I love Marvel. I always have. I’m a huge fan of the comics, of the films, of the TV series and the merchandise, going all the way back to a childhood obsession with X-Men, Daredevil and the underrated 1986 cinematic masterpiece that is Howard the Duck. Usually, I am in the cinema on opening day, or at least in opening week, of each new MCU or Sony release (or, as here, a combination of the two), but in the case of this one, I just couldn’t.
It was the end of Spider-Man: Far from Home that did this to me. I just hate a falsely accused storyline, and there is nothing more false than the accusation, made by the petty and mean-spirited Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhall), that it was Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who unleashed drone weapons on London and not, y’know, Mysterio himself. Then, the villain made things even worse by revealing Peter’s secret identity to the world, and I just—suffice it to say, this was not a story I was eager to see play out.
When I tell you that I paused this movie a good seventeen times in its first twenty minutes, in order to manage my emotions and prepare myself for yet more unfairness, believe that I am possibly underestimating the figure here. But once I allowed the movie to get going, I was entirely hooked, even though MAN Peter Parker is stupid here. Sure, he’s a teenager, but he’s supposed to be a genius – why do they have him making so many idiotic decisions?
The cameos are fun, and I liked the use of the multiverse here much better than I did in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (though not as much as I liked it in 2018’s animated classic, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). Unfortunately, I was spoiled about the presence of previous Spider-Men in the film, but I had managed to avoid mention of all of the other former Spiderverse appearances (not to mention Matt Murdock!), and I loved all of them. There are some particularly engaging conversations between all three Spider-Men that really make the film feel really special (both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are compelling, but Maguire’s oddly natural delivery is just excellent) and I loved the many, many Easter eggs throughout, both subtle and overt. (Even one to the aforementioned animated classic!) MCU Spidey’s closest confidantes, Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya), bring some enjoyable humour as well, and Dr. Strange – well, he’s there, and he’s kind of cool, but he does not take enough responsibility for his part in the film’s tragic events, to my mind.
For some reason, I decided to watch the 11-minute longer “Extended Edition” of this Spider-Man outing, despite my reservations about the plotline, and I am not sure which deleted scenes made it into this one, but none of them seem out of place or redundant. There is, of course, the expected climactic battle scene but, for me, it actually didn’t go on too long – rare, in any comic book or similar action film; they really love a lengthy and violent set piece to wrap things up, don’t they? – and even though I didn’t love the ending, I get why it had to happen, and I find I am not as reluctant to see the next MCU-sanctioned Sony Spider-Man movie (which will apparently not be out until at least 2024) as I was with this one.
In fact, I will probably be there opening day.
And now I kind of wish I had been with this one, too.
Based on the Marvel superhero Spider-Man, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Written by: Chris McKenna
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Benedict Wong, Thomas Haden-Church, Marisa Tomei
WHERE I WATCHED IT: Starz.