So: a trailer for SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME will drop soon. And we know SONY has its own plans for a post Disney /Marvel deal: either renewing / reinventing or going their own way with a new library of self contained characters.
And yes, I have read those spoilers for the latest Spidey film. And no, it does not sound good. Which is why I refuse to accept it! Instead, I will settle for ranking the existing wall crawling web slinger’s efforts on film. Feel free to disagree..nicely.
These are my favourites. Ranked from best to worst, imho..And I am no expert, I know..never really enjoyed the Spider-Man universe as he is too beset by loser problems when to me, the whole object of such fantasy to live a vicarious lifestyle of power (Iron Man, Batman et al).
But I get the appeal and I saw the movies. So here goes..
1: SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME : I love its charm, variety and experimentation with genre. This ‘gets’ what it is like to be a teenager in love in so many ways, to the extent that you’d still have a movie even if you lost the super-hero stuff. Nice travel montages. A sexy seamstress. Credible baddie. Continuity with yet extension of existing Marvel properties. Cracking soundtrack and score. And Tony Stark is there without actually being ‘there’. I love it.
2: SPIDER-MAN 2: Alfred Molina is as adept at playing father figure as he is in full on villain mode here. Kirsten Dunst is so adorable she makes me cry, every time. Parker is s still a massive wally loser here but he at least starts to define his life on own terms whilst understanding why he is who he is and what his power entails. Some great action. Lean, simple, almost child-like motifs and plot but therein lies the movie’s appeal because it can breathe, which is rare in this genre.
3: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: The reboot nobody expected, asked for or even wanted/needed. Hence it is simply a premature remake in some senses. The attempt to not give the ‘with great power..’ speech..yet still give it.. is painful. And yet: is there any difference between that and say, re-staging a play with new actors /sets? How many Hamlets get put in a Theatre each year (do not try counting, trust me). This IS an original take on old material. The world depicted feels a bit more ‘real’ whilst retaining comic boom aesthetics. James Horner’s themes rouse the spirits. And Emma Stone is the personification of every childhood sweetheart you never had the courage to kiss. Director Marc Webb just ‘gets’ romance on screen (see also: 500 Days of Summer). Vic Armstrong was on action choreography duties so you feel more immersed in the movie from start to end, whether in 2 or 3-D.
4: SPIDER-MAN: Bold. Fast. Energetic. Innovative. Visually stunning. Always worth a watch. THAT Danny Elfman score..
5: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING: I like this. I just don’t ‘love’ it. The problem is if you have Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Junior in the same movie and never let them share the screen then you have conned your audience. Vulture is also kinda sympathetic as a villain and even gives snotty Parker a chance to leave him alone. And the pace lulls in places, with a dip mid movie, especially, thereby undermining the pace of the whole. So you cannot invest completely in the stakes. But Ned (Jacob Batalon) is great and I could watch an entire movie with that dude in the lead.
6: SPIDER-MAN 3 / AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2: Joint last. Utter crap, both. Avoid at all costs. Radioactive spider bites are more fun than enduring these bloated, tonally illiterate, soul destroying rush jobs. And I do not blame the directors or actors or other ‘creatives’. But studio mandates in haste plus bespoke scripts to match never a good movie make. You have been warned.
For record: yes, I love Spidey’s role in the Avengers movies. He works well as a guest star so I do hope he turns up in VENOM (a film I enjoy, repeatedly and shamelessly so). The Spider-Man TV movies have camp nostalgia value and the cartoons which sometimes stream on Disney Plus feature some solid story-telling for all ages.
And yes. I know. You will disagree. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Love from your friendly neighbourhood James Murphy 😉 x
POST SCRIPT STOP PRESS: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE IS AN EXCELLENT ANIMATED COMEDY MUSICAL..But it to my mind simply uses the IP to that end rather than being an actual ‘Spider-Man movie’..happy to praise it separately 😉