dir: Jon Watts
Finally. An unambiguously mediocre, exceedingly average Marvel movie.
It’s a relief, honestly. It’s about bloody time.
The steady stream of undifferentiated product has finally pumped out something that is significantly sub-standard compared to the previous 20+ instalments, and that’s okay. It’s good. It’s good to be shitty, sometimes. It takes the pressure off.
Of course opinions and enjoyment are subjective. Of course I don’t think my opinion on this is in any way definitive, or that it’s even a commonly held opinion. I have no idea. I speak to like five people in this world with any frequency, and they have better things to do that argue about Star Wars Trek Marvel DC et al.
And the thing is, I really like Tom Holland as this Spider-Man. I love Zendaya as MJ, and the action looks okay, and the settings aren’t terrible to look at.
But it’s just a fucking shemozzle. It’s a dog’s breakfast, as if dogs care what their breakfasts look like, the villain makes no sense; the villain has to know a bunch of stuff they couldn’t know in order to plan ahead, and all the characters around Spider-Man have to be fucking dense as shit in order to sell the silliness.
It also doesn’t help that this standalone Spider-Man movie comes on the heels not of Avengers: Endgame, but after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which was just so on point, and so makes a mockery of all this folderol and foofaraw.
So, young Peter Parker is still emotional after the death of his supposed mentor Tony Stark, who only ever treated him terribly, the way you would treat a redheaded stepchild who did more drugs than you. The world, apparently, is crying out for someone to take up the mantle of Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist, at the very least in order to make sense of stuff they couldn’t possibly make sense of.
The five year gap in which half of all life in the universe disappeared, and then reappeared without having aged, is referred to as The Blip, and people seem to have accepted it without question.
Sure. Life returned exactly back to normal, and the average pleb goes about their day doing the same things they were trying to do five years ago. Really? Wouldn’t this have fundamentally changed everything, everyone’s approach to reality and religion and life and all that shit? I mean, it’s not as if the average pleb in these films knows about Thanos, or presumably, anything, but surely it would fuck with their heads?
Apparently not, but all the same, the Avengers seem to be very much not around. So when something starts happening in Europe, obviously, the jerk the world turns to is Spider-Man?
No. They turn to Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a guy with a weird gold centurion like outfit with a goldfish bowl helmet, who says he’s from another Earth that was destroyed by Elementals, and he’s come here, to ‘their’ Earth, to prevent the same thing happening again.
Because, he’s just such a humanitarian, you see. It’s a dumb premise, I admit, because it’s hard to get exercised about a mud elemental destroying parts of Mexico, presumably trying to Destroy That Wall!, and Water trying to wreck Venice when it’s already a watery hell, and then Fire trying to burn Prague. I’ve been to Prague. Burn away, I say. You’ll mostly only be singeing drunken British and American tourists anyway.
When a guy in a suit turns up these days, at least for these people, I guess they feel like they should believe them, no matter how implausible it seems. It must be so easy to get out of homework or explain why you’re late getting home, or why key jobs haven’t been done “Sorry, an interdimensional elemental ate my homework” or “Sorry I’m late, spaceships appeared on the train tracks and fought Godzilla, and the alcohol on my breath was put there by a Sokovian witch” and people have to just roll with it.
So when someone says “They’re giant Elementals that want to wreck the world for no reason” I guess people just accept that it must be true, because whatever. It doesn’t even have to sound half plausible, because who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
Maybe the flick is delving into the dreaded “fake news” idea, or how easy it would be for someone with great tech to fool the world in diabolical ways, but, really, the dingbats currently doing it don’t need any greater tech than videos of themselves screaming about terrorists and refugees in order to manipulate the world.
Gyllenhaal has, in a way, played this same role before. I wouldn’t say that there are that many links to the Tony Gilroy film Nightcrawler, which was a tremendous, diabolical dissection of one sociopath’s approach to tv journalism, but there are enough parallels. It shouldn’t even be considered a spoiler to say that everything we’re being told is bullshit.
The question is, should we care? The answer could be “maybe”. The next question is “do I care”, and they answer most certainly is “fuck no”.
It turns out a disgruntled array of former Stark Industries employees have banded together in order to… I don’t know. Something. They band together to use projected holograms and drones to make it look like the world is being destroyed by Elementals. And why? Because… that would give them more access to more drones and more holograms or underpants or something?
A big deal is made, a very big deal, of something called E.D.I.T.H., something which Stark bequeathed to Peter Parker, an AI with drones and satellites and stuff, with which Spider-Man presumably can protect the world from various threats. The acronym stands for Even Dead I’m The Hero, which is classic Tony, surely, but what I couldn’t figure out is that the Bad Guys can do all this illusion / destructive stuff without the magic sunglasses that make E.D.I.T.H happen; why do they need it again? They already destroyed half of Europe with no help anyway, in the attempt to make it look like they were saving Europe from some non-existent threat: Did they need to destroy it even more to prove their point at some latter stage?
Amidst all this meaningless destruction. Peter’s trying to make sure his friends and fellow students didn’t click that he and Spider-Man keep turning up at the same places all the time, and also trying to share his feelings of “Wow, I think you’re so neat gee golly” to the acerbic and always delightful MJ, while dealing with his other feelings of not being ready to protect the world just yet.
And honestly, boo fucking hoo. Peter needs to do a lot of A Grade whining throughout the fucking film, and I just wasn’t in the headspace for it. I didn’t buy the threat, I didn’t buy or care about the villain’s motivations, whatever they were, and I totally don’t buy the exceedingly strange selectively edited “movie” the villain gifts the world with before they die. As shocking as that moment is in the post-credits, it makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Everything we saw at the end, as a bunch of fucking drones try to kill everyone Peter cares about, and as Beck himself tries to kill Spider-Man, nothing indicates actually, hey, he wanted to die and leave a good looking corpse, but mostly to destroy Spider-Man’s standing in the community, just because Tony Stark really screwed him over.
I mean, who gives a shit? And to whom does that make sense who’s thought about it for a few minutes?
And then there’s the “shocking” reveal that Nick Fury and Agent Hill (Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders) are really the shapeshifting alien Skrull leaders from Captain Marvel, for… reasons?
Boo. Hiss. Snore. It’s another example of saving morsels of interesting ideas for the very end, rendering the film you just watched even more pointless than you thought before the post-credit scene appeared and grazed your eyeballs.
But that’s okay. They deserve to have a miss every now and then. Look, around where I work, there are dozens of coffee shops. I know by now which ones are consistently good, which ones are terrible, and which ones are a coin toss. I don’t always go to the great ones, because you don’t appreciate consistently quality coffee if you have it every day. Some days I’ll deliberately get a coffee from one of the mediocre places, because I know that way when I get a good one on another day, I’ll appreciate it more.
I’m serious, that’s a thing I actually do. Even if it sounds like the disordered thinking of a lunatic with too much time on their hands, it’s how I approach the Marvel Product Pipeline now. A shitty Marvel film here and there will make the (hopefully) good ones that come along that much more enjoyable, eh?
5 times there are just too many of these fucking Marvel movies now out of 10
Someone starts playing AC/DC’s Back in Black
Peter Parker: “I love Led Zeppelin!” – that’s funny, that is – Spider-Man: Far From Home