With Spider-Man: Homecoming out on Blu-Ray, I had a chance to rewatch it for the first time since seeing it in theaters. Overall, I was a huge fan of the movie and there were only a couple of things that annoyed me, so on my rewatch, I was curious to see if those few errors were more or less annoying than before.
They were the same—shocking—but that prompted me to give a rewrite a crack to fix these problems in what is mostly a 90% perfect movie for what they were going for.
I love nearly everything about this film, from the inclusion of Damage Control, the references to Aaron Davis and multiple Shocker identities, having The Tinkerer and even down to the comedic tone.
So with that being the framework, keep in mind that my goal here is always to change as little as possible to make the movie as great as possible, so it isn't a complete rehaul of every idea, which is why you won't see a full-on fan fiction script below.
With that being said, what are the problems I do think are present with Spider-Man: Homecoming?
Core Problem #1: The Multitude of Michelle and Liz Problems
These are somewhat tied together with many facets to unpack...
MJ Instead of MG
First things first, no, Michelle is not Mary Jane. Don't try to be cutesy by calling her MJ. You can't just strip absolutely everything from a character, at the last second call them that character's nickname, and have that be okay. Didn't these people watch what happened with The Dark Knight Rises trying to pass off John Blake as Robin, which just pissed people off in all ways?
The representatives of Mary Jane Watson are pretty standard: she is a Caucasian girl roughly around Peter's age with red hair who is out of his league beautiful and eventually the love of his life. Sometimes, you can play around with the specifics like whether or not they grew up together, if she's sassier or sweeter, etc.
There was some backlash about the casting of Zendaya when it comes to her race. Admittedly, I wasn't a fan of it, as I didn't see the reason to necessarily change this (even though I'm all for doing that with certain characters, a la Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury is infinitely better than the other incarnation and I prefer my Iris and Wally West to be black as well, and Tilda Swinton was a great Ancient One, and Heimdall is an improvement, and so on and so forth). My issue was more so that she doesn't have any of Mary Jane's traits because even though Zendaya is attractive, they downplay that entirely and make her a creepy SJW loner type with no friends who looks like she barely mustered up the energy to roll out of bed in the morning and throw on yesterday's sweats, rather than some bombshell that she could have easily pulled off. She's a completely different character in every possible way, so just let her be a different character.
Also, if you're going to go with the Michelle name, why is she Michelle Jones? Why isn't she Michele Gonzales? Michele is a character from the comics and a love interest that could have been explored that we haven't seen in the films yet, like Carlie Cooper. Or, perhaps, if you don't want to have her be a love interest, you could have made that character more of a lesser entity and still referenced previous material by casting a Middle Eastern girl and making her Indira Daimonji, who would make perfect sense being that type of friend to Peter in that circle of friends. For that matter, if you wanted to, you could have made that character Debra Whitman, too, but I get the attempt at diversity, so I'll bypass Whitman as she's typically just another white blonde girl and that should be reserved for Gwen Stacy.
So for now, let's just move forward with this in mind: Michelle Jones is not MJ in this script. Instead, she is Michele Gonzales, and there's nothing at all referencing Mary Jane Watson whatsoever.
Liz Isn't Liz
Liz is absolutely nothing like she's typically presented, either, and that extends once more to a difference in both appearance as well as characteristics.
As far as the race change goes, I'm okay with that. Spider-Man's series was really generic in how his love interests for the longest time were solely white girls, so hey, the way I see it, leave Mary Jane and Gwen alone and you can alter the rest if you want. If you want to make Betty Brant Asian, I'm all for it, although I also think it's dumb that we have Betty Brant and Glory Grant, but that's another whole issue.
Liz, to me, is almost always a bitchy type. She and Sally Avril and others are best utilized as a pain in the ass "popular cheerleader stereotype" kind of character. If you wanted to go with someone with the traits of Liz in this film, you could have swapped her name out for Indira or Debra, who are much more academic.
The Vulture's Daughter
This absolutely had to have been a Sony note, since we know for the longest time, they wanted Spider-Man 4 with Sam Raimi to be about Vulture and his daughter, who would have been either Black Cat or something called Vulturess.
Clearly, they wanted to do this very, very badly. We've seen this type of mentality by studios before with how they're getting their Venom spinoff film, or how for years, the Terminator franchise kept toying with the idea of turning John Connor into a Terminator only to go ahead and do that for Terminator Genisys, which was awful.
I don't absolutely 100% hate the idea of Vulture having a daughter that has ties to Peter Parker, but I hate how it was shoehorned in there. It didn't need to happen, and it even less so needed to be Liz Allen of all people.
Her name in the movie is actually Liz Toomes, making her even less of Liz Allen, and just a random ass character they created. Meanwhile, there actually IS a daughter for Vulture elsewhere, named Valeria Toomes....so if she doesn't act like Liz and isn't named Liz, why isn't she Valeria????
With that in mind, let's correct the problem in one of three ways:
Solution #1 = Valeria Toomes
Instead of Liz Allen being Liz Toomes, you just have Valeria Toomes and Michele Gonzales be these two girls.
Valeria is whatever you want her to be. She's popular, she's bitchy, she's nice, she's smart, it doesn't matter. She's there just to be an object of Peter's affection and a motivational tool for he and Vulture anyway in the film.
Once Vulture is sent to jail, Valeria and her mom move, just like what happens in this film.
Peter, the whole time, has been focused on Valeria and has been ignoring Michele, but hey, there are sequels to come, so maybe those two kids will totally hit it off now that Valeria is out of the way and we clearly don't have Gwen or MJ to step in.
Solution #2 = Merge Them
Vulture is the stepfather to Michele Gonzalez. There is no Valeria/Liz. She doesn't move when he's arrested. You explain her erratic behavior by having her grow up with a guy that is a criminal.
The end...but with more of an explanation with solution #3....
Solution #3 = Switcharoo
Liz Allen, played by someone who is closer to Tom Holland's age, and named Liz Allen instead of Liz Toomes, is a completely different character in the film. She's the super hot popular queen of the land that is actually really bitchy, but Peter is transfixed by her and doesn't see this. All the meanwhile, he's been ignoring this girl Michele Gonzales who is a little eccentric, but much nicer to him, and who might have a crush on Peter.
Instead of getting to go to the dance with Liz, Peter "settles" for going with Ned and Michele as a "group stag" type deal as friends.
This is when we get the reveal that Vulture is Michele's stepfather, which explains why she's so goddamn weird, and suddenly, the girl in the background of the film is now so much more important, which is a better reveal.
At the end of the movie, Toomes gets sent to prison, but he has a decent relationship with Peter who not only saved his life, but also Michele's, and he also kind of commends him for befriending her even though she's an oddball. She doesn't move. She stays in New York, but now she has a better support system in Ned and Peter.
Liz, on the other hand, continues being her bitchy self and the difference isn't in her character, but in how Peter views her character. It's a lesson in how these types of people in high school sometimes turn out to never change and you don't need to deal with them the rest of your life, which is a lesson very rarely taught in movies even though it's truthful (although in my school experience, we didn't really have stereotypical jocks and cheerleaders like that, so....)
Oh. Also, Michele in any incarnation has a brother, Vin, who can either be seen having issues with Peter when he comes to pick her up for the dance or there can just be a passing reference to her saying that Vin doesn't like Peter. No biggie, just fan service and continuity.
Core Problem #2: Normal School / Characters
This idea of Peter being in a gifted school makes sense to a certain degree, but it also flies in the face of a lot of what is tantamount to the Peter Parker story.
One of the most fundamental concepts of the Spider-Man franchise is that Peter is a guy that has horrible luck and is never given the credit he deserves. He struggles in every aspect, but he still manages to find a way to be optimistic for the future and spread some laughs.
The kid loses his parents, then loses his uncle due to a decision he makes, fights crime and gets called a menace, is always struggling for money, is always criticized for being a bad friend when he's the total opposite, etc. "Brilliant but lazy" despite that being as far away from the truth as possible, for instance.
Why is he in a school filled with his peers when he should be an outsider who isn't given the chance to succeed?
Peter should be in a regular high school with a regular Flash Thompson who is totally not Tony Revolori, but more of the ilk of, I don't know, every other incarnation of the character ever, where he's a bit of a meathead jock who picks on him but eventually grows to respect him, rather than some intellectual rival?
Nitpick: Flash should throw the party, not Liz/Valeria/Michele. Flash doesn't want Peter there, and only agrees to let him come if he can produce Spider-Man to make an appearance. When he doesn't, Flash calls him a loser and voila.
These teachers in the normal school should have more references to the comic book characters as well. Just browse the bible and you'll see tons of teachers he's had in various media and insert their names instead of making up even more random ones.
For that matter, include more of those side characters that you don't have to do much with, but just round out the supporting crew. Jason Ionello popping up made me go "hmmm wow", so let's see Sally Avril and Seymour O'Reilly and Kenny Kong and Robbie Robertson and whatnot all hanging out. Nobody gives a shit who Brian "Tiny" McKeever really is, but why not allude to him by having a real quick cameo of someone as a hall monitor and then credit them as the character? It doesn't take much! Maybe instead of Betty Brant being the girl working on the news program, it's Danika Hart, too, since that's more up her alley.
Also, what's up with this weird amalgamation of Edward "Ned" Leeds and Ganke Lee? If you're going to do that, give us some supplemental material that turns into the skid by naming him Edward Ganke Lee, aka Ned.
For that matter, Harry Osborn should have at least been a contact on Peter's phone as an Easter egg. You didn't need to make him a full character in this film, but he needs to be someone in Peter's life.
Miscellaneous Extra Flaws & Nitpicking
Basically, those big problems above are the things that would have saved this movie and made it better as a whole, but there are smaller things that could have been changed as well. I'm obviously not going to nitpick every little detail, but a few things that stand out to me are as follows:
- No Daily Bugle? –Like, at all??? Not even in the background?
- No Netflix References? – Marvel's film and television sides clearly have issues with each other, but it isn't hard at all to throw each other a bone. One line of dialogue will make fans go crazy if you have Peter nervously say something about "the devil guy in Hell's Kitchen" or how he's not some public persona like Luke Cage. They live in the same city. Reference something.
- Karen – The voice of the suit, nicknamed Karen, should be a reference to something in the comics, perhaps Madame Web instead.
- Avengers Tower – If this is being sold, it better be a conversion into the Baxter Building. If not, I'm going to be pissed.
- Washington Monument – This whole set piece felt like a contrived way to have a "save people" action scene at that point in the movie. It's out of place and it seems weird that more people can't connect the dots to Peter being Spider-Man. The decathlon should be closer to New York, perhaps upstate, to make it more convenient and easier and realistic.
- Timeline – Lots of confusion about when this film takes place. To avoid that, just say "present day" and "The Battle of New York" instead of giving out specific years.
- Spidey Sense - Um...where are you?