Searching for a Real Working-Class Villain in 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'


#1

During a recent family visit, on one of those cold and damp November days that make everyone decide it's a good idea to have food delivered and maybe pass the day indoors, we watched Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel movies are usually a safe bet for an inoffensive crowd-pleaser. Safer, certainly, than any of the anime that I have on hand.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/gyjw5b/searching-for-a-real-working-class-villain-in-spider-man-homecoming

#2

I feel like the idea of bringing up a broader conflict but not saying anything particular about it was one of the few problems I had with Thor: Ragnarok. Spoilers for the movie ahead.

They talk a lot about refugees and running from your home to make a new home elsewhere without maybe commenting on what happens when you get there. More, though, I was kind of frustrated with how easily Odin’s character wasn’t really too tarnished when he was involved in all the bloodshed that he partially banned Hela for. Thor doesn’t care much that his dad was complicit in this and they kind hand-wave it away.


#3

I wrote a similar piece back when the film was released in theaters.


#4

Spoilers for the ending

Isn’t Peter’s refusal to accept Tony’s offer in the end motivated by his agreement with Toomes? That instead of moving on and joining the big time (for now), Peter chooses to remain a guy that looks after the neighborhood. He isn’t even comfortable high-swinging from skyscrapers like the countless montages you see in the five previous Spider-man movies. He remains a relatively low-key hero in his day to day, looking out for people the Avengers wouldn’t really take the time for.


#5

I wouldn’t say it was non-committal to that theme.

Hela tearing down the mural to reveal the actual sordid history that ended up building Asgard is a very direct invoking of western colonialism’s tendency towards revisionist histories. Even though Hela is the villain of the here-and-now, Odin’s refusal to own up to his past is what sets the events of the movie into motion, in terms of creating a heartless despot like Hela.

Thor looking up at the mural in the 3rd act plays a big part in his pivotal moment of realizing that the only way to resolve the sins borne from colonialism is to tear down the system that benefited it, here represented analogously as Asgard itself. The narrative also makes it clear that the current society of Asgard are not directly responsible for the corrupted system, but still benefit from it regardless.

It worked a lot better for me than Spider-Man Homecoming, which seemed to flirt with issues of working class struggles and the need to impress the ruling class in order to get ahead in life, but in which none of those themes tie into the main arc of Peter Parker or the film’s villain. It all seemed very toothless in a way that some of the worst Marvel movies tend to be.

Though I did like how Stark’s business was shown to dealing with these massive stockpiles of alien tech in huge warehouses for no real reason, which at least added to the analogous themes of upper-upper-class types being unapologetic wealth hoarders.


#6

Wait, so he becomes Hawkeye Vol. 4 Hawkeye? Godamn it, MCU.

Per the actual article: You know a guy who can go around in a semi cool fur collar like that can only actually be so blue-collar.


#7

I think the screenwriters must have sensed, even in its neutered take, that too much sympathy might lie with Toomes and his plight, which is why they included the murder/manslaughter scene with the first Shocker. A lot of things can be justified by circumstances, but not usually that.


#8

I enjoyed Homecoming a lot, but the entire time I was watching it I couldn’t help but think that it would’ve been so much easier for Toomes to file a lawsuit or NLRB complaint over the broken contract instead of immediately jumping the alien tech-powered gun into Full Supervillain territory. Tony Stark would most likely just throw some settlement money at that complaint to make the problem go away.


#9

And they say that a hero could save us. I’m not going to stand here and wait.


#10

You couldn’t have at least quoted the Sum 41 song on the Spider-Man soundtrack? Thanks, now I’m going to have Chad Kroeger’s stupid voice in my head all day. :nauseated_face:


#11

Rock, it’s what we’re all about, it’s what we live for. C’mon shout it out!

You can have a go at Sony trying to turn their big tent pole movies into any excuse to create albums but those Spiderman movies had some great songs on them and I hate Nickleback. Switchfoot’s Meant to Live from Spiderman 2 and Snow Patrol’s Signal Fires from 3 were both great too.