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When we last saw the friendly, neighborhood Spider-man on screen, he was helping Iron Man fight Captain America in Captain America: Civil War, because Tony Stark it would be a great idea to bring an inexperienced high schooler in to fight a bunch of Avengers. Before that though, he was being played by Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-man 2, where he was fighting Electro. While I really like Garfield as Spider-man, I can admit that that movie was not good.
It wasn’t Andrew Garfield’s fault that the movie wasn’t good, but in Sony’s desperation to make a successful, sustainable Spider-man series, they went to Disney and Marvel Studios for help. Not getting into the whole business side of it, but gone was Andrew Garfield and in was Tom Holland.
At its core, this movie is about people chasing after what they feel they deserve. With the Vulture, he feels like he got screwed over when Damage Control took his company off of clean-up after the Battle of New York, which was 8 years ago. (We’ll come back to that.) Peter Parker, after his run-in with the Avengers thinks he deserves another mission and an actual spot with the Avengers. Vulture deals with it by stealing alien technology and making weapons to sell. Peter is just pretty careless in chasing after the Vulture, and overall, Peter’s actions are the things I did not like in this movie.
For much of the movie, it came across that Peter’s motivation in this was to impress Tony Stark so he’d be invited to be a full-time member of The Avengers. That doesn’t seem like Spider-man to me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that neither Uncle Ben or “with great power comes great responsibility” were mentioned in the movie. But that is still the heart of Spider-man. He’s not fighting crime because he’s hoping for a call-up to the big leagues. He’s fighting crime because he has the ability to do so, and it’s the right thing to do. But perhaps I’m over-thinking it. He is still a kid wanting to do good. I just don’t think having Stark around helped get that message across. I did like Tom Holland’s performance as Spider-man and Peter Parker. It was easy to like the characters, even when they were making questionable decisions.
However, Michael Keaton’s performance as The Vulture stole the show. I don’t have the ranking in my head, but this is easily top 5 of any villain that has been in an MCU movie. They gave him a motivation that you could understand and maybe even rationalize, while at the same time not making him too sympathetic. As the viewer, you understand why he is doing what he is doing, but stealing alien tech to make and sell weapons is wrong. Too often in previous Spider-man movies, the villain is actually just a victim of circumstance. Not here. Yes, it sucks that his company took a hit from some government agency, but it doesn’t justify The Vulture’s actions. What makes Keaton’s performance so powerful is that it comes across that his character fully believes that what happened to him completely justifies what he is doing. In his mind, he’s not doing anything evil, he’s just taking what should rightfully be his.
The rest of the cast was fine for the token roles that they were playing. You had the goofy sidekick that wanted to be “the man in the chair.” You had the love interest. You had the jerk. You had the loner that’s not really a loner. All cliche characters, but they were performed well enough that I never had the thought while watching the movie that these were just characters thrown in to check off character tropes from a list. Each one adds at least a little something to the movie.
But seriously, how in the world does this movie take place 8 years after The Avengers? That means that Captain America: Civil War would also have to take place close to 8 years after The Avengers. There is no way that is possible with everything else that has happened in the MCU. It’s frustrating because that specific time is not needed. You show the aftermath of the Battle of New York from The Avengers. With the debris, it’s obvious what is being cleaned up. You then go to Peter’s appearance in Civil War. It is obvious these events happen then. There’s no need for a specific time to be mentioned that just throws the timeline out of whack, and has me reading through Reddit threads as no one else can make sense of everything either. Alright, rant over.
Even without liking the apparent motivation of Spider-man, I did enjoy this movie, and it may be my favorite of the Spider-man movies. (I don’t hold Spider-man 2 nearly as high as everyone else, but that’s another topic.) I encourage you to go see this movie.