to the world and become an Avenger. While none of us moviegoers have superpowers, I'm sure many can relate to being in high school and feeling anxious to fast-forward our lives to graduation and making our own way in the world. (Side note - Homecoming functions very well as a coming of age movie audiences can relate to because of this way growing up is mirrored against becoming a fully developed superhero.) 

Feeling the desire to prove himself and get some action, Spider-Man goes out looking for crimes to stop. And he stumbles upon a big one with bank robbers using Avengers-level weapons. Spider-Man capably fights them, but in the scrap, one of the bad guy's guns goes off and destroys a local corner store. And the follow-up to that destruction is the missed opportunity I'm thinking of. 

Peter knew the owner of the store. They were on a first name basis, Peter was comfortable enough petting their cat, and it's clear that visiting it for lunch was a part of his routine, even if the owner did get a few cracks in about how good looking Aunt May is. So the fact that Peter was partially responsible for his business being destroyed should weigh heavily on his conscience. It could have been a moment to illustrate that actions have consequences and have the audience question whether Peter is responsible enough for the power he has.

Later in the film, Peter also causes more damage that Tony Stark has to clean up. Peter argues that the people are saved because of him. Tony on the other hands, makes him acknowledge the fact that people could have died just as easily. Perhaps that later exchange makes up for the lack of any guilt earlier, but it still felt like a great opportunity for Peter to reckon with the consequences of his actions. Peter has a good heart and I don't see him being so quick to dismiss the fact that his intervention destroyed a man's business. 

Homecoming really is a solid film, and I will revisit it many times over before even thinking of the previous Spider-Man films. I just felt this was one great learning moment for Peter Parker that was glossed over. The film's running time was 2 hours and 13 minutes though, and while it didn't have any pacing issues for me personally, the scene I felt missing might have been too much. Homecoming keeps the stakes small scale and Spider-Man street level. So seeing the guilt of destroying the business of a man he had a relationship with, however small, feels like a missed opportunity.