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A MOVIE A DAY #3 – Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

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


READING THE TBR, DAY 205: Mystery Men (2011) by David Liss

“Introducing Marvel’s all-new, never-before-seen heroes of the 1930s!” So begins the blurb of this comic, and is the reason that I bought it. I didn’t quite understand how there were these long-lost characters from the 30s that had gone unseen for so many decades, especially since Marvel Comics was not even founded until 1939, which proved to me, yet again, that I am not nearly as smart as I sometimes think I am.

Because of course these are not characters from the 1930s. They are characters set in the 1930s.

In my defense, that is a very deceptive sentence.

The adventure depicted in this pulp-esque noir-ish mini-series follows a fairly typical dark thriller plot that could easily have been written in the time in which it is set — there’s an innocent man framed for murder, corrupt politicians, organized crime run riot and people wearing hats. The Lindbergh baby makes an appearance, and a few other hallmarks of the era, and it’s all pretty oppressive and bleak, because damn, the 30s were, apparently. It wasn’t called the Depression for nothing.

Our superheroes — five in all — are conflicted and suffering from every societal issue of the time, from racism to sexism to daddy issues (okay, so those are pretty timeless issues, unfortunately), and also must battle against monsters, because yeah. When you think noir, obviously the supernatural is the next thought that comes to mind.

I really enjoyed the Aviatrix (whose sister was murdered, and who is the possessor of a pair of Falcon-style mechanical wings for no apparent reason) as a nascent superheroine, and the Surgeon’s dark and creepy one-liners genuinely made me wonder if he was being set up as our villain instead. (“When I’m finished cutting away, they won’t recognize you.”) I always hate an innocent-patsy-on-the-run tale, so that wasn’t my favourite, but that aspect of the story did add events a certain tension throughout.

And the art — which is fantastic — made up for a lot.

In short, this is a pretty fun pulpy ride, enough so that I kind of wish the aforementioned superheroes, along with the equally troubled Operator, Revenant and Achilles, really had been created in the 1930s, after all. I would have loved to see the reboot. 


TBR DAY 205: Mystery Men by David Liss; illustrated by Patrick Zircher
GENRE: Marvel, Comics, Superheroes
TIME ON THE TBR: ~6 years. 
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur Melbourne.
KEEP: Why not?