I approached this movie with some trepidation. “Oh goody, ” I thought, “yet another Spiderman. I’m bored of all the Spidermen.” It feels like Spiderman gets movie-rebooted about every 6 weeks at the moment. Which baffles me, because it doesn’t seem like he’s really that interesting a character. The endless Batman reboots are a little less annoying, because at least he’s a somewhat complex character, but Spiderman just seems really superficial and bland. I can’t recall the plot of a single Spiderman movie. All I really remember is lots of swinging through cities, and intermittent jokes about shooting a substance from his wrists that is somewhat reminiscent of cum. Those never get old.
Anyway, but here we are. The opening scene of the film confounds all expectations by being… dun dun dun… a flashback! This one doesn’t go too far back though, just to the aftermath of the first Avengers movie, and it shows Michael Keaton and friends cleaning up the site of Tony Stark’s skyscraper. There’s lots of alien tech there, and some people in suits make the mistake of annoying Michael Keaton, hereafter referred to as “Roose Bwayne” because I want to. In a fit of pique, he instructs his lackeys to keep all the alien tech instead of turning over to the authorities. EIGHT YEARS LATER they’ve managed to decipher its secrets and Roose Bwayne now has his own wingsuit, a little bit like Falcon’s but a little more “budget” in appearance. The usual environmental clues are in place to hint that he’s not going to be the good guy. While wearing this suit he goes by the villain name “Vulture” but I’m going to refer to him as “Batman” just to fuck with your heads.
There then follows a very cute little sequence which shows alternate clips of Captain America: Civil War, in which, as you may recall, Spiderman was press-ganged by Tony Stark to fight on his side. These clips are shown from the perspective of Peter Parker’s phone camera, in which he acts like a perfect 15 year old, and chats non-stop like a YouTuber. This sequence is expertly put together, and nicely sets the stage for the style of humour you can expect from the movie. The frequency and level of the humour are in a similar ballpark to Iron Man, though obviously with a slightly more teenage focus. A lot of the comic relief comes from his friend Ned, who is a colossal nerd but utterly adorable.
After the events of Civil War, Tony Stark tells Peter Parker to go back home, and await further instructions. Months pass, and nothing. Peter pesters for his next mission, but it never comes. In the meantime, he does a little local crimefighting, often doing more harm than good through his clumsiness. While intercepting an ATM robbery, he encounters Roose Bwayne’s team of thugs and their tech. He feels that this is very important but Tony still won’t take his calls. Spiderman then stumbles upon the alien tech again, when he encounters one of Roose Bwayne’s henchmen attempting to sell it to a guy who looks suspiciously like Donald Glover. Spidey chases the henchmen through the suburbs, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, until Batman (see above) pops out of the sky and ruins his day. One Deus ex Iron Man later, and Peter’s safely back home, being tucked into bed by Aunt May who most definitely isn’t an old lady this time round.
Peter did manage to pick up one of Roose Bwayne’s guns though, and decides to try and investigate its secrets. However, the bad guys are able to trace its location, and they come to collect it. “Two can play at that game, ” thinks Peter, and pops a tracker on them in turn.
All this time, he’s been using the Spiderman suit that Tony Stark gave him way back in Civil War. With the help of Ned, he discovers that the suit’s been in “training wheels” mode, and so they bypass this lockdown. What could go wrong, eh? The suit now has a sultry female voice, and gradually we are introduced to its advanced features.
There then follow a couple of impressive action set-pieces, one in the Washington Monument and another on the Staten Island Ferry, where Spiderman has to rescue his friends and a ferry load of passengers successively, and the laws of physics are generally brushed aside whenever they get too inconvenient. Once again, Iron Man has to come in and save the day, and Tony Stark decides Peter can’t be trusted with all this responsibility and takes the suit back. Peter goes home once more, and his local crimefighting projects are severely hampered. He seems to be settling into this lifestyle, when something quite unexpected occurs, and he’s thrust back into the fighting ways once again. I will say no more on the plot, for fear of spoiling the culmination.
My feelings about the representation of women in this film are hard to clarify in my own mind, let alone on the page. There are no female main characters. There are a decent number of female supporting characters, and while Peter’s girlfriend serves as just a love interest who needs to be rescued, the rest have a bit more depth to them. His friend Michelle, in particular, is superb and steals every scene that she’s in. So, on the whole, could be better, but could be a whole lot worse. I’ll leave it at that.
So, what’s the conclusion? Well, the plot is pretty much as expected – just an excuse to tie some action sequences together, and I fully anticipate that in a few weeks I’ll have forgotten pretty much everything that happened, just like any other Spiderman film. The action sequences didn’t make me go “wow” like some of the films had, but they were perfectly entertaining, and the humour was pitched about right too. So, it’s a decently entertaining and amusing film, but there’s nothing that really elevates it above the pack. While the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” is never stated explicitly, it’s pretty obvious that this idiom is intended to be one of the thematic foundations upon which the plot is built.