“Women and people of color exist at the margins of Homecoming, peeking in but never developing corporeal form.”
Title: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Director: Jon Watts 👨🏼🇺🇸
Writers: Jon Watts 👨🏼🇺🇸, Jonathan Goldstein 👨🏼🇺🇸, John Francis Daley 👨🏼🇺🇸, Christopher Ford 👨🏼🇺🇸, Chris McKenna 👨🏼🇺🇸, and Erik Sommers 👨🏼🇺🇸
Reviewed by Li 👩🏻🇺🇸
Packed with action but entirely forgettable. Spider-Man: Homecoming deemphasizes its one unique attribute—its likeness to a 1980s John Hughes movie. I found myself more interested in the relationships between Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), or among the Academic Decathlon team than any of the rote superhero arcs that turn this film into yet another cog in the Marvel machine. Yawn.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? YES (barely)
GradeMyMovie.com Assessment: 20% of creative decision-makers were female.
Homecoming only sees women exchange words about something not involving a man once, when Liz (Laura Harrier), the leader of the Academic Decathlon team, poses a question to another female member. This poor showing is indicative of the overall indifference to female storylines in Homecoming, which drops women into cliched roles as a love interests, caregiving mother figures, and a robotic female assistant which inhabits Peter’s new Spidey suit. This disembodied robotic voice makes up about half the female dialogue in this film, which sees just over 10mins among a running time of 2hr13mins.
Specifically, we see a voice split of 87.7% male vs 12.3% female (data captured using arementalkingtoomuch.com):
On the plus side, the women we do see are pretty cool. Both Liz and Michelle (Zendaya) sidestep tropes, pushing the constraints of their ultra-flat characterizations through strong acting. Ultimately, however, the sheer lack of screen time for these women negates a higher score in this category.
GradeMyMovie.com Assessment: 4% of creative decision-makers were POC.
Homecoming fares well here, largely due to a visible effort to include racial minorities. This is key considering the film’s setting of Queens, a borough in New York City famous for its racial diversity. In fact, by 2012 census estimates the ethnic breakdown of this borough was 27.2% white, 24.8% Asian, 20.9% black, 12.9% other, and 2.7% mixed-race. Meanwhile, 27.9% identified as Hispanic or Latinx.
This melting pot is hinted at onscreen through support roles such as Peter’s best friend Ned (whose actor is Filipino-American), Peter’s love interest Liz (whose actor is biracial black and white), fellow decathlon member Michelle (whose actor is also biracial black and white), or school antagonist Flash (Tony Revolori who is Guatemalan-American). A nice touch includes a scene with Liz’s parents, clearly depicted as an interracial couple.
On the flipside, I didn’t love Ned’s characterization. He easily falls into the “nerdy Asian” stereotype, dropping more obvious tells as wearing glasses or having an accent, but still embodying its core pitfall of showing him drooling over women while never being considered by them romantically. If Peter is meant to occupy the same social rung as Ned, how does he manage to catch the eye of the most popular girl in school while Ned gets ditched at parties and laughed at for wearing a bad fedora?
Mediaversity Grade: C 3.25/5
Homecoming is yet another MCU title content to portray the world as the plaything of straight white men. Women and people of color exist at the margins, peeking in but never developing corporeal form.