I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I liked the Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN movies (1, 3) and I liked the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that I saw, but this new SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is the first one to convince me that hey, I like Spider-Man. This is easily my favorite version.

Continuing the story of Peter Parker (Tom Holland, phone voice of Tom Hardy’s son in LOCKE) shortly after he got to fight with the Avengers in CAPTAIN AMERICA V. THE CIVIL WAR, this is an upbeat, funny slice of life in a previously unseen part of the Marvel Universe: the high schools.

Thanks to being discovered by Tony Stark (Saturday Night Live Season 11 cast member Robert Downey Jr.), Peter is now armed with a high tech costume and the prestige of being able to talk about “the Stark Internship,” but he’s still a dork. He gets made fun of even within his Academic Decathlon team (thanks alot Flash Thompson [Tony Revolori, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL]), his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) talks to him about Legos in front of cheerleaders, and he annoys the shit out of his Avengers pointman Happy (Jon Favreau, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET), who doesn’t return his way-too-many calls and texts about wanting a new mission.

So the best thing he has going is his independent crimefighting career. That’s when he soars – yes, literally, but you know I mostly mean figuratively, wiseguy. Just like a kid might stare at the clock all day waiting for the bell to ring so he can go ride his skateboard or step up 2 the streets or do parkour or whatever, he gets through his school day and then he’s elated to climb up buildings and jump across– well, he kinds does parkour, but with webshooters and the ulterior motive of stopping crimes.

He’s not slick, but he’s joyful. He’s still awkward about getting the costume on and hiding his clothes behind some garbage cans in an alley. (You can’t tell, but he wears boxers under that thing.) But then he swings around and he’s a smart ass as he snatches purse snatchers, and people know him from Youtube and they’re excited to see him and he’s totally game if they ask him to do a flip.

I believe that part because one time I saw Seattle’s super hero Phoenix Jones and I too was excited, though I didn’t think to ask him to do a flip.

He’s just a great character – he’s funny, and sometimes you’re laughing with him, sometimes at him. He’s amazing (as well as astonishing, spectacular, superior, avenging and ultimate), but very fallible. He can do something incredible and then fall on his ass. He literally yells “Ow, my butt!” during one of the action scenes. As his tasks get larger he has to work harder and harder to keep things together. And things get tough, and he gets emotional, but then he gets through it. It’s not brooding super hero shit. It’s just growing up.

Yes, he ends up fighting a super villain, but this is probly the most down-to-earth super villain of the Marvel movies. Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton, JACKIE BROWN) is kind of a hothead and not very moral, but he’s not trying to conquer the world or anything, he just wants money to provide luxury for his family. In a flashback his salvaging crew loses their contract to clean up the wreckage from the alien invasion in THE AVENGERS, thanks to a new Stark company called Damage Control (led by Tyne Daly [THE ENFORCER]!). Out all the money he put up to start the job, he decides to get into a new racket selling powerful weapons built from the Chitauri scraps. And somewhere along the way he uses the tech to build himself a winged flying suit to use in robberies of more weapons.

I don’t think they ever call him The Vulture, but I knew that was the villain he’s based on. It didn’t occur to me until later that it’s not just the wings that make him a vulture, it’s that he’s a scavenger. Duh.

And I thought it was cool that he had Bokeem Woodbine (PANTHER, RIDDICK) working for him. Also Logan Marshall-Greene (PROMETHEUS, THE INVITATION). Alot of good actors pop up in this one. Remember when it seemed like Keaton hadn’t been in a movie forever? He’s definitely back, but I’m sure not sick of him. This is a good character for him because it has his rage and his quiet intelligence but also his sold-guy-ness. It’s not entirely different from his Bruce Wayne, even though he’s a bad guy, and he had to work for his money. There’s a little bit of honor to Toomes. He’s not a good person, but you can see how the guys who work with him would think of him as a stand up guy.

There’s a pretty unique dynamic between Spider-man and The Vulture because really this is just a guy with a salvaged flying machine and Peter actually has a more advanced suit plus actual super strength and climbing abilities and what not. He really has this guy outclassed. Traditionally this would not be a scary opponent, but Spider-man is just a school kid, and he has to face a guy who built a criminal empire from the ground up and talks about having to protect his family and stuff. He’s an adult! That’s what makes him intimidating.

And therefore it doesn’t feel like the formulaic build to the inevitable super hero battle, like the story of the Lizard in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN did. Instead it feels like this kid’s little case snowballing out of his control, forcing him to step into this larger world for the first time.

Other notable things about him being a kid: until now, he has only driven cars in parking lots. And when he finds out about a robbery taking place out of state he can’t just up and go there – he has to piggyback on a school trip to Washington DC.

I noticed alot of filming locations that weren’t New York on the credits, but they seem dedicated to capturing the spirit of the place. The famous tagline “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” is a serious theme throughout the movie, and Peter is friends with neighbors and bodega owners. And notably he goes to a school that’s not just white people. This has got to be the most diverse cast of any super hero movie unless you count the FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies.

But also it avoids the movie cliche of depicting New York City as a crime-ridden hellhole. The stuff he stops is mostly petty. And there’s a funny joke about him trying to swing into action in the suburbs. He slings his web but there are no skyscrapers to attach to, so it just shoots out into nowhere.

He’s out there because he goes to a party, and he faces that age old dilemma: should I sneak off and come back as Spider-man because I feel awkward at parties? He has a crush on the girl throwing the party, Liz. I knew there was a Disney Channel star called Zendaya in the movie, so I assumed that was her, but the actress who plays Liz is Laura Harrier from One Life to Live. Zendaya plays Michelle, who is a funny comic relief character, but they put her on the controversial “collage” poster (left) looking all love-interesty!

Anyway, Peter has the problem of getting a hot girl to like him but then blowing it by constantly having to ditch her to go do Spider-activities without being able to explain to her what happened. If this feels weird in the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s because he’s the only one with a secret identity. Remember, Tony Stark revealed himself at the end of the very first Marvel Universe movie.

I have to say – I saw fans dreaming for years about the Spider-Man movies going back to Marvel, and then they got their wish, and they celebrated… and then some of them got mad because because they thought there was too much Iron Man in the trailer. Is the porridge too hot, or is it too cold?

But I think most of them probly agree with me that making Tony Stark sort of a mentor to Peter is a great idea. It positions Peter as a kid, a beginner, in this ALMOST FAMOUS situation of getting to live out his dreams, meet his idols, try to prove that he belongs there. And he deserves the shot because of his talents (and powers) but it’s not gonna be easy for him to hang. And from Tony’s side, it gives him a chance to bond with sort of his opposite, a kid who grew up without alot of money, but with plenty of morals. He can share his vast resources with Peter, but spiritually he’s gonna be the one getting the most out of this relationship, I think.

And while Peter is still some kind of science genius (but not photographer?) it makes so much more sense that his suit is created by Stark, and that’s why it can shrink to his exact body shape and contain web wings and even a parachute (definitely a good safety feature to have). We’ve always had to accept that he somehow made that thing. This makes so much more sense. And with great costumes comes great responsibility.

Through all this he does learn a lesson, and it’s not even one Stark is trying to teach him. He really comes to it on his own. He grows.

But hopefully not too much, because I like him being in high school.

Congratulations to director Jon Watts (COP CAR) and his screenwriters. He’s credited along with his writing partner Christopher Ford, but also the writing teams of Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (HORRIBLE BOSSES, VACATION) and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE). That’s alot of cooks (or joke writers) but they got the flavor just right.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they could’ve gotten to this movie without Raimi doing his first. He really took the comic book movie to new places, and it has since evolved from there. But you see this and you don’t think “ah, this shit again?” You think “Oh yeah, of course that’s how you do a Spider-man movie!” I loved it.

P.S.

SPOILERY MARVEL UNIVERSE STUFF

There’s a mention of “the prototype for Cap’s new shield.” This raises eyebrows because as of the last CAPTAIN AMERICA, Steve Rogers was a fugitive allegedly in opposition to the Avengers (though he sent Tony a nice note). I did a search on this and found speculation that this means they’ve made up in between movies. I don’t know about that. I wonder if it will turn out to mean that somebody else, like Falcon, has taken on the Captain America name and costume.

I noticed that the principal (Kenneth Choi, WAR, STREET KINGS, The People vs. O.J. Simpson) had a photo in his office of his grandfather in uniform. I thought that was an interesting character detail, but then I read it’s an Easter egg: his grandpa is Howling Commandos member Jim Morita, played by the same actor.

By the way, I liked the idea of the school still having to watch corny Captain America P.S.A.s after all the shit that went down in CIVIL WAR. And maybe Principal Morita’s family connection to Captain America explains why. Not that out-datedness needs an explanation. It reminds me of when I had jury duty and they made us watch a video of Raymond Burr, who had died pretty recently, telling us how important jury duty was and making gratuitous references to Washington state locations. I remember looking around at the other potential jurors like “Can you believe we’re watching this?,” but nobody gave a shit.

At the end, when Stark offers Spider-man a shiny new suit, I was actually worried. Don’t make him wear that thing in the sequel, he looks perfect now! So classic and elegant, with unobtrusive details that hint at function. We don’t need different colors and shiny metallic parts and shit. So it’s a relief when he not only turns down Stark’s offer, but is confirmed to get the other suit back. Phew.

 

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 at 11:04 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

106 Responses to “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

  1. I saw it yesterday and already forgot most of it. It’s just your typical teen movie with superpowers. It wants to blatantly be a John Hughes movie so bad you even get a Ferris Bueller clip and 80s music at the dance. You’ve seen it all before.

    Also the PC overload from the casting director was distractingly hilarious. Flash Thompson is an scrawny indian looking kid that seems closetly gay for Peter and who Peter physically towers over and could likely wallop even without superpowers. Ned Leeds is some fat filipino loser and seeing him become Hobgoblin will be even funnier than That 70’s Kid as Venom. MJ (SPOILER) is virtually unrecognizable physically or personality wise but hey at least the awkward girls also get an avatar. This kinda stuff is gonna make the extreme nerds have an embolism but it’s just so “try hard” and superfluous that it just made me actually laugh.

    I disliked that they were not confident enough in mining Pete’s teen years for material. Especially cause there is great stuff there you could just update. This is basically a Miles Morales (Ultimate Spiderman II) movie down to the asian geeky best friend who wears his spidey mask and his mother figure being a younger more street smart lady.
    They even squeeze Miles’ uncle in there in the form of Bino and have him give the young Spider-Man advice like in Ultimate Spider-Man. That rubbed me the wrong way cause then what do you do with Miles’ upcoming animated movie?

    Also I haven’t watched any of these since The Avengers so the fact that it picks up right after it was welcome. That Stark is such a prickasaurus that you can’t help but root for Toomes and his blue collar squad because of how Stark (after helping save the world at that) played them with their city contract. Only thing that makes you end up rooting against them is that Peter is such a likeable dorky boyscout. The way he should be. But if this was an Iron Man sequel though…

    The web swinging and action was also very boring. Raimi is still king there. With that said this new kid is gold. First Spidey performance I have liked since Tobey’s first in 2002. Perfectly awkward but not overtly geeky very genuinely Peter Parker. With better writers and directors he could really make a classic. Keaton was a boss as usual. That cliche shit that led to the car scene was worth it to see Keaton go all Batman and Pacific Heights all at once in 2017. I also liked the very end. I mean if he’s this young now and we’re gonna get so many movies with him that kinda twist actually makes sense even if it makes him even more like Superman to some people. I look forward to the future of this Spider-Man and watching him grow before our very eyes.

  2. I saw it yesterday and already forgot most of it. It’s just your typical teen movie with superpowers. It wants to blatantly be a John Hughes movie so bad you even get a Ferris Bueller clip and 80s music at the dance. You’ve seen it all before. Except this one has a random 21st century appearance from former Dirty Harry partner Tyne Daly.

    The PC overload from the casting director was distractingly hilarious. Flash Thompson is an scrawny indian looking kid that seems closetly gay for Peter and who Peter physically towers over and could likely wallop even without superpowers. Ned Leeds is some fat filipino loser and seeing him become Hobgoblin will be even funnier than That 70’s Kid as Venom. MJ (SPOILER) is virtually unrecognizable physically or personality wise but hey at least the awkward girls also get an avatar. This kinda stuff is gonna make the extreme nerds have an embolism but it’s just so “try hard” and superfluous like they had a checklist with a bunch of boxes to not upset or alienate anyone that it just made me actually laugh.

    I disliked that they were not confident enough in mining Pete’s teen years for material. Especially cause there is great stuff there you could just update. This is basically a Miles Morales (Ultimate Spiderman II) movie down to the asian geeky best friend who wears his spidey mask and his mother figure being a younger more street smart lady.
    They even squeeze Miles’ uncle in there in the form of Bino and have him give the young Spider-Man advice like in Ultimate Spider-Man. That rubbed me the wrong way cause then what do you do with Miles’ upcoming animated movie?

    I also felt that whole thing with the dominican bodega owner going “stay in school you don’t want to end up like me” was bogus. Then again all school did for me was give me debt. I learned more from life experiences. Still though making it seem like choosing to run the rat race is better than being a small business owner who answers only to himself? that shit is not a healthy message for a lot of kids IMO.

    I haven’t watched any of these since The Avengers so the fact that it picks up right after it was welcome. That Stark is such a prickasaurus that you can’t help but root for Toomes and his blue collar squad because of how Stark (after helping save the world at that) played them with their city contract. Only thing that makes you end up rooting against them is that Peter is such a likeable dorky boyscout. The way he should be. But if this was an Iron Man sequel though…

    The web swinging and action was also very boring. Raimi is still king there. With that said this new kid is gold. First Spidey performance I have liked since Tobey’s first in 2002. Perfectly awkward but not overtly geeky very genuinely Peter Parker. With better writers and directors he could really make a classic. Keaton was a boss as usual. That cliche shit that led to the car scene was worth it to see Keaton go all Batman and Pacific Heights all at once in 2017. I also liked the very end. I mean if he’s this young now and we’re gonna get so many movies with him that kinda twist actually makes sense even if it makes him even more like Superman to some people. I look forward to the future of this Spider-Man and watching him grow before our very eyes.

  3. So sorry for the double post guys. Please delete the first one if possible clubside. The second one is the one with EVERYTHING I really wanted to say.

  4. I’m also glad to see that Vern finally likes Spider-Man the character. Welcome to the club bud.

  5. I actually can’t disagree with Broddie too much, here. I found this interation of Spidey forgettable and boring. Holland was very charismatic-I just feel like he was given sort of a stinker of a movie to work with.

    1) Too much high school drama. WAY too much. Look, we get it, Parker ditches his peeps over and over so he can go be Spidey and impress Stark.

    2) His Spidey “powers” were BORING. He can jump, flip, climb walls, and…well, that’s about it. He has nothing that really makes him uniquely cool or powerful or SPIDEY. He’s more or less just a teenage version of Cap in a spider suit.

    3) The motivations of both the hero and the villain felt lazy. Parker just wants to be a hero for the sake of being a hero, Keaton (was it Toomes?) is mad he is losing money from the contracting job, so he becomes a bad guy who sells alien tech guns on the street to make money. Neither has a strong emotional motivation. Nothing/no one they care about is being threatened.

    4) Homecoming Spidey just seems way less…confident or aware or powerful than Civil War Spidey, who was kicking Avenger ass (even if they were holding back some). He seems so unsure/not confident in Homecoming.

    5) There was never a real sense of danger because every time something went wrong, Stark came and cleaned up the mess. This Spidey feels TOO tied to Stark. Just when you think he’s finally “come of age” at the end, he just gets the original Stark suit back, which means his future powers are just going to be tied to Stark’s vision of a spider hero, and less about Spider-Man discovering what he’s capable of and using his own powers.

    6) Spidey’s side kicks were just cringey. I think Broddie pretty well covered that. Too cliche.

    Not a horrible movie-I just think they tried to do the second and third acts of an origin story and fell short. They may as well have just showed us EVERYTHING-even the spider bite. Do like Deadpool.

  6. Vern, I recall you once referring to to comic books as “children’s comic strips,” now you’re dropping all of Spidey’s adjectives and referencing the fact that Falcon is Captain America in the comics. Are you goin’ SOFT?!?

  7. Crushinator Jones

    July 11th, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    “But I think most of them probly agree with me that making Tony Stark sort of a mentor to Peter is a great idea.”

    Well actually Vern I think it’s a terrible idea. Spidey is a self-made, blue-collar guy, despite his white-collar science skills. He lived in Queens, never caught a break, etc. etc. and a huge part of the appeal of the character is his scrappy underdog nature. In fact I think you caught on to this when you said “don’t take the new suit, Spider-Man, it’s too perfect!”

    Now the good news is that Tony Stark is a shitty mentor and as much of an antagonist in this film as a help. His “Damage Control” initiative steamrolling over Toomes is what starts him down his “life of crime” path. And the cruel arrogance of catapulting Parker into the big leagues for a couple of days and then busting him back down to the minors with zero contact or advice contributed to Peter’s desperate scramble to impress him. But there’s something gross about turning perennial self-made hero Peter Parker into just another Stark employee, using Stark Gadgets and going where Stark tells him. Which is why I’m glad that they showed him completely rejecting Stark and doing everything possible to show that Parker is Spider-Man and the suit is just a cool marketing/optics thing (which Stark excels at).

    Anyway, I liked this.

  8. These comments on the Marvel movies kind of explain why many of you go gaga over the old timey movies like The Shadow. Are you going to start proclaiming back in my day soon :)

  9. Crushinator Jones

    July 11th, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I’m a big Spidey fan from way back but I understand that the character has to grow. Being a “wallflower” nerd who everyone picks on physically doesn’t really work very well anymore. Schools seem pretty serious about the bullying stuff (the EFFECTIVENESS of their remedies is up for grabs, but back in my day they literally didn’t give a shit about bullying at all). So the fact that Flash is now a rich kid “mean girls” kind of social antagonist rather than a lunkhead punching jock is ok by me. And Andrew Garfield’s Parker doing Skate Tricks rather than retreating into Science Books never bothered me at all.

    So I really don’t care about their new MJ not being true to her “comic self” which, IIRC, is a wish fulfillment exercise who literally introduces herself as a prize that Peter Parker has won. It’s much more corrosive to me to see Parker being Iron Man’s intern and sidestepping poverty by getting handed his toolkit on a platter at the whim of some rich guy.

  10. Crushinator Jones

    July 11th, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    BTW, before anyone gets any ideas, I deliberately put that “back in my day” in there for Sternshein.

  11. I liked that Aunt May was given a hot makeover in this. The more I’ve seen Marisa Tomei in movies over the years, the more I’m convinced her Oscar wasn’t just a blunder. She’s gorgeous and funny. See CYRUS if you don’t believe me.

  12. Not a fan of the gadgets in Spidey’s suit. It’s makes things too easy for him and takes away from the innate uniqueness of his powers.

  13. “The PC overload from the casting director was distractingly hilarious”

    More often than not, when people say they dislike PC they usually mean they dislike PoC.

    Not saying that it’s the case here but just a heads up that it’s an eyebrow raiser.

    I actually love that Spidey is an accurately diverse representation of NYC [and queens] rather than the Friends version of NYC.

  14. I’m a black latino who still lives happily around the slums he grew up in in uptown NYC around nothing my fellow spanish and english speaking people of color.

    Truth is as a person of color I find it kinda patronizing to see PC agenda driven stunt casting like this. It feels forced and disingenuous. Made to not raise eyebrows and shit.

    However like I said it just humors me because the people responsible whether it’s white guilt or a demographics grab are completely clueless as to why it would come across as condescendin no matter how well intended. They’ll never understand anyway.

    So yeah it’s not that. I do come from the school of why not create new characters instead of dramatically altering existing ones but that is a whole other convo and I liked enough of this movie that I can deal with it.

  15. Keep in mind I grew up in the 80s and 90s. A time where stuff like that would get called out for not being real. I’m not trying to sound like one of these assholes and being grouped with them is kinda offensive. Then again I have tough skin and a blunt mouth and forget that a lot of people are more sensitive about that kinda stuff today. Still I’m here to speak my truth and at the end of the day of anyone needs clarification they can always just ask.

  16. Part of me also wants to say: “if it’s really queens then where are all the colombians at?” :) but I’ll just chalk that up to creative expression.

  17. Felix, I also felt the gadget suit made it #notmyspiderman. I mean if fans were up in arms over organic webshooters, certainly an entire suit equipped with gadgets far beyond web shooters is way too far in the other direction.

    I guess a spider-man with iron man powers is fun for a one off and people love it so what do I know.

  18. As long as he’s gadget heavy is it wrong that I really want him to have a Spidey car?

    Maybe it’s nostalgia for my old toybiz spidey dragster but I also really liked that scene with him in Flash’s car (SPOILER).

  19. I’m with Vern, I loved it. This was exactly different enough from all prior film versions to be worth doing, but also still felt fundamentally pretty true to the core. Holland was great, I loved his scenes with Downey, and Michael Keaton was really teriffic in my opinion.

    Also, Broddie’s entire comment sucks. Highlighted terms he uses: “closetedly gay,” “fat Filipino loser,” “PC overload,” “scrawny Indian looking Kid,” “Dominican Bodega owner.” There’s also implied annoyance at MJ’s appearances what with her being an avatar for “awkward girls” and all. And he also complains about Donald Glover being in there.

    All of this screams your discomfort with all these non-white people being in the movie (and also disdain for girls who aren’t “awkward” whatver that means). Go ahead and deny it but why did you include those particular adjectives? What not just call Flash scrawny (instead of scrawny and Indian-looking) or just call Ned fat (instead of fat and Asian)? Because if they were white it wouldn’t bother you as much. You seem pretty angry and intolerant.

  20. This is weird. I’ve heard that boobs are bad and casting non-white actors is bad. What am I going to learn tomorrow? :)

  21. Sternshein, cake also sucks.

  22. I included all those adjectives cause I grew up and still live in a city where people seldomly bite their tongue. Sorry for being me and rustling your feathers. Not being sarcastic or dickish either that is a genuine apology.

    Also a lot of people on this site have known for years that im not white but a black spanish speaking cat from an “urban” place. I guess being a dominican myself who grew up in a place chockful of minorities (the only “white” people were jews) and therefore people who spoke about issues like race and differences openly and freely but never maliciously I need to be more conscientious that a lot of people won’t really understand that. Especially white folks. No offense intended really. That’s just me. Pleased to meet ya?

  23. Also I never complained about Bino being there. My goodness some of you cats sometimes fail to read what is really there when you read into something incorrectly. Just because somebody states some gripes or points out disingenous seeming shit doesn’t mean it’s coming from place of hate. I liked this movie it doesn’t mean I have to find it flawless.

    I disliked that they blatantly gave narrative beats that belong to my fellow black dominican Miles Morales (including a pep talk from his Unc while in suit) to Peter Parker. Especially because Miles is the focus of the upcoming animated movie. What narrative beats does that leave him with? Now I WILL be dickishly sarcastic: reading is fundamental.

  24. I have never in all my years here have never had to apologize for being me on here. Must remember that the times they are a changing and I’ll keep that in mind. However to the newer posters who don’t know me my voice is just my voice all I ask is please know who’s it is before making broad assumptions.

    I honestly didn’t bite my tongue cause I never do with these fellas. They’re like family at this point. This is the only movie community that matters cause everyone is unapologetically but respectfully themselves. I do forget that we do have lurkers and they do get compelled to post. So my bad y’all didn’t mean to bring that kinda vibe to such a positive review at all but I’ll R rate myself now. No more NC-17.

  25. I know “with great power comes great responsibility” and everything, but fuck that Broddie. Just be yourself. We know who you are.

  26. May I say thar all the phase 1 call backs (principal’s lineage, Martin Starr reprising his role from THE INCREDIBLE HULK) were pretty neat. Sometimes it feels like Marvel tries to ignore those movies and only acknowledge all the post-AVENGERS stuff.

  27. Mastor Troy – *fist bump*

  28. There was supposed to be a question mark after “THE INCREDIBLE HULK” but it’s possible that young scientist dude went on to become science teacher right?

    Nice lil nuances. Better than the more explicit callbacks.

  29. The most surprising thing about HOMECOMING for me was its breezy pacing. It’s probably the best paced MCU movie since….2014? Read a lot of reviews which back-handed complimented what Jon Watts did here, about not having a strong “voice.” So why is it his movie didn’t have (or not as much) pacing issues as what James Gunn and Patty Jenkins did with live-action spandex this summer?

    Not as over the Moon about Vulture/Keaton as rest of the Internet, but he’s decent. He works and Keaton’s a pro that gives that part a blue collar credibility. Hell last 4 MCU movies, 3 of them (DR STRANGE the absentee) actually had decent villains. Not great, not exceptional but he works. I’ve also wondered if the Keaton praise in part is because of how lackluster blockbusters (not just spandex) have been with villains in recent times for the most part? Contrast with the 1990s when you a lot of the action/big budget movies have villains where Rickman or Boothe or James Woods and so forth were paid big checks to chew scenery and be entertaining. We took that for granted.

    Also weirdly, HOMECOMING had the lowest ending stakes of the cinematic MCU so far and I thought worked towards that working class existentialist/coming of age story for Mr. Spider-The-Man.

    Which then the movie inadvertedly tries to sabotage at the end with SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER with the hero getting his high tech suit back. “Good job Tim for learning how to walk. Here’s your crutch back.” SPOILER SPOILER That’s really my only serious nitpick with this movie.

    Rankings: SPIDER-MAN 2 still king of this franchise, but HC is better than SPIDER-MAN #1 and the other movies.

  30. NOT CAKE??!?!?!?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Broddie, I was just fooling around. I think it’s weird to be upset with minority casting but I still respect your thoughts.

  31. RRA you usually know about this type of stuff. How much of all that would you say was cause of Marvel?
    and how much is it cause of Sony?

    Reason I ask is cause I’ve been seeing people state on comic book forums that the reason Vulture is the most memorable MCU baddie since Red Skull is cause of the writer’s Sony hired. Not because of Marvel Studios’ influence. Wasn’t sure about that.

  32. Broddie – Avengers referenced TIH. So did CIVIL WAR. And (OK a completely different division from Kevin Feige’s realm mind you) on DAREDEVIL. For TIH being Marvel Studios’ one dud and probably the one most forgotten of the bunch, they’ve gotten some mileage out of it.

    Hell allegedly a TIH cast member is in INFINITY WAR, if that rumor is true.

  33. Spider-Man 2 is still my favorite overall movie for me but still loved this a whole lot. It’s right up there.

    @Broddie, just a quick btw, Flash Thompson’s Latino, not Indian. Anyway I liked the change from the jock bully to just an a-hole, in-real-life internet troll.

    Anyway, I loved all the little details this movie is peppered with, and I’m not even talking about the Marvel stuff. The news reports from the AV club, his friend being the “hat guy at the party”, Flash’s DJ airhorn, the fact that there was no typical high school clique bs, randos on the street wanting to see flips, the fact that Peter has a clearly 2nd hand bunk bed and a taped together laptop. I especially love the latter because one of the most groanworthy aspects of the Garfield movies for me was him having the most focus-tested taste in things: the skateboard, the perfect Clash poster, Infinite Jest on his nightstand, room decked out with Sony products. Did they even have Sony products in this one? Anyway, they nailed the character this time out.

    Only thing I wasn’t totally sold on was the high tech suit but then I realized that having Peter having someone to talk to is a good way to get his thoughts across ala the comics when in costume. Plus the upside down kiss callback was funny so they may have won me over with it.
    And first Kurt Russell and now Michael Keaton. If Cate Blanchett is as good as she usually is Marvel will be 3 for 3 in actually having good villains in their flicks. Just a really entertaining flick.

  34. I’m not the biggest fan of Spiderman 2 but the initial Doctor Octopus attack of the doctors is one of the single greatest Sam Raimi scenes ever. I wish Sam Riami would make another movie soon.

  35. RRA – Never really watched the post-AVENGERS stuff so I wasn’t aware.

    SPIDER-MAN 2 was always very overrated to me. It’s predecessor is still my favorite one.

  36. The train sequence still is dope as hell though. I will never deny that.

  37. Gern – Ok cool. I was just joshing on the whole “look he’s a person of color with mean tendenciee but he’s still normal enough to also relate to Peter’s crew and be on the debate team with them” thing in general. Lol so transparently safe for the sake of being safe. Whatever though.

  38. It’s also kinda weird that I once had a friend in high school when I moved to miami for a year who not only was a physical dead ringer for Ned but it was trippy that it was a filipino actor (Ganke who this version of Ned was based on was of Korean heritage) and my boy was not also filipino. We were also regular citizens of the “loser outcast” crowd and he was very persistingly inquisitive

    His name? Fred.

    That bugged me out and also kinda endeared me and tethered me emotionally to the movie cause it was a nice personally relatable touch. I don’t know who the writers are but if they went to high school in 1999 down south they probably knew us.

  39. *not only also…

  40. Broddie – That’s the first I’ve heard of it, but anything is possible. (Of course I thought Zemo and Ego were good villains for them in recent times, and Sony had dick to do with those productions.)

    I do know Lainey on her blog claimed Sony got pissed because Marvel used Sony’s money to pay for shit they otherwise weren’t willing to spend, like bringing back Gwyneth Paltrow (Lainey was the one who revealed that development) and Marvel told them to eat shit. So there is that.

    Is it just a coincidence that I thought HC was cut relatively as well as it was, or Watts was a reason for it? No idea, though Marvel has final cut on that as they do on all their movies.* The only concrete thing you can credit Watts for sure that you see on the big screen is him directing those kids. Since directors direct actors to do this and that on set. Watts aint flashy like Raimi is in terms of framing and cutting (in fact rather traditional) but regardless did a good job filtering the MCU formula through the teensploitation prism.

    Another weird thing about HOMECOMING: Its a friggin SPIDER-MAN movie, and yet this is the least angst-driven live action spandex movie we’ve had this year so far. Even GOTGv2 which had dialogue about turds and other (wonderful) silliness, was still about daddy issues and one sister mutilating another sister and so forth.

  41. Speaking of Watts, back when it was rumored Norman Osborn was going to be in HOMECOMING I actually thought Kevin Bacon had a shot of getting that gig because of COP CAR. (I’m sure he would be good but I would rather get Spidey villains not yet done on film before we go into the Green Goblin shit again. 4 of those 5 movies dabbled in it one form or another already. Kraven and Mysterio are two not-yet-done biggies I would want.)

    Makes you wonder if they’re setting up for Avengers Tower to be bought by OsCorp.

  42. Bacon as Mysterio could work wonders for that character actually. It’s a shame Tom Hardy is already Eddie Brock. He would’ve been a perfect Kraven. A more legible version of his Bane. Speaking of Venmo imagine that this Brock is kin to Proto-Shocker? Since we all know Hardy and Greene are really the same guy. That shit could lead to a potential VENOM v VULTURE joint and I could never be mad at that.

  43. I’m mad that I didn’t get to see an onscreen ONLY YOU reunion like I had expected. Did RDJ and Tomei have any scenes together in Civil War?

  44. Vern – As for SPOILER SPOILER the shield prototype, I wrote it up to being Tony Stark at times is an addict to tinker with technology. Same way that Prince lived in the recording studios for large portions of his career apparently just making music and thus the mythical Vault, whatever batshit crazy (if alot of times genius) stuff that’s in his brain.

    Broddie – I give SPIDER-MAN 2 the title for best in franchise (and why its aged well all things considered within the spectrum/genre) because of the following:

    (1) Only Spidey movie that doesn’t merely pay lip service to Peter Parker the regular dude dealing with regular people problems, but just one existential kick to the balls after another with all the problems in his life that just snowballs. (HOMECOMING isn’t that dire, though they do make a point of what Parker is sacrificing by chasing down Birdman.) And then add the losing powers (If SPIDER-MAN #1 was thematically about male impotency with the 3 male leads, the sequel is literally about it), yeah he quits and struggles with whether to let go of his mission (or addiction?) Its credit to Raimi that in spite of his misery, SM2 is still hilarious as we laugh at Parker’s bad luck. So it’s not as miserable as he is. I remember BVS trying to show that gee being a superhero would actually kinda suck, and juxtaposition images of Superman saving people and whatever the fuck. Parker’s life is hell because he does the right thing. Remember the first Spidey action scene in #2 is him heroically delivering pizzas…and being late because he saved some kids from traffic. Or coming off as a putz to his Aunt because who else would try to stop Doc Ock?

    (2) For that matter of all these spandex movies, how many actually have a middle class superhero? Most are either billionaires or exotic folks (Wonder Woman) or work in exotic jobs (Star-Lord) where it’s not a pressing concern. ANT-MAN played with that notion for a hot minute before going off elsewhere. Aunt May’s house is foreclosed and there is no deux ex machinas plot resolution to save it. She moves it, life goes on. Parker for all his powers and heroics done can’t pay the bills. Come to think of it, both movies you have Peter and Mary Jane be middle class kids trying to escape and ascend their social-economical status. Parker with his smarts and scholarships, MJ with her looks and going into acting. It can’t be a coincidence that in those first 2 movies, MJ’s first 3 boyfriends have one common trait: they have money. Or that Parker only does that wrestling event in #1 because of a materialistic need in service of his boner.

    (3) #1 works mainly because of the character acting work from the cast and Raimi’s narrative structure taking a good many pages from Donner’s SUPERMAN playbook. But the action is OK, a lot of subsequent spandex movies have traveled down that road. Not to mention a lot of the CGI in blockbusters in 1990s and 2000s haven’t aged well and #1 (and some parts of #2) are no exceptions. But that train setpiece in #2? Still fucking awesome, a triumph of technology and storytelling. Movie deserved that VFX Oscar that year just for this.

    SM2 has issues where Doc Ock is set-up well, but then movie forgets about him and there’s a point where you wonder if the movie actually needed him as resolution for this plot. Or that its muddled/unsatisfying about exactly how Parker gets his machismo back, which is boils down to “his love interest gets kidnapped.”

  45. Yes, pretty much the majority of Tomei’s scene in Civil War has RDJ in it.

  46. Broddie, I found that life outside of the five boroughs is rough. Basically, I’ve learned to just speak as little as possible because every time I opened my mouth, somebody would get rubbed the wrong way…

  47. I thought this movie was fucking great, I loved it, Tom Holland is by far the best Spider-Man.

    However I’m not sure if it’s quite the best Spider-Man *movie*, 2 probably still tops it overall, the action scenes in HOMECOMING lacked the energy of the Raimi movies, they’re not bad at all but just don’t really feel like anything special.

    All in all though I just loved Peter Parker/Spider-Man in this, he’s a fun character who you enjoy spending time with, so much so I was actually bummed when the movie was over, he’s also one of the few Super Heroes I’ve seen in this movies that truly feels like a HERO, as in an aspirational figure who’s really inspirational.

  48. Excuse the discursive, autobiographical post. I need to revisit Raimi 2 and 3 because I was… kind of a child when I saw them (I’m one of those prototype millennials who remained a child through ages 19 and 22). But I had trouble with them at the time.

    I was frustrated with taking away the Spidey powers in 2. I was in no mood for a teenage angst metaphor, and it’s not like Spider Man has some crazy invincible powerset where you NEED to neuter him to reintroduce a sense of danger.

    But, there was also Fantastic Four the following year where the heroes spent the entire film hating the fact that they were superheroes, and the entire plot revolved around them trying to rid themselves of their powers. So I might have developed a larger complex about “shit, why can’t we just have some unadulterated superpower wish fulfillment?” and retroactively soured on Spider Man 2 more than is warranted.

    For 3, I mainly was bummed out that my 2nd-favorite-ever comic villain Venom (after Carnage, but you need Venom to get to Carnage so I was extra hyped) didn’t live up to my expectations. I need to revisit it at least for the emo dance.

    Anyway this is all leading up to my proclamation that The Amazing Spider Man 2 needs a serious revisit by some of y’all. I was unsold as fuck on Garfield 1 and made no secret of it at the time. But the fact that Jamie Foxx as Electro went unheralded and even ridiculed on this site bums me the fuck out. It’s a movie where each character, hero and villain, seems to be striving for the same thing, the difference being the choices they make in response to their shortcomings and failures.

    Lastly, despite the auspicious review I feel kinda lackluster about HC given all the talk about him being relegated to Stark’s beta tester. But I’ll definitely see it given my affection for Spider Man.

  49. Also I read a review that drew parallels between Electro and Ellison’s Invisible Man, and I was down.
    http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/ffc/2014/04/the-amazing-spider-man-2.html

  50. At the end Michelle says that her friends call her “MJ”, so she’s probably the MCU version of Mary-Jane Watson. Seeing her dressed up on that shitty-ass photoshop poster makes me wonder if an earlier version of the script played the reveal a lot bigger, with one of those John Hughes type moments where it turns out the girl you were in love with was right in front of you all along etc. but I’m glad they didn’t.

    I have no idea whether it’s Queens accurate or not, but I’ve got a relative who goes to a school for gifted science/tech students in a big, multicultural city, and the racial makeup of the school looks way closer to Parker’s school than most I see on screen.

  51. I might give ASM2 another shot but I remember it being really boring.

  52. Emma Stone is the only reason to watch TASM2.

  53. I love Raimi’s Spiderman (the first film) but Spiderman is not my favorite superhero. In the comics he is unorganised, untidy, late everywhere with a caotic life, I love tidiness etc. so it made me kind of uncomfortable to read about him. This film I think got that part of Spiderman to perfection. I enjoyed this very much and I like the choice of villain too. Perfect for the fleding hero.

  54. (SPOILER) I took what Michelle says at the end to be a reveal, but Kevin Feige keeps saying in interviews that she’s not the MCU version of Mary Jane:

    “We never even looked at it as a big reveal necessarily but more of just a fun homage to his past adventures and his past love. She’s not Mary Jane Watson. She never was Mary Jane Watson. She was always this new high school character, Michelle, who we know there’s an “M” in Michelle and an “M” in Mary. [laughs] So we’re so clever and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if her initials were MJ?’ And then I think it leaked that she would be playing MJ and then it became a whole headache for Zendaya to have to navigate. It was never a big, ‘Oh my God, it’s a big reveal!’ There are big reveals in the movie. That’s not one of them.”

    Anyway she’s a funny character. I don’t think he necessarily needs to fall in love with her, she can just be a classmate/possible friend.

  55. A friend of mine compared her to Helga from HEY ARNOLD, and that really makes sense.

    As for what Feige said, I remember when EON around the time of CASINO ROYALE was adamant publicly that it wasn’t a reboot but a “prequel.” A stance that over time they dropped. Maybe Feige is telling the truth, but I have trouble believing they would mention those iconic initials and do it as a throwaway joke.

    I wonder if it’s their way of doing MJ without necessarily doing MJ Watson herself, thus more creative maneuvering room to do what they want. What if in the sequel they reveal that her dad is a certain loud mouth newspaper publisher with a hate boner for Spidey?

  56. I am okay with that. A fresh take on the character. I actually prefer that they break from the comics.

  57. “I saw it yesterday and already forgot most of it. ”

    That could be the tag line of pretty every single Marvel movie I have seen the last 5 years.

  58. I didn’t feel anything during the consumption of this product. I guess it’s my fault, it surely is put together competently. Way better than even less ambitioned entries like Ant-Man.

    Maybe I’m searching for the wrong things in this kind of movie and just get more and more frustrated. This inartistic work doesn’t even get me the feeling of watching a movie. There is not one memorable shot, no stunning composition, no ambitioned filmmaking, no risktaking in this. It’s just there and so competently made that it’s hard to be really angry about it.

    But I clearly remember this: A visual artist like Raimi made me feel anything that Peter Parker felt, even when it maybe wasn’t the best rendition of the character.

  59. Crushinator Jones

    July 12th, 2017 at 9:08 am

    “There is not one memorable shot, no stunning composition, no ambitioned filmmaking, no risktaking in this.”

    The shot of him eating a sandwich on a fire escape in Queens at sunset was nice.

    Speaking about watching a movie as “the consumption of a product” is a little robotic and offputting IMO.

  60. Crushinator: I think the production and marketing of these modern post-BATMAN blockbusting type joints is definitely comparable to that of a product – that doesn’t mean they’re all identical or completely worthless (though most are, IMO) but I think it’s fair when discussing a piece of mass-cult media to situate it as the product of specific economic and cultural forces. Also, the “long form storytelling” of the Disney/Marvel empire that everyone jizzes over has a specific type of “consumability”/planned obsolescence to it that is definitely built into the business model that is worth noting. I read Andreas’ comment as more of a sad reflection on the state of modern film production/cinephilia than a description of his personal approach to watching a film – kind of a badass take on Susan Sontag’s “The Decay of Cinema”, if you will.

    Anyways, might peep this new Spidey on home video for the Keaton Quiotent but nothing else I’ve read about the film sounds even vaguely appealing to me.

  61. Come to think of it, RRA, you’re probly right. Feige might be saying that she IS the MCU version of Mary Jane Watson, in that there is no Mary Jane, there’s MJ, a very different character who could fulfill the role in a different way.

  62. Crushinator Jones

    July 12th, 2017 at 11:05 am

    They’re 300 million dollar movies and they are ultimately beholden to the enthusiast press and mouthy online types. The enthusiast press and fanboys have responded to anything more challenging than a Saturday morning cartoon with “I hate this.”

  63. Yeah I definitely took it as there won’t be a Mary Jane Watson in this universe and this MJ will end up as her surrogate. I guess they wanted to go as far away from the relationship dynamic they had in the Raimi movies and comic books as much as possible. For the sake of making this iteration of that coupling more of it’s own unique thing and not just another repetitive adaptation.

  64. Vern – Hell don’t be shocked if they ever decide to redo Gwen Stacy, they’ll just do Spider-Gwen instead (but probably without the alternate reality aspect.) Not that version has done much for me but she has something going for her: a memorable costume. She would fit in that familiar-but-different vibe they’re trying to go after with this new series.

    It’s funny but the THR article about this movie weeks ago basically said that part 3 of this planned trilogy would be the big budget blow out entry.

  65. The question is costume aside could Spider-Gwen actually work in the MCU without her “Peter died cause of mecand I carry the weight off that on my shoulders”?

    Because without that she’d probably just be Spider-Girl and come across as redundant. If ever they really want to diversify a bit and organically include a younger heroine in the MCU I say just bring in RiRi when RDJ decides to finally step down. Which is likely pretty soon.

  66. Broddie – or alternatively, Silk

  67. I really enjoyed that this was as much a “John Hughes-style” teen movie as it was a superhero movie. Seeing not just Spider-Man but a superhero in general from a young perspective was refreshing. I also loved the tie-ins to the MCU(Cap’s PSAs, Pepper Potts cameo). Michael Keaton’s vulture was a great villain. The scene in the car was just chilling. I think only people who live in the Midwest think they went too “PC” with the diverse casting. To me it actually looks like a movie set in NYC or any big city on either coast.

    The Raimi Spider-Man movies captured the essential Spidey lore and mythology, the origin, the death of Ben Parker, J. Jonah Jameson, Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus, Mary Jane.
    The Andrew Garfield Spider-Mans weren’t as great but it did do the Gwen Stacy death story pretty well. I don’t think you can top Emma Stone as Gwen.

  68. renfield- I can back you up a little bit over THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, but only a little. As several critics pointed out it does feel more like a pre-MCU, pre-BATMAN BEGINS superhero/comic book movie, for better (it feels like more of a unique “event” in and of itself) and worse (it’s sloppy in structure, often tasteless and sometimes downright asinine). Sorry to say, Electro is one of my major issues (Spoilers here I guess?), not really the performance or design, or even that it’s hard not to think of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma with his arc, more that he’s set-up as this tragic figure, who becomes a glorified henchman and then he just… dies. Disappears. No one cares. Which is a microcosm of the real issue with the film as a whole; there is way, way too much in the movie, to the extent that none of it feels fully realised or ever reaches its full potential. Still, it was a fun time, and I suspect it might actually be more enjoyable now that you know a lot of the films it spends so much time setting up won’t actually happen (except Venom, maybe).

    Never cared for JUST SPIDER-MAN 2 at all. I’ve never felt quite so out of touch with the movie going public as I did seeing that in cinemas and coming home to find out that everyone was digging it, even the critics. Clearly I was missing something for people to have enjoyed it so much then and recall it so fondly over a decade later, but I gave it two shots back in the 00s, and it just seemed annoying to me, with some genuinely contrived plotting. Why does he take his mask off on that train? It’s too hot? Makes sense using real life logic maybe, but really seemed like just an excuse to expose his identity in the context of the film.

    I guess my detached relationship with the Rami films is why I was OK with the AMAZINGs, even if on paper the former is what I’m all about and the latter was a cynical attempt to take out the quirks for maximum hipness, Box Office and merchandise. Maybe I should give the Ramis a revisit. But there’s a lot of stuff to watch.

    Seeing HOMECOMING next weekend, quite looking forward to it even though I’m an MCU agnostic. I still feel the definitive Spider-Man film has yet to be made, suspect this wont be it for me but I look forward to seeing them try.

  69. Crushinator Jones

    July 13th, 2017 at 7:58 am

    @Pacman2.0

    “Why does he take his mask off on that train? It’s too hot?”

    Yes, it has burning embers on it and he takes it off because who wears a cloth mask on their face with burning embers in it? After they are done smoldering he could put the mask back on but unfortunately he gets a little occupied.

    (Of course, the real reason is because Parker’s dramatic performance wouldn’t read through the mask)

  70. I think I must finally have reached saturation with comic book movies, because I enjoyed this one well enough, but just couldn’t ever quite get past how unambitious it feels. I read Andreas’s above comment about how ” There is not one memorable shot, no stunning composition, no ambitioned filmmaking, no risktaking in this. It’s just there and so competently made that it’s hard to be really angry about it.” a while before I saw it, and thought it seemed needless grouchy. What, it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, man, just be glad one of these tells a semi-coherent story for once. But having seen it, I can’t help but feel like I agree with him. Yes, this one is perfectly competent, it even has some chuckles and likeable characters and stuff, and maybe Marvel’s best ever villain after Loki. But man, I just don’t know if I can get excited anymore about something with this many resources which sets its sights for “competent, mid-level teen adventure movie.” It’s pretty ridiculous at this point to ask a big studio movie to take any risks, but jeez, is it too much to ask for even some exciting cinematography? There’s not an image in this movie which would stand out on a comic page. Isn’t this a visual medium? The only intentional use of the camera in the whole thing is a few comedy beats, like the long shot of Spidey running across the park. These movies just feel like very, very expensive TV shows by this point. Where is the actual cinema here, I ask? Whatever its many, many problems, BATMAN VS SUPERMAN understands the fundamentally visual medium of both comic and cinema in a way the Marvel films increasingly do not.

  71. Crushinator Jones

    July 14th, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    “There’s not an image in this movie which would stand out on a comic page.”

    Will you guys please stop erasing the “Spider-Man eats a sandwich on a fire escape at sunset” shot, which would ABSOLUTELY be a full two-page splash image? It’s a really great shot.

    While I absolutely agree 100% that this movie’s cinematography is seriously lacking throughout, they do manage a couple of decent shots/moments. And then they have that final battle, which is a murky, New Hollywood Action-style muddle.

  72. I always felt the Marvel Studios movies felt very visually subdued and bland considering the scales of their at times epic narratives.

    It was most insulting with THOR which had a master of visual poetry (Branagh) at the helm as well as THE INCREDIBE HULK because it’s about the damn HULK. That’s why I threw in the towel for a bit after THE AVENGERS and never really looked back till this one.

    However I did think for the most part that the more grounded but dull visual element here didn’t bother me too much. It fit in with the more everyman element of the main character and his supporting players.

    Also I think it was Crushinator that mentioned it but the eating the sandwich on the fire escape scene with it’s big contrasts in the backdrop felt like something out of the Spidey bool visually.

    You’d find lots of panels like that with Parker doing the most mundane stuff in suit but the background & surroundings always had something that caught your eye. There was one issue of the comic series PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN from many years back that I remember having a lot of that. Mainly because the entire issue is him speaking to Uncle Ben at his grave intercut with flashbacks.

    Outside of that though I do think were they failed and should’ve aced it visually was the web swinging. It’s one thing to give us visually boring but serviceable action with no unique voice just generic beats but the web swinging sequences is where this character thrives. They must be chockful of personality.

    I never saw the AMAZING SPIDER-MANs so I can’t speak for Marc Webb. However I honestly believe a big reason Raimi’s movie caught on so huge was partly due to the fact that his web swinging scenes nailed it.

    They were jovial and full of character. Kinetic and vibrant thanks to Raimi’s signature idiosyncrasies when it comes to fraiming visuals. All that shit from THE EVIL DEAD to DARKMAN and even A SIMPLE PLAN led to his Spidey trilogy.

    That’s why so many people felt he was the perfect director for Spider-Man. He was the one who was really able to capture the magic when Spidey is at his most free and uninhibited because he himself has always captured visuals in a very free and uninhibited manner.

  73. Crushinator Jones

    July 14th, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    When I saw that aforementioned fire escape scene my thinking was “ah-ha! they are going to shoot this movie like a television show except for the Spidey parts, which are going to have these big epic splash images interspersed through them” but then…they didn’t.

  74. “Where is the actual cinema here, I ask? Whatever its many, many problems, BATMAN VS SUPERMAN understands the fundamentally visual medium of both comic and cinema in a way the Marvel films increasingly do not.”

    Mr. Subtlety – I’m sorry but regardless of how one thinks of DR STRANGE and GOTGv2, to call them visually bland is just fucking ridiculous.

  75. Crush — I was actually looking out for that scene because I saw you mentioned it before I watched the movie. But then I never noticed it, so it can’t have been that great, right?

    Broddie — 140% agree with you about Raimi’s seemingly intuitive understanding about how to make web-slinging feel kinetic and exciting all by itself, and 500% agree with you that it’s a huge part of the appeal of his three swings at the web-slinger. None are perfect movies, but no one else has even come close to his ability to create visually exciting comic book action. For all the money they have to throw at the screen, he simply made it count more. There are beautiful, iconic shots peppered throughout all three of his films, even the dumbest ones, which the Marvel films don’t seem to even be interested in attempting.

    RRA- fair point. STRANGE’s trippy visuals are pretty cool, and only canceled out by the unbearable blandness of everything else. And I haven’t seen GOTG 2, but I generally regard the first one as the exception to the rule, since even though it’s seldom beautiful there’s almost always something cool to look at (similar to the approach Broddie talks about above in PETER PARKER: SPIDER MAN). But that’s not a lot of exceptions.

  76. I agree with Subtlety on the “visual blandness” of Marvel issue. The colour palette of GOTG2 is really vibrant, but in terms of blocking and compositions, it’s pretty basic. This was actually my main issue with DC’s WONDER WOMAN, which I liked overall. It was more coherent than BvS, but lacked the commitment to spectacle.

  77. Crushinator Jones

    July 14th, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    “Crush — I was actually looking out for that scene because I saw you mentioned it before I watched the movie. But then I never noticed it, so it can’t have been that great, right?”

    Goddamn I guess not! It stood out to me immediately because it was a real nice, bold, dramatic shot that framed Spider-Man at the far, far right of the screen with the city spread out before him.

  78. Mr. Subtlety – I only mentioned it because of your use of “increasing” in context considering those two came out before HC, which is a return to that MCU house style.

    Mark Palermo – not even the battle scene in the 2nd act of WW?

  79. RRA – There’s some nicely done imagery here and there. It may be a larger issue for me of it being a coherent visual package from beginning to end. Like, the standard comic book movie’s style seems to ebb and flow a lot (unlike the Burton BATMANs, BLADE 2, THE CROW, etc.) and there’s not much sense of rhythm in the storytelling. I just find some of these movies sort of shapeless–like cobbled together episodes of a Netflix show. But I WANT to believe, man! :P

    I don’t want to pick on Wonder Woman, specifically, because I really related to her values as a superhero, when I often don’t in these movies, and I had fun watching it.

  80. Finally got to see this today and mostly really liked it. I haven’t gotten to read all of the comments yet (there are a lot), so apologies if this has already been mentioned:

    Regarding the mention of him not being a photographer in the review, I think that they hinted at him eventually going down that path by opening the movie with his home made cellphone video (and likely having set up a phone for some of those YouTube videos. Maybe he won’t become a traditional photographer but I think he’ll do something camera related. And he never did have an answer for when Toomes asked him what he wants to do.

  81. As far as the MJ thing, I felt the same way about it as I did the Robin thing in Dark Knight Rises, which means I found it distracting and annoying. I have no problem with changing characters up from their comic book versions, whether that be in how they look or act, but doing this thing where a character with a different name who in no way evokes a certain character then name drops that they are that character in an ending Easter egg just feels like a silly bait and switch to me.

  82. Crush — Sorry, didn’t mean for that to sound harsh. Maybe I got distracted or something when it came up? There was an annoying guy checking his cell phone right in front of me and I was giving him the death stare whenever he pulled it out.

    RRA — update: saw GotG2 tonight, and you’re right, it looks pretty good. The scene of the reavers approaching the crashed ship in the woods with the lights converging is, by itself, much more painterly than anything in HOMECOMING, and that’s practically sedate compared to the rainbow-sherbert palette of everything else. There’s still a lot of compositions which are pretty pedestrian (albeit colorful and generally full of nifty detail), but at least Gunn knows to have everybody pose heroically for a few seconds in front of a huge battle. Even the laziest comic book artist would know to do that, but lots of the Marvel movies seem to whiff on it.

  83. It took us a while to get comic book movies that look like real movies and not some super stylized, hyper colourful, dutch angle filled, “Make it look like a comic, because it’s for kids” stuff and now you are complaining that they aren’t stylish enough?

  84. I like it though when comic book movies try to look like comic books, in fact I’d say that was the only thing I liked about AMAZING SPIDER MAN was the eye popping colors.

  85. But CJ — those comics are colorful and stylized, and they are for kids. I dont see why the movies should be so fundamentally apologetic about their source material, which is, ultimately, primarily visual. Why in the world would we try and take fun, ridiculously exaggerated childrens’ fantasies and make them less visually dynamic? Why try and paper over a flying Norseman or a guy wearing a mask with bat ears on it with bland images? Certainly not in service of “realism” in any definition I can imagine.

  86. Now I’m confused. Is the problem the old “cool looking comic book images (Like Thor’s helmet) are changed because they look silly in movies” or “Marvel movies don’t look like BATMAN & ROBIN”?

    Because frankly, the only Marvel movies that I would consider visually bland and unappealing, are the DTV looking Leterrier Hulk and the Russo Brothers’ Captain Shakycam movies. (I really am not looking forward for the next Avengers movies) Okay, none of the Marvel directors so far are known for their strong and unique visual style, but I don’t know what’s so bad about them not looking like a Tim Burton, Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Wes Anderson movie.

    Are we really so desperate to find negative things to say about a movie series, that gave us almost 10 strong years of the competently made and super fun comic book movie entertainment that we always hoped for but never expected to happen, that we now have to point at the screen and say: “Ugh, I wish they would take a lesson or two from German expressionism or at least flashy music videos, because that kind of highly entertaining spectacle bores my eyeballs”.

  87. And this is why I don’t talk about comic book movies anymore.

    “So… you want a realistic, down-to-Earth show… that’s completely off the wall and swarming with magic robots?”

    The Simpsons - Itchy & Scratchy focus group

    Hilarious scene where Lisa inadvertently gives Meyers the idea of Poochie

  88. CJ — I’m not looking for Jodorowsky here. A Ridley Scott would do just fine. In other words, just because this is silly is no reason it can’t look nice, have a few carefully composed images and the occasional swing at crafting a nicely iconic heroic pose. I’ve enjoyed the Marvels for the most part, but I just can’t get behind movies which are this expensive which seem to devote virtually no thought whatsoever to the visual craft which is so intrinsically important to their source material and, once upon a time, cinema.

    Again, I’m just talking about visuals here. The Marvel movies have done well because they’ve nailed the ingratiating characters and steroid-soap-opera storytelling which is the other half of comic books (in particular, their casting has been so hugely on-point that even a boring, ugly movie can hardly end up utterly unentertaining. But it’s hardly realistic plotting or characterization, so why not be a little bolder with the style? I wouldn’t want a Marvel movie which is written as stupidly as BATMAN + ROBIN, but I would certainly enjoy one with similar visual ambition.

  89. CJ, they don’t have to look like movies by those specific directors, but they’re not very visual films, and (like Majestyk) I tend to shut up on the subject of these movies because it’s obvious the majority of the internet doesn’t give a shit about that criticism. When I watch a movie, I want to have a unique experience, and enter a fully realized world for two hours before returning to my own reality, which is the main reason I prefer the self-containment (presumably) of movies over TV series. But having a visual language doesn’t necessitate being “for kids” or necessarily cartoonish. It’s just style. Style is good. Honestly, I’m jealous of people who like the Marvel movies so much, and I’m always seeking other avenues into liking them better.

  90. I think Ang Lee’s vastly underrated HULK has a unique visual style. Seems to be the most forgotten Marvel film in history, for some reason. It nails dramatic beats and character moments better than a lot of what’s come after, all the while showing through split screens and panels that it comes from a comic. It’s a win-win.

  91. That HULK is not nearly as forgotten as say ELEKTRA or The Thomas Jane PUNISHER or well, THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

  92. I can understand ELEKTRA and TIH being superfluous in Marvel’s cinematic evolution. The early to late 2000’s were a testing ground I guess. And it’s only proper to pretend the FANTASTIC FOUR’s don’t exist. But HULK had a qualified artist who did something different visually, and with a measured pace. I remember seeing it with some (non-comic reading like me) mates who were conflicted about it. One thought it was too slow with not enough Hulk moments, another really dug the at-the-time inventive visual style.

    It’s the same reason I still like the Raimi Spiderman’s to varying degrees, they were made by an interesting and unique director, and mostly succeeded to give us that cinematic experience as well as the comic tropes.

  93. The first hulk movie was vastly better than the Ed Norton one. At least it had a sense of fun.
    I mean, it had a hulked out toy dog! I’ve only ever seen that elsewhere in Blade Trinity, with its evil pomeranian. Wish more Marvel movies included that as a kind of signature; Just about the one thing that could get me to watch Infinity War in the cinema would be to hear that the avengers almost die in a fight against Thanos’s bichon frise…
    Now I think about it, in both movies there were three mutant dogs, one toy breed and two tougher ones. Wonder if it’s a callback or something.

  94. Still haven’t seen HOMECOMING but wanted to chime in on the ‘visual talk.’ I’ve been noticing for a while now that the these big expensive movies are starting to seem to look blander and blander and thus movies with a lot of visual flair really stand out to me more and makes me be more lenient on them than I should. See: my thoughts on BATMANvSUPERMAN, ALIEN: COVENANT, GHOST IN THE SHELL etc. I mean it’s better when the movie is also good but I appreciate more and more when directors put elbow grease into the movie’s look and blocking. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m being so nice to TRANSFORMERS MEET THE LAST KNIGHT, there are some generally jaw-dropping cinematography in it and it has a feeling of being epic instead of me just zoning out. I mean it’s still a terrible movie by every measurement of quality ever but at least it looks great (even with ugly robot designs) and has a feeling of bigness that I rarely get out of those these huge budgeted movies anymore.

    I’m with Mark on Marvel. I keep trying to love these Marvel movies but I almost always walk away with a ‘that’s okay I guess.’ Only exception has been IRON MAN THREE. The other one I mostly liked from beginning to end was AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON. AKA the two I legit enjoyed and can remember are the two that the fans have issues with (since they can’t be bothered to remember that THE INCREDIBLE HULK exists). Other than that they tend to start up good and then I end up feeling the third act/climax is crap (funnily the first AVENGERS reversed that) and then I struggle to remember if I saw them or not. I mean over all they are fine and the only ones I didn’t like are the two THOR movies. I used to be an asshole because of my inability to enjoy them as much as everyone else but now I’m fine with being the one guy who enjoys them but do not think they are the gemstones of modern mainstream cinema that everyone else feels they are. No point to pissing on someone else’s joyful parade.

    Mr. M: I adopted your don’t talk about STAR WARS or superhero movies-view in real life and I’m much better for it. I’ve even adapted it to some other things I like/love and it works out great. Thanks!

    Troy: I’ve always been a big cheerleader of Lee’s HULK since I saw it in theaters. It’s a movie I will defend again and again. It’s fun and gimmicky visual style is a big reason for that. To bring it back to the discussion I know of some people that absolutely hate the comic panel editing and feel that it’s demeaning to the audience or something. Naturally these same guys have no problem with the Marvel Studios visual style and feel Snyder’s direction and cinematography is bug and not a feature.

  95. The Hulk Poodle is part of a trend I’ve noticed over the last fifteen years where one of the more enjoyable and unique moments in a film somehow gets transformed by the internet into a shorthand for what’s wrong with a movie. See also: “nuking the fridge” and dancing in Spiderman 3. And it really warms my heart to see all of this love for Ang Lee’s Hulk.

    As far as Marvel movies go, I agree with what everyone has already said about their mostly nondescript visual style. I’ve enjoyed most Marvel films, however. And I do think those films shine when it comes to their screenplays. They must have a brain trust of writers just for the quips alone. I rewatched Civil War, and I do think it’s a well constructed narrative that does a lot of juggling, but manages to make everything fit. It’s actually quite impressive. And Marvel’s ability to extend a larger narrative across multiple films is nearly unheard of in the world of movies, at least as far as I’m aware. But, yeah, their movies also look really boring.

  96. The MCU films have an uncanny batting average for:
    a) writing great comedic-but-character-appropriate dialog
    and
    b) getting near perfect actors to embody them.

    I mean, holy shit, it’s an amazing run of really really likable, funny movies. So major props for that. Unfortunately, on the main they seem to have left everything else in the wayside: good storytelling, visuals, music… they’re not even trying to do anything interesting on that side. The whole shared world is incredibly ambitious, too, but that in itself isn’t something that makes the movies better; I mean, interconnectedness didn’t make the Saw sequels any more watchable.
    The exceptions are usually the movies that have the least connections to the MCU at large, or that are made by directors with a strong enough voice to break through the house style. Often both at the same time. But the rest… just run together in my mind into a sort of bland, shapeless blob.
    And it is a problem for me, because I would love to like, say, Civil War as much as most people do – I mean, on paper I should adore the airport scene or that first chase where he flips the motorcycle. Either one of those done well would have maybe made me sit up and overlook the rest of the film’s problems… but nope. There’s stuff I like the sound of in there, but it’s completely indifferently shot; they threw tons of money at it but no love.

    Taking this back to Homecoming, the comments here have pretty much convinced me to wait until it gets to netflix or something. Sorry Vern!

  97. I should probably follow suit and not get into Marvel discussions here.

    But you guys are so weird. I feel Dr Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America are all visually different from one another due to the different directors. However I think you do need to have some similatries so it’s not jarring from film to film. I’m pretty sure when all the DC movies are done they will have a similar visual palette but enough differences due to the directors.

    This is why I wish Vern would go back to reviewing more DTV and action films because the discussions tend to not be so argumentative. I love reading all Verns reviews btw.

  98. And again, I still don’t really know what the visual problem with the Marvel movies is. Maybe it’s because Greengrass and others, who made their big studio movies look like they got hit on the head and thought that America’s Funniest Homevideos is the standard in camerawork, lowered the bar so much, but outside of the examples I mentioned (Leterrier HULK and the Russos’ CAP AMERICA movies, for those who don’t wanna scroll up), they all looked like movies that put their money visibly on screen. Yes, I wouldn’t mind if a director goes the extra mile for some extra visual sparkle, but again, in 99% of all MCU movies, I never thought “Damn, this looks like an uninspired TV show”.

  99. CJ, I agree with you except I thought the editing was just fine in Winter Soldier. Also, I think the Airport battle shows everything going on and you have total sense of geography during it. I think Infinity Wars will be edited differently to differentiate it from the Cap movies though.

  100. RBatty: Forgot to mention in my prior post, it’s not just the Hulk-Poodle that’s brought up as a ‘everything wrong with HULK’ thing. The cheesy freeze-frame shot of Josh Lucas is often brought up now-a-days as well. It’s so silly and cheesy and was, like the cartoony CGI*, a deliberate artistic chose to go with the movie’s visual style. I see it brought up time-and-time again as an example of how inept Ang Lee is as a filmmaker that he “allowed” that shot in the movie.

    *I read a thing not long ago that ILM was quietly pissed about that choice. They apparently made an ‘incredible’ (haha) life-like and realistic digital actor for the movie and Lee told them to make look cartoonier. Apparently it riled their feathers even worse when INCREDIBLE came out and a lot of people complicated it’s digital Hulk and talked about how much better it was than ILM’s.

  101. I actually really love the “baby faced” Hulk from Ang Lee’s movie. It actually looks like a mutated monster Eric Bana.

    It reminded me a lot of the Banner Hulk from the comic book with some elements of Savage Hulk. Can’t say the same about TIH at all. That thing looked nothing like Ed Norton or any iconic comic book Hulk to me.

    Also the skin texture and color was also far superior to the TIH. I also feel the animation was far more realistic and full of weight. TIH looked like he was gliding sometimes and the physics in the final fight were bogus compared to Lee’s Hulk Vs. Army sequence.

    Before THE AVENGERS it was pretty much the most perfect iteration in terms of appearance outside the comic book. So it’s funny to read so many complained. There I go being perfectly in touch with so called geekdom again. The fact that it was Lee’s choice and not ILM’s makes me respect him even more tbh. He did the right thing.

  102. So I’ve CASPERed, or whatever expression we’re using these days, all of the previous SPIDER-MAN films in the past week (AMAZINGs first, then the Ramis), ahead of seeing SPIDEY COME HOME this Saturday.

    My main thoughts:
    1) I know it’s been Pierce Brosnan’d into the “we’re agreed we never liked any of these” category (ironically, where the Rami films were heading at the time) but I still really like THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. As much as retelling the origin story was ridiculous, I like the way they do it, and I really like Sheen and Field as his surrogate parents. There are hints of pandering granted, and the Lizard is a weak point admittedly, though I love Rhys Ifans (and there is one deleted scene which would have helped a lot), but villain motivation isn’t really a strong point in any of these films (bar maybe SPIDER-MAN 3).
    2) I do now get why SPIDER-MAN 2 is considered a great comic book movie, and the best of the lot, although I do wonder why it’s championed by the same people who dismiss Richard Lester’s career based on what he did with SUPERMAN 2. It’s corny in its earnestness and broad in its humour, although that (more so the first part) is what I like about it most in 2017, along with the more distinctive Rami flourishes and broader scope.
    3) When you are a SPIDER-MAN 2 fan, yeah, I can see why the third is kind of bad. However, it’s still intermittently enjoyable as a big-scale movie with some great action and cool imagery not quite like anything you’ve seen before. It’s a bit of a cliched “hot take” but, yes, a lot of the stuff most commonly crowed over (jerk/emo/dancer Peter, even Venon’s arc and his wimpy alter-ego) is actually some of the more successful stuff. God knows why Peter’s strut has become such a piece of SharkJump iconography, when it follows hot off the heels of the IMO far more embarrassing, less in character and less thematically appropriate scene where MJ and Harry cook/dance to THE TWIST (it also foreshadows another cringeworthy scene in a more recent nerd bete-noire). At least they dug up a cool James Brown deep-cut for the strut!
    4) 2MAZING is also a bad movie, but enjoyable in the same way as the later TRANSFORMERS movies (and, yes, the Schumacher BATMANs), and for me for its utterly unfashionable approach to the superhero movie format. It’s certainly not as admirable as SPIDER-MAN 3, but probably an easier watch. I don’t really agree with critics that Garfield and Stone’s chemistry is the saving grace though; the first, yes, but here it just feels forced to me, dating in real life or not.

    Even though I had/have a pile of other stuff calling me and I felt a bit silly doing this, I feel this was a worthwhile CASPER. The only downside is I feel this will raise my cynicism reflexes for MARVEL 17, but we’ll see.

    As a side-note; remember what a big deal the 3 seconds with the American flag was in SPIDER-MAN 3? What would the reaction to that be like today? Or in 2014?

  103. Seeing all the movies in a series is called Casper? I don’t approve lol

  104. I think CJ coined “to CASPER/CASPERing etc.” for rewatching/revisting a movie back during Vern’s Summer of 95 retrospective back in that more innocent age of 2015

  105. Context: Vern reviewed CASPER and because of this I immediately rewatched the movie. Since then I refer to “rewatching a movie because Vern published a review of it not too long ago” as “Caspering”. Yeah, I too wish it would have the name of a cooler movie, but it’s the first time I invented something that actually caught on, so how dare you to not approve!

  106. I now approve knowing the context.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>