Director: Jon Watts (USA). Year of Release: 2021
We start with a voice over telling us that Spider Man has killed Mysterioso. There are also references to Captain America, Iron Man and God knows how many other characters who won’t actually appear in this film, but you’ve got to namecheck them to sell the merchandise. Whatever, it’s all just a list of names to me.
If you’ve ever been in a 10-hour discussion between teenage boys about who’s the best guitarist ever, followed by one of similar length about who’s the best bass player, then who’s the best Bez (Bez, obvs), then this is what it must feel like to anyone who reluctantly overhears what you’ve been arguing with such intensity. I hereby apologise to anyone who was forced to listen to my mid-teenage years. It won’t happen again, honest.
If you do want to know why Spidey is now a murder suspect, apparently it’s all in a previous film. All you need to know here is that half the world thinks that Spider Man is a murderer and the other half thinks he’s a hero. Oh, and everyone knows that he’s Peter Parker, who isn’t a cub reporter any more (when did that change?).
The immediate ramifications of this is that Parker, his best friend and his girlfriend all get refused entry to MIT. This is because of … Plot I guess. We’ve already heard that they’ve also been rejected by two other – presumably lesser – Universities, but no-one stops to consider this. But everything can be easily solved by Spidey stopping the car of the Vice President of MIT on her way to the airport and asking her to give them a second chance. Yes, that’s how things always work.
While he is trying to persuade the VP, a strange being from a different dimension arrives and makes a mess of the queue of cars on the freeway. Spidey then contacts a magician (Dr Strange, if you’re buying the toys which accompany the film) and asks him to cast a spell to make everyone forget him, because apparently this will deter the strange being. But because of Spidey’s dithering and more Plot, suddenly New York is full of alien beings.
Full of? Well, there are 4 of them. Maybe 5, I’d kind of lost interest by then. Dr Strange sends Spidey and friends out to find them using the Internet or something, but they have no idea why these creatures are coming and how many of them there are. Nonetheless after they find an appropriate number, they just stop looking. There’s a lot of this in the film – following a strand then just giving up. Which at least saves us from an even longer and even more boring film.
Spidey decides that rather than sending the Strange Beings back to their own dimension, he must first cure them. This is because … look, just stop asking awkward questions. They are all suffering from different ailments, which of course we know nothing about, apart from the fact that Spidey knows how to cure each one. Later there will be a session with test tubes and bunsen burners and bubbling liquids and goggles because, science.
I have seen a couple of Marvel films. There was one of the Iron Man ones, which was actually pretty good as they’d decided to spend some of the huge budget on a scriptwriter. There was one that was about 10 hours long, but still seemed to consist of 10 minute segments where each character did something that had no bearing on the rest of the plot. And there was the one which thought it was a good idea to fight racism with the help of the CIA.
And if you want to point out that one or other of the above was not by Marvel, but by a different franchise, not only do I not care, but I want it in writing that if you and I ever go to the cinema together, I’m the one who decides what we go to see.
So why did I bother with it at all? Well, partly because of a nostalgia for the Saturday morning cartoon on children’s tv. And partly because I hadn’t realised how entangled every single film in the franchise has become with every single other. I don’t want to sound like an old man shouting at clouds, but it does feel more like a cross-promotion venture than anything that worries about things like plot or intelligibilty.
The whole thing goes along like it was written by a 12-year old on ADHD who’s taken too many vitamin pills. This is apart from when it starts to refer to things like String Theory and feels more like it’s been written by a 17 year old. This is not necessarily an improvement. Late teenagers do know a little more than they had a few years before, but they think they know a LOT more which means that they spend way too much time spouting meaningless bullshit.
For most of the film, Spidey is a weedy geek, who is able to perform super human acts through the simple act of spinning webs. Then, towards the end, he’s involved in a fist fight with someone who is tooled up and just batters the shit out of them. There are a lot of fist fights, a lot of big men hitting each other, I do know that many people enjoy watching this sort of stuff, and I’m happy to let them just get on with it while I do something else.