Thursday, December 23, 2021

Spider-man- No Way! (I expected it to feel this much like coming) Home!


I like to stay spoiler free for new film reviews when I can.

WOW!  That was crazy- awesome. It's not in competition with the Spider-verse films as I expected, because this is a different animal. it was more of a love letter to Spidey films in general than an examination of vastly different alternate realities. It satisfactorily closed elements of several franchises, and set up where the current franchise could  go next.

Outstandingly emotional on multiple levels.

Well, that's all I've got for spoiler free.

You've been warned.

If you haven't seen it, turn back now.

They brought back a large pile of heroes and villains to give massive amounts of both tribute and praise to the two previous Spider-Man franchises.

Being from totally different genres, though they inhabit the same world, Peter and Doctor Strange are almost always comedy gold in the comics. That relationship held here. Strange completely outclasses Spidey from a pure power standpoint, but because Peter always does things Doc would never expect, he puts him in his place sometimes.

For the first time, with his fantastic rogues gallery, bringing in a large number of villains into a later film worked perfectly. 

The reason was, they were all from the old films, meaning the movie didn't have to spend time defining and introducing the bad guys and showing their origins. Instead it could focus on character actions and interactions. It worked exceptionally well. There have already been fantastic interpretations of these characters. Now that the multiverse has been established, there was no need to re-define them for the team up.

The film fulfilled three very different objectives and succeeded in all of them.

1) Providing closure and key moments for the characters of the past two Spidey franchises.  Villains who redeemed themselves added more layers to their reasoning. However, they all got to show why they were the horrifying threats they were. Also, now that the MCU has gotten it's viewers used to more extreme powers, the gang could really cut loose.

2) It capped off Tom Holland's three films establishing them as an over-arching origin story for the character, where none of them had the specific "origin" carved out. It's not being bitten by the radioactive spider that makes Peter a super-hero, it's the journey he goes through. Fans were  saying Tony Stark became this version of Peter's Uncle Ben, but this film clearly placed Aunt May into that role. Plus, for the first time on screen, the quote matched the comic book, "With great power there must also come great responsibility.  It is a subtle but important difference. Sadly, we all knew immediately what it meant for the character once she said it. The difference is from a "show don't tell" aspect. We all got to see three movies worth of why Aunt May was not only the inspiration for responsibility in Peter, but also compassion and heroism.

With the magic spell at the end, Spidey's status quo as alone, low on cash, with a hand sewn suit  and tons of personal guilt is set in place. It was kind of strange since the story went out of its way to establish that the MCU Spidey has an advantage over the previous two Spider-men because of the support he gets from those around him and his team based activities. His bonds with MJ and Ned, his learning from Aunt May and Happy, and his membership in the Avengers defined him. Honestly, I think this was due to the possibility of Sony and Marvel splitting ways. Now that we know the partnership will continue for many more films, I can imagine multiple avenues to much of this being quickly reversed in upcoming adventures.

We saw at the end, although Happy didn't recognize Peter at all, he said he knew May through Spider-Man. People still remember connections to Spidey, which will allow him to rebuild relationships faster once they go that route. Though, I still fully expect MJ to figure it out alone again, show up at his door and give him such a smack.

3) It illustrated the rationale behind super heroes who don't kill, showing EVERY villain, even the cruelest and most controlling, could be redeemed.  

On the way down that road, it also showed why the bad guys are incredibly lucky that Spider-Man believes firmly that code. His unmatched reflexes mixed with his spider-sense and the ability to press an African elephant over his head, while wielding an adhesive strong enough to hold a house off the ground, make him an absolutely terrifying opponent when he's consumed by rage.

The highlights of the bad guys were the ones from the original two Raimi films, DaFoe's Green Goblin and Molina's Doc Ock. The first for unmitigated evil manipulation and intelligence, the second for tragedy, a core of decency and his bonds with Spidey,  Both of them had the advances in effects technology enhance how their powers were displayed.. Jamie Fox was a stand out as a conflicted character, listening to both hero and villain pep talks, before getting his upgrade. Sandman and Lizard were true to their previous appearances, had some good moments, but didn't steal the spotlight, or muddy the plot with over inclusion.

The scene with his Spider-Sense in the condo was brilliant for two reasons:  
A) It showed how powerful it is, and how it works outside of combat situations.
B) It showed he was right to trust Norman up until that point (and the others as well) because he could instantly tell who was sincere about wanting to help.

Once MCU Peter hit his lowest point in the story, the real emotions came into play with a couple of arrivals- his two "big brothers" (as that is the role they fulfilled) Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield.  Playing that scene for laughs after the darkest moment in the film helped keep the whole thing a positive experience.

It was a tribute to everything that has been fun and well executed about Spider-Man in movies for almost twenty years.  They worked together, showing what each was best at, and defending each other against past issues, physical, emotional and critic based.

One odd note:
I was thrilled to have J.K. Simmons back as J. Jonah Jameson...
But he's not really Jonah.  Yes, he's loud, hates Spider-man, and looks for ways to prove his negative opinions about web-head. 
But here he's a sensationalist with little integrity and a member of a disreputable website.
The thing that makes comic book (and Raimi movie) Jonah a great character is- underneath his blowhard jerkiness, he had journalistic integrity, and would fiercely protect people he cared about.

Those Netfix Daredevil seasons were so well done.
Additionally, Spidey/ Daredevil team ups are some of my favorites, and now, thanks to that short but awesome scene,  they can happen in films! 

I will have to be excited alone though as the three generations of women closest to me in my family dislike the character for odd reasons.
My mother, in spite of being a fan of almost every fictional courtroom drama ever made, has had a life long DC bias in comics, and "can't get interested in Matt" or his supporting cast.

My wife, in spite of previously reading and enjoying my Daredevil long box, has suddenly stopped liking any  new or (more oddly) reprint comics featuring old hornhead.

My daughter, in spite of never reading a Daredevil comic, doesn't like the character because, "His costume is ugly...the little horns are silly looking."

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