Fresh off the viewing of this movie with my niece, who is as big a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fan as I am, I’ve had time to think about this movie, and, well, you might not like those thoughts.
Because I left the theatre feeling pretty underwhelmed.
Because I’m pretty sure I paid for a ticket to see a Spider-Man movie, not an Iron Man movie, and that could be a reason why a shared, cinematic universe has its weaknesses.
Now, before we go any further, I will advise everyone that there are majour spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk if you haven’t seen the movie already.
Alright then, away we go…
First off, I want to say that everyone did an absolutely wonderful job here.
Tom Holland is a great Spider-Man, as we saw all the way back in Captain America – Civil War, and he continues to be one here, a kid way in over his head, trying to do the right thing, cracking jokes while being an absolute science nerd.
Ned, played by Jacob Batalom, is every bit a nerd as Peter is, a big Lego fan, and easily one of my new faves. Being a big kid myself, it was great seeing a rotound fellow like Ned around who isn’t picked on for being fat, who is smart and resourceful, and who also saves Peter’s life with an expertly made shot with Peter’s webshooters against the Shocker in the final act of the film.
Zendaya as Michelle, or MJ as her friends call her, is a snarky, smart, shit-giving gothy braniac and budging artist who easily had some of the best lines in the movie.
Laura Haurier as Liza Allen was great as the leader of the science fact team that Peter is a part of, and as Peter’s budding love interest.
And Tony Revolori was great as Flash as well, being an antagonist to Peter while revamping the character from dumb jock to arrogant brainy guy.
Having seen Michael Keaton in Batman, he was my Batman after Adam West for a long time, and in this movie he shows off his acting prowess as a blue collar worker turned villain to make ends meet and provide for his family and the people under his employ. Heck, his descent into villainy is a sympathetic one and he makes good points to Peter, talking about how corporations take money away from working class people and forcing him to do what he does.
Of course, some of that sympathy goes away once he tries to, you know, kill Peter.
It was also wonderful to see Marvel use villains other than the Green Goblin, and the Vulture’s design is frightening and big and thick, looking as it does, made from cobbled together parts by a bunch of can-do trades people. It’s also frightening in how he fights against Spider-Man, legitimately making me worried for him in their final battle together.
However, as I pointed out before, I was feeling underwhelmed by the movie because there is way, way, WAY too much of Happy Hogan and Tony Stark in this movie, and while this is due in part to Spider-Man being a part of the MCU, I can’t help but feel that this movie is an example of how that is a weakness.
The movie only really picked up for me once Spider-Man had his suit taken away from him, and we got to see Peter in his life with his friends and family. When he dons the old costume, it felt good, it was Peter with the resources at his hands, and help from Ned, saving the day with a combination of guts, determination, and brains.
For the first half of the movie though, the appearances of Happy Hogan and Tony Stark undercut Peter’s story to a large degree, and Tony comes across as an arrogant hypocrite and selfish, using, abusive prick.
And this is coming from someone who LIKES Tony Stark as he is played by Robert Downey Jr.
Essentially, Tony uses Peter for Civil War, drops him off with this new suit and all the tech inside of it without any kind of user guide, sets him up with Happy Hogan as a neglectful babbysitter, has a monitor inside the suit that tells him where Peter is whenever he has the suit on, and then gets mad at Peter for trying to impress him by capturing the bad guys.
At one point in the film when Peter and Tony finally have it out, Peter is entirely correct in telling Tony exactly how he feels about being used and abandoned and ignored, which leads to a scene we see in the trailer.
“Give me back the suit.”
“But I’m nothing without the suit!”
And that right there highlighted my problem with the film, where I was rolling my eyes and sighing in the theatre.
Peter Parker became Spider-Man after he learned that with great power comes great responsibility, and I came to this movie to see his life after that lesson was learned.
What I did not come to this movie for was an Spider-Man Themed Iron Man movie.
I mean, for crying out loud, the suit has an AI Guide program that Peter names Karen, and almost as much tech as one of Tony’s Iron Man suits. Peter never had that much tech for much of his career, and here he has it to an absurd level.
This isn’t me being some nearly 40 year old Spider-Man fan shaking my cane at the kids on the lawn and their newfangled things, it’s about undercutting the core of the character which this movie does to a large degree.
And it’s only when Peter gets back to basics that I truly started to like the movie, despite the humour and jokes beforehand making me laugh.
And that’s a damn shame, because Spider-Man deserves better, way better.
And Aunt May too, especially after I read this article at Screen Rants.
To end on a positive note, I did like how Dwayne McDuffie was given his due in the movie, as it did have Damage Control, a comic he created and wrote during his time at Marvel, and that post credits scene was a nice bit of trolling for all us fans who specifically stay right up to the end.