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Spider-Men

I have bought my ticket to see Spider-Man: No Way Home on the day it comes out, as it’s the only way to avoid spoilers. Or at least minimise the possibility of encountering spoilers. It won’t be until the evening on the day of release, so I’ll also have to avoid social media for the day. This is not a bad thing.

I was seriously considering going to the midnight screening, but it doesn’t seem to be available in Stroud. And it’s probably just as well. It’s going to be a busy month in the day job and working the day after a midnight screening is rarely productive. I’ve done this three times before, in 2015 and 2017 for the Star Wars sequels, and then in 2019 for Avengers: Endgame.

Most energy the next day at work is spent either trying to stay awake or finding the will to not blurt out spoilers to more sensible people who are going to see the film at a time when they wouldn’t ordinarily be asleep. But it’s not like I have to worry about the latter so much at the moment, as the main company in my current physical office is my dog. And I’m fairly sure she’s not interested in watching any films.

I would say that Spider-Man fan is probably my favourite superhero. When I was four or five, I had a Spider-Man costume I’d wear pretty much permanently. I distinctly remember having Doc Ock and Spidey action figures and had a game for my Game Gear where I could never get past the Electro level. I just kept getting hit by bolts of electricity that I had no chance of dodging.

Then in the mid-90s, I had gotten hugely into the X-Men after the cartoon, shown every Saturday morning on Live and Kicking. But when that series ended, they started showing Spider-Man – and at first, I was sure I wouldn’t be suckered in by another Marvel cartoon. How very wrong I was. I quickly became hooked and got to know the rogues’ gallery of villains.

Next up came the 2002 film directed by Sam Raimi, which I thought was great. A few things were a bit off, but they got most of it right. Most importantly of all, they got the essence of the character spot on. And Tobey Maguire will always be my favourite of the Spider-Men. And on a personal level, it particularly struck a chord for me as I was the same age as the character was when it came out. Not Tobey Maguire though, he was nine years older than me. A record he maintains to this day.

Then Spider-Man 2 happened and it remains one of my favourite films to this day. The score, the expert comic timing, J K Simmons, Alfred Molina. I could write an entire post on here about how great it is, but I may save that for another day when I don’t have much else to write about. It was the perfect sequel, arguably even better than Toy Story 2. I say ‘arguably’, as I’m not even sure of this myself.

The Spider-Man tie-in game was also one of my favourite games and I started playing it when I was meant to be writing an essay during the uni holidays for a unit I’d failed in the first year. I failed the retake, possibly due to this game. But it was worth it. It was an open-world game, where I swung around New York so much that I couldn’t probably find my way around there just from playing the game so frequently, especially if it involves swinging from buildings. Admittedly, this is unlikely.

Next up was Spider-Man 3, which I was very excited to see in New Zealand in 2007. At the time, I loved it. But then at the time, I also loved Batman and Robin. Spider-Man 3 is massively flawed and bloated but has taken on a life of its own in memes that may very well have redeemed it.

Then came the first reboot. And I can’t remember what I was doing in 2012, but I didn’t get around to watching it. I then avoided it on DVD and never actually saw it. That was until last night when I thought I should watch it ahead of No Way Home as a certain lead actor is strongly rumoured to appear in it. I didn’t really enjoy it if I’m honest. There’s none of the goofy charm of the Raimi films. It felt like a manufactured cover version of a song that I love. It tries to hit the same origin beats, but in a slightly altered way to try and consciously make it different to what came before. But in reality, it just doesn’t work as well. I hear the sequel is worse, so I look forward to watching that. I am expecting I’ll probably prefer it, as that’s how I often react to popular opinion.

And that brings us to our latest Spider-Man films in the MCU. I actually really like them. A few things feel a little off. He has too much expensive tech when part of Spider-Man’s charm is that he’s struggling to make ends meet and making things up on the spot on a shoestring budget to save the day. But crucially, the MCU films get the essence of Peter Parker right in a similar way to the Raimi films. While Tom Holland doesn’t surpass Tobey Maguire for me, he is very good. And I really like his best friend Ned, who practically steals every scene he’s in. And Far From Home was one of the best Spider-Man films. Oh, and Into the Spiderverse was great, although I would have scrapped the pig and robot characters from the final film.

Now it’s onto No Way Home. I do have concerns that they’re trying to cram too much in. But Kevin Feige knows how to make these massive ensemble things work. And if it sees Tobey Maguire suit up again, then it will all be worth it. Hopefully, I’ll find this out when I’m watching it in the cinema and not on social media beforehand.

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