I’m a little late to the party because Hollywood doesn’t invite me out to those fancy press screenings and red-carpet premieres (yet)! I had to see the movie in the theater like a regular schmuck. No offense.
We saw the movie yesterday, and after we got out, a friend text and asked what I thought. This was my answer:
Easily the best Spider-Man movie. Possibly among the best Marvel flicks. Keaton played a great villain, humor was on point. Action was killer and the climax was intense.
If you don’t want a long review, there ya go. If you’d like a little more, I’ll expand. Feel free to sing along if you know the words.
One thing I thought really worked for the movie: It’s not an origin story. Sure, I’ve read the interviews with producers and the director that call this an origin story of Spider-Man within the MCU. I guess so. Technically that’s true, but it didn’t feel at all like an origin story, and that worked incredibly well in the movie’s favor.
When you don’t have to detail a hero’s origin, you can spend time on other little things like developing a villain. The main complaint I hear about Marvel movies is that the villains are often very weak or underdeveloped. Or worse, they’re a copycat of the hero…like in Iron Man…or AntMan…or Dr. Strange… You get the idea. As a writer, I can tell you that’s actually a good tactic, especially in a 90 minute to 2 hour movie. You don’t want to over-complicate things, so you keep it simple by tying the villain’s origin in with the hero’s. Said complaints ensue.
With this movie not spending time on Spidey’s backstory, we get to develop Michael Keaton’s character (the guy with the wings you see in all the trailers). I’ve read other reviews that say Keaton gives us the best and most compelling villain in the MCU to date (with the possible exception of Loki), and ya know what? That’s true. The Vulture is not a carbon-copy of the hero, which makes the fight scenes more original and compelling than they would be if it was just two guys shooting webs at each other. On top of that, Keaton’s motivations and personal story make him compelling…because he isn’t just straight up evil.
I’m not going into any plot details here, don’t worry. I will, however, say that there are a couple turns in the plot that were nice.
The real origin story comes in Spider-Man’s suit. And that’s where a lot of humor comes in, as well. As you well know, Tony Stark gives young Parker a new high-tech suit, and maybe a third of the way into the movie, he starts to figure out a whole lot more of what the thing can do. Laughter ensues, quite on par with the original Iron Man and the robotic/suit antics that came about there. For me, the laughs in this were right up there with Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s not just the suit, either. The supporting characters were great, and there are some nice one-liners, as well.
What else? Action! If you read any interviews with the director, you may have seen that the intent was to keep the action more “grounded.” It came off that way. Ya know, as far as it can with someone in a giant wingsuit fighting a guy that shoots webbing. The “final battle” scene was incredible. It was so thrilling that my wife was squeezing my hand through much of it. It gets a little intense.
Before we move on, one more point to be made. Best. Spidey. Ever. We felt it a little in the brief appearance during Civil War, but it’s been amplified here ten-fold. You get Peter’s heart, his teenage angst. There’s a total duality and a balance of trying to do the right thing and impress people because you’re a teenager and you just want to be cool. Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield each brought something to the role when it was their turn at bat, but Tom Holland leaves them both in the dirt. Though, to be fair, I did feel a little Maguire in the performance, and at one point, with his hair messed up and his face strained and tense, Holland even looked like Maguire, which may have been an unintended Easter Egg in itself.
Honestly, I had such a great time in the theater with this movie, my only complaint upon leaving the theater was the Venom movie. Namely, that it won’t be tied to this new version of Spider-Man in any meaningful way.