Photo: The Spider-verse
Have you ever had a dream where the most random collection of people in your life combine for one mega-event? Your old babysitter, your high school Spanish teacher, a coworker, and your second cousin are all conversing in this dream and it makes sense in a way but also feels kind of… weird?
This feeling of familiarity but under bizarre circumstances is pretty much how the newest MCU addition ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ felt to me. In the comic book world (or if you understand theoretical physics way more than I do), there is a multiverse; a place where infinite universes exist simultaneously. There is usually one universe that is typically the focus, but in other universes, there are limitless alternate realities. “In Marvel Comics there’s a universe where Bruce Banner becomes Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker, one where everyone in the world has superpowers, and one where all of Marvel’s heroes are talking animals,” explained Looper.
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ both address the concept of a multiverse, or a spider-verse as it’s called in the movies, and it results in the meeting Spider-Mans in a way that’s amazing and also gives my brain the hiccups.
“We are living through box office history and a moment that will be referenced for years to come. ‘No Way Home’ took command of movie theaters around the world and captivated an audience hungry for the kind of pure cinematic escapist fun that only the communal environment of the movie theater can provide,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore according to CNBC.
No Way Home
On December 17th the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe phase four was released theatrically. Directed by Jon Watts and written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, in only a few days the film has skyrocketed to one of the highest domestic box office openings. Opening at 3:00 pm Thursday, by the end of the day it had already grossed $50 million. “That was the third-best preview number behind only ‘Avengers: Endgame’ ($60 million) and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ ($57 million), the two highest-grossing domestic films of all time,” according to Rotten Tomatoes. It has already made history for the highest-grossing film during the Covid-era.
“Given the Sunday night estimates we’re hearing for ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, it looks as though the Sony/Marvel movie is on the verge of overtaking Disney/Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ as the second-best domestic box office opening of all-time with $257.64M-$260.6M,” reported Deadline.
The film takes place following the battle between Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Spider-Man in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’. The friendly neighborhood superhero’s identity has been revealed to the public, and many people are not happy with him. In fact, they think he’s more of a criminal than a hero. No longer protected under anonymity, his Spider-Man responsibilities and Peter’s normal life collide and it puts those who know him personally in danger.
He turns to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help restoring his secret. In the process of casting a spell though, something goes wrong and tears a hole in their world. This allows villains who have fought Spider-man in any universe in. If you’re really trying to steer away from any spoilers of the film, perhaps this isn’t the article for you. Just a warning though.
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This means that a nostalgic return of villains like Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) to name a few. Doctor Strange has a way to send them back to their rightful places, but when Peter learns that means they will return to their imminent death he naively believes that he can cure and ultimately save them. “It makes a refreshing change from the mass-destruction schemes of most superhero films. And, in its noble naivety, Peter’s plan brings the story of Spider-Man back to the theme which defined the original comics: the sacrifices, painful consequences and great responsibilities that come with great power,” said the BBC.
The monsters work as both comic relief as well as, well, normal villains. Alongside their return comes their respective Peter’s from their universe. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield join Tom Holland in a truly awesome experience.
Another Marvel Hit
While it may seem like everything the MCU touches succeeds, it’s not necessarily the case. I found myself to be engrossed by the story for the entire 2 hours and 28 minutes run time. My friend, who doesn’t enjoy superhero films and has never seen any (any!) Spider-man movie also enjoyed the film despite not knowing any of the references. To me, that’s a testament to both the superb acting, writing, and visuals. But what makes it seriously that good?
With the budget and the resources they have, it’s no surprise that the visual effects are absolutely astounding. I don’t think there’s ever been a Marvel movie that lacked this, but the action sequences and reality-bending are especially notable. “The action sequences in No Way Home are fast and frenetic yet always coherent, and the post-Inception, city-twisting digital effects are spectacular,” reviewed the BBC.
The characters are dynamic, engaging, and layered. Each role, big or small, good or evil, has at least some humorous dialogue and a story to tell. Peter, MJ, and Ned’s conversations with a gang of villains were funny, smart, and moved the story forward without ever being redundant or predictable. “The references to what we might call Spider-Man Parts One to Eight are reliant on the nostalgic loyalty of Spider-fans, but they also enrich the new film, increasing its emotional depth and range. They even enhance the earlier films, retroactively, adding new facets to characters we thought we’d seen the last of, and giving them the momentous send-offs they might not have had the last time around,” reviewed the BBC.
This film was by far my favorite superhero film I’ve seen this year, and maybe the best Spider-Man so far. “Spider-Man fans proved they are some of the most enthusiastic moviegoers with their record-breaking support of the film’s debut around the world, making this live-action multiverse an international sensation that must be seen on the big screen,” said Justin McDaniel, Cinemark SVP of Global Content according to Deadline.
No, Not That Peter, The Other One
There have been so many Spider-men at this point that it feels a bit too simple to say one is the best. But that’s my own opinion, and many disagree by saying that Tom Holland’s rendition of the character is the closest in similarity to the comic book versions. Including Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, animated Shameik Moore, in the last 20 years there have been nine Hollywood films about the web-shooting teenager (not including appearances with other Avengers).
Tobey Maguire’s Pete is a nostalgic classic. For many, he was the first face of the superhero. Nerdy and awkward yet winning MJ’s heart, Maguire’s Spidey was endearingly dorky and true to character. In this film, he is the oldest of the three, being referred to as Peter 1. He has back problems from all the swinging, which Garfield helps crack, and his relationship with MJ is still complicated. However, since we last saw him almost 20 years ago, he has continued fighting and trying to be better.
Andrew Garfield’s Peter is sarcastic and funny, often joking around despite whatever the situation holds. There is still a moodiness and grief hanging over him though; the death of his girlfriend Gwen haunts him and he still believes it is entirely his fault. It gives the goofy little rascal emotional charge, and a redemption arc at that.
Holland plays Peter with innocence, wonder. He is still an awkward nerd who doesn’t always play it cool but he does have like 12 abs so tomato tomahto. Holland has immense range though and has proven such not only with the Spider-Man role but even going back to one of his first films ‘The Impossible’. While he is a superhero, Holland also reminds us that Spider-Man is really a kid. “The film’s real superpowers are its endearing performances, and a screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers that interweaves teen-angst soap opera and cosmic calamity with all the goofy logic and tonal nimbleness that make the best superhero comics so appealing,” according to the BBC.
“I Always Wanted To Have Brothers”
My favorite part of the film and of a spider-verse concept, in general, was the long-awaited, and frankly pretty awesome, interactions between the Peter Parkers. All three of them have their strengths and what they are known for in their rendition of the Spider-Man role, and where those differences and similarities overlapped is where the magic happened. All three had faced tragedy, adventure, and immense responsibility, although now in different stages of each of their lives. They are the same person, in a way, but also not. The BBC writes, “Between their comic chemistry and their tragic flaws, there is something engagingly human about these superhumans.”
The charm of Spider-Man, his likable nature, and charming optimism was a joy to watch as three versions of the same person join together. Such as when Garfield tells Holland and Maguire that he loves them and the two respond both with a hesitant “Thank you?”. Or when they discuss the differences in their universes; such as Holland being part of the Avengers and Garfield saying “That’s so great, is the Avengers a band? Are we in a band?”. Other moments include comparing battles they’ve had and geeking out over Maguire’s organically made webs. There is something pure about watching three characters who are sweet and funny engaging with each other, especially when those three characters are technically all the same.
The truth of the matter is that there is no true Spider-Man, there is just the character. Peter Parker has been played by numerous different actors, but the brilliance of the multiverse was having them come together in one, nostalgia-fueled epic adventure.
By Kylie Bolter
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