Superhero Movies Critique: Spider-Man: No Way Home
I, Dalton Lewis, wanted to talk about the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe flick, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Spoilers below — watch the movie before you read the article. Please. Okay. Now you watched the movie; now read what I thought. I decided to use a numbered list.
- The plot revolves around Peter Parker’s desire to hide his identity as a superhero. It’s not about someone trying to destroy the planet with a giant laser. That’s been done. Instead Peter’s old selves and enemies arrive to interact with him. The plot’s crux surrounds Peter’s personal problems and desires and his hatred of fame and his anxiety with being famous and known by everyone. This is a smart decision. Many younger, less experienced writers have the plot surround a bad guy with a master plan instead of a problem for the protagonist. Smart.
- Someone dies, and Peter is left without any adults alive in his life — except for the Avengers, who do not seem available to chit-chat for lunch regularly or anything. This hollow life that Peter has is devastating. He has lost almost everyone by the end of the story — it’s an ironic happy ending in that his heart is ripped out and he loses everyone and becomes an adult. He beats the bad guys, sure; he just loses everything while he does it. This is a tragedy, not a comedy.
- Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire show up, and they are fantastic. They are a delight to watch because they are caring, kind people who want to help. They are both Spider-Man just the same as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. They are great because they are quiet and nice and flawed and smart and giving and wonderful and because they aren’t perfect or godlike or boring people: we care about them. At the same time I worry that other studios and writers will learn the wrong lesson and bring in old characters for the sake of stupid cameos. I’m all against most crossovers. They sound great but need to function as a part of a cohesive story. This story works because of the villains.
- The villains! They are troubled and disturbed people who want to be good people but failed somewhere along the way. This is a nice superhero story in which it isn’t about killing anyone — it’s about saving them. Although it is frighteningly naive it is nice and kind and I give it a pass because Peter’s a teenager. I am a mentally ill writer in real life so I understand — I do. I understand the desire to see everyone as a person who can be saved. I enjoy that very much; too often the suspect in these crimes is mentally ill and considered a monster who needs to be locked up or killed. This is a nice change in which the bad guys need saving. Thank you, Marvel.
- And on to the bad. No, just kidding. This is a rare movie in which not much goes wrong. It’s popular for a reason — it’s a feel-good movie about a wonderful character saving people and being wonderful. I wonder about MJ — I wonder about her. She loves Peter Parker because she’s an antisocial cynic and he’s a smart, good person. That’s great. I can see them together. I just think that I don’t believe for a second that he can just leave her and leave her and Ned to live their lives without him. He ends the story totally, completely alone.
- The action sequences? We expect perfection and get it. We know to expect great effects and big fights from Marvel. We get that and are glad to get it.
- Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is like the Swiss-Army Knife of Marvel characters. He shows up in all sorts of places and helps the plot along beautifully and puts in a workmanlike performance as he does it.
- People can die in Marvel and not come back. That’s progress for the MCU. In real life everyone dies eventually, and that is the central tragedy of life on Earth in the current age. Tony Stark is dead, Mae Parker is dead, Peter’s parents are dead, and I doubt that they are coming back anytime soon. I’m proud of them, showing that death is a terrible and real thing that they need to deal with.
- Ned is the best friend. He’s a loyal best friend. He’s someone we like and cheer for, I suppose, which is great. He just needs something more.
- In conclusion, this is the happiest, most optimistic, most loving movie about someone losing everyone and everything that I have ever seen. I mean, he loses everything. I’ve lost people — it sucks. I’ve lost family members — grandparents and the like. I’ve lost friends. I know that someone losing everything around the age of eighteen is a metaphor for going into the adult world and leaving everything behind. It’s still a brutal, unconscionable thing for the MCU writers to do to Peter Parker. It’s also a smart decision for them. It’s a good story.
Let me know if you want more of these.
Thanks, and take care, friends.