I was obsessed with the Spider-Man cartoon as a child. I had to be home every day for Spider-Man (and then there’s the story about how my mom took me to Toys R Us to “Meet Spider-Man in person” and made her wait in line for three hours before deciding I was too scared to actually meet him). What I remember most about the cartoon was Peter moping at the local coffeeshop, or thinking to himself as he swung through the city, introspective moments that were cleanly eliminated from the film incarnations, but which made me love the character. I never actually read the comics. So that’s my history with the character, which has now come to fruition in this shocking movie review that will cause you to question everything you think you know. Or have no impact on you whatsoever.
First, this is very much a Marvel film, which is both bad and good. Good because they understand the character and know how to tell a story, bad because their formula is now so entrenched that it soon becomes quite apparent that nothing about it will be surprising. They definitely bring Spider-Man into the MCU, but I’m not sure what all that adds… and maybe it might have been nicer to see him struggling to deal with everything, including his sudden difference from his peers, on his own.
By the way, did you know that Marvel will make no money from the film itself? But it was worth it to them because the will benefit from the toys and merchandising, and being able to have Spider-Man in their films.
Peter now being a real teenager in high school and Tom Holland (who can convincingly seem young) in the role are the two things that work best. It’s an opportunity to have a teen superhero, which is interesting, but in execution just the flavor variation of this film; Doctor Strange is supernatural, Spider-Man is a teenager. The best thing about the film are small little moments that add pepper to Peter’s existence… little character flourishes or humorous touches… none of which I can remember right now.
What else? Michael Keaton is great and terrifying, and it’s too bad the movie didn’t find more to do with him. I’d have preferred a lot more interaction between the two of their interesting characters, and maybe a bit more relatable conflict than a big, bland action sequences and climax. Marisa Tomei as Aunt May is a wash. The younger supporting characters are good. I don’t really ever want to see Iron Man again, and Downey is as flip and bulletproof as ever. The thing that struck me about Wonder Woman is that they were able to find an emotional core to each scene, and thus the whole thing was involving and had stakes. This is an example of the opposite, scenes that go along and seem to contain emotions, but don’t inspire any and are forgotten as soon as they’re over.
The best, most accurate summation from another review: “Painfully adequate.”
Remember, I am saying that it is pretty good, despite all this. It’s just gone from being other versions that were variously successful, to being rebooted as a very, very familiar property. You have to admire what Marvel has done with their films in terms of creating a machine to continually print money, and emulate the experience of a comic book, but at the same time—comic books are largely all the same. They have applied their standard of quality to Spider-Man, and now it’s just a slightly different flavor of the same old Marvel movie.