As I’ve noted, Spider-Man was my favorite character in the Marvel universe. So I decided to watch, in one week in August, four different iterations of the web-slinger, none of which I had seen before. Essentially each is it own Spider-Verse.
Spider-Man 3 (2007): This is the third of the Sam Raimi films. I loved the first two, which I saw back in 2002 and 2004. I’m fond of the players – Tobey Maguire as Peter/Spidey, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, and James Franco as Harry Osborn. Yet the film felt too overstuffed with villains. Sandman has a backstory that makes him rather sympathetic. Meanwhile, Eddie Brock is pretty unlikable from the beginning.
And Peter was pretty oblivious to the travails of his girlfriend. If she had left him for Harry, it would have been totally understandable. When this black goo appears on earth, why didn’t it trigger Peter’s Spidey sense?
It was about 1.4 good movies. In other words, too much. Yet I didn’t hate it as much as I had feared.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): This is the second of the Marc Webb films, with Andrew Garfield as Peter and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. But also overstuffed. I never cared that much about this Harry Osborn. The Elektro villain (Jamie Foxx) had a cringeworthy origin and was not terribly interesting. But this is what tipped me off that I didn’t care: the climax of the film I found oddly undramatic.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Now this was intriguing. Miles Morales is a nerdy teenager who becomes the Spider-Man of his universe. Is he ready? Heck, no. But he gets help from one Peter B. Parker. At this point, it’s a bit of a buddy pic, in a good sense.
Eventually, fellow web slingers also show up, and they’re wonderful in their own unique ways. The visuals are weird and wonderful, including an absurdly large Kingpin with a relatively tiny head. The movie works because of some fine voice actors, starting with Shameik Moore. I haven’t read the comic book in a quarter-century, yet I recognized this film as the love letter to Spider-Man it was intended to be.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). Where I grew tired of the first two Spidey franchises, I’m actually warming up to the Tom Holland character. Part of it is him being totally weirded out when it appears his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) might be expressing romantic interest with each other.
Meanwhile, Peter is going on a class trip to Europe with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), his major crush MJ (Zendaya), and the others. Peter ends up doing the superhero gig again, taking on some elementals. Fortunately, he is aided by an alien ally, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal)! Or so it would seem. Very satisfying up through the closing credits. Then the OMG coda.
Rotten Tomatoes considers Spider-Man, in its various iterations, a franchise. And a successful one, at that.
Average Tomatometer Score/Rank: 81.25% (11th)
Average Audience Score/Rank: 77% (15th)
Average Domestic Box Office/Rank: $411,579,893.13 (7th)
Could the new Spider-Man movie bring all the Spider-Men together?