Massive spoilers follow with my thoughts.
I really enjoyed it. As a huge Spider-man fan, I’m hardly exhausted. In fact, if they rebooted Spider-man every year I’d happily watch it. So maybe the fact that I really liked it doesn’t mean that much.
Firstly, it’s a cliche to say that Tobey Maguire was the better Peter Parker and Andrew Garfield was the better Spider-man, but there is something to it. Maguire potrayed the nerdy, shy, outcast Peter Parker and Garfield did a great job of the wise cracking smartass Spider-man. The problem is both played their counterparts the exact same way. Maguire’s Spider-man was kind of a nerd and Garfield’s Peter Parker was a wisecracking smartass. The hope for the new movie was that it would manage to capture the Maguire Parker and the Garfield Spider-man.
Now, I’m not sure if Tom Holland really portrayed Peter as an outcast all that well. We’re told that everyone hates him and thinks he’s weird, and by told I mean the other characters keep saying that everyone hates him and thinks he’s weird. But with the exception of Flash Thompson constantly referring to him as “Penis Parker”, they don’t really seem to act like they hate him. Hell, he even manages to go to the dance with the girl he likes. But it still did a pretty good job of portraying nerdy Peter and smartass Spider-man. Sure, Peter Parker didn’t really know how to be Spider-man, but you could still see the difference when he put on the suit.
On that note, the film did a good job showing Peter Parker learning to be Spider-man. Each film series has done this progressively better. The Sam Raimi films showed him discovering his powers, but once he knew he had them there seemed to be no learning curve. The Andrew Garfield films were a little better in this regard, but still he seemed too confident early on. Here, I liked how he was making mistakes and not 100% sure how to be Spider-man. I think this is because the film isn’t bogged down trying to retell the origin story, so it can go into more detail on things like this.
Likewise, each film series has progressively gotten better at depicting the work/life balance of Spider-man/Peter Parker. It was an important plot point in Spider-man 2, but way less important in the first and third. Amazing Spider-man was a little better, but even then not so much. This one really showed Peter constantly missing out on things by being Spider-man. The dance, the contest, school, yada yada yada.
Now, the Vulture. I wasn’t expecting much, as he’s not one of my favourite Spider-man villains and the Marvel movies have a track record of mediocre bad guys. But I was pleasantly surprised. His motivations made sense, and I liked how small scale his whole villain plan actually was. And I liked that they threw in Shocker as a smaller villain, though I don’t know why they needed two.
I really liked the minor inversion at the end. Any other film would have him in the crappy Spider-man suit for the first two thirds and put him in the “classic” suit right at the end. It was cool how they switched that around. But it annoyed me that, even though it was obviously going to happen from the moment Tony took the suit away, they had to repeat the voice over just to make sure the audience would know what they were saying.
Seriously movie, give us some credit.
Also, I got some fanboy giddiness when the suit identified one of the guys on the boat as “Mac Gargon”. Though the film now has robbed me of the chance to spend the next two years speculating on who the villain will be in the sequel.
Some things I didn’t care for, though.
Why did his friend need to know he was Spider-man? It feels like since Robert Downey Jr announed “I’m Iron Man” in 2008 that superheroes don’t have secret identities anymore. It didn’t bother me too much, but it did take away quite a bit of tension. Then again, I prefer this to a hypothetical scene where said friend is complaining about Peter constantly disappearing.
Also, while I did laugh at the end… Aunt May should not know Peter is Spider-man. But I’m going to be annoyed no matter what way they go with this. If in the next movie she’s well aware of it then I’m going to be annoyed. If Peter comes up with an excuse (“it’s just a copy Tony Stark gave me, I’m not really Spider-man”) then the film has lied to the audience and I’m going to be annoyed.
Also, Mary Jane’s name is Mary Jane. Not Michelle. And on that note she’s not April from Parks and Recreation or Daria.
Finally, two complaints that are less about this film specifically and more about the MCU in general. I laughed at the post credit scene, but seriously can we just stop with them? The film goes for over two hours, there’s a ton of ads at the start, and now you want us to sit and wait for the credits to finish?
Also, I never noticed it until I saw this video, but the music is really boring in MCU movies, with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy. The rendition of the 60s theme was cool, but that was it. The music was the same basic stuff they have in all the movies. And I like the Ramones, but filmmakers need to learn that they have more than one song.
In the end, while I really enjoyed this movie, I think my biggest problem with it is that it’s just another MCU movie. It looks like them, it sounds like them, it feels like them. Say what you will about the Sam Raimi trilogy, but they had their own style. (The Amazing Spider-man not so much, to be honest). Even without Iron Man and all the other characters, I think you could tell it’s an MCU movie. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I worry that will hold the series back a bit if it moves forward.
But let’s not end on a down note. I really liked it. Spider-man 2 is still my favourite, but this one’s up there.