With the release of the Spider-man homecoming movie, Marvel adds a very important character to its Extended Universe movies. Jim and Ellis recently visited the cinema to experience the movie and here are their thoughts.
1: Give us an introduction of who you are and where your loyalties lie on the Marvel vs DC front.
Jim: I’m a lifelong Marvel fanboy; my first comics were the original Secret Wars run back in the 80’s. I have a huge collection of Marvel books, including everything ever printed in the Ultimate series that ran from 2000-2015 (the pinnacle of Marvel for me). But I also love and collect Batman and have a reasonable knowledge of the comic book DC Universe.
Ellis: In the Marvel dominated office I’m the token DC fanboy. I’ve suffered a long time in the movie discussion thanks to the DCEU being a bit… different. The past few weeks have been great though and I’m currently on a high from the awesome Wonder Woman
2: Now Sony have allowed Disney to bring Spider-man to the party, did it feel out of place?
Ellis: Nah, Marvel has been adding hero’s steadily since Iron Man so having someone new is nothing different. If anything, having them in one universe makes it simpler.
Jim: Far from feeling out of place, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has had a palpable Spider-Man-shaped hole in it since its inception and this film finally makes things right.
3: With us now being on the 3rd Spider-man in the last 10 years, how did Tom Holland do?
Ellis: Great. I like Maguire and Garfield but they suffered from a bad case of ‘older guy playing high schooler’ syndrome. Holland seemed like a 15 year old and was proper nerdy with it. I’d be interested to see if he can tackle something more complex than just being a nerd and cracking wise.
Jim: If you’ll excuse the bad pun, he was an amazing Spider-Man! I thought both the previous Spider-Men brought something to the role but left something to be desired; Tobey Maguire’s Peter was vulnerable and had an everyman/nerdy quality which worked pretty well, but he never really managed to pull off the quick-witted persona of Spider-Man. Garfield had the Spidey personality down, but was far too cool and sure of himself as Peter. And Ellis is right about them both being too old to play high schoolers. Tom Holland is utterly perfect as both Peter and Spidey, a casting easily on a par with RDJ or Chris Hemsworth. Maybe even superior to them. I really hope they’ve signed him up for a good few movies.
4: As comic book fans, how true to the comics was Tom's Spiderman to the source in comparison to the previous movies?
Jim: Actually, this incarnation of Spider-Man is probably further from the comic book lore than either of the previous two. As seen in Civil War, this Peter wears a suit made by Stark, and with this comes multiple abilities not seen in the comics. Geeks like me will remember the Iron Spider or Superior Spider-Man doing similar things; but this is far from a teenager wearing home-made tights. Spidey’s surrounding cast has also been changed up for the film. Peter’s best friend Ned will be recognised by Spider-nerds as essentially being Ganke Lee, best friend of Miles Morales. Aunt May is now a hottie. Peter’s love interest isn’t Mary Jane or Gwen. But it all worked because what they got spot on was the character of Spidey/Peter himself and the feel/tone of the comic books, and that’s what counts for me.
Ellis: As a DC fanboy I’ve only had a passing knowledge of Spider-man in the comics. But even I know that May isn’t hot. Also, I can’t remember him having a nerd sidekick or a robo-suit or anything like that. It basically seemed like they figured out people liked having hot women, comedy and Iron Man’s suit in movies so let's do that again. A fair few things seem rehashed from other Marvel Movies because they seemed popular.
5: One criticism of the Marvel movies is that the villains are not very good, how was Birdman, erm, I mean Vulture?
Ellis: Great, I always thought that Vulture was a bit of a joke from when I’ve seen him. Keaton played him really well though and I thought he made him seem like a legitimate deadly guy with an understandable motivation. Possibly the 2nd best Marvel cinematic universe baddie after Loki.
Jim: I also thought Keaton was really good, as he usually is. Not the best villain I’ve ever seen but he was a pretty interesting character with actual motivation and happily he wasn’t the billionaire-industrialist-with-a-company-that-bears-his-name-gone-mad that I was expecting. He looks the right amount of cool and creepy in the suit, and his get-up kind of makes sense, rather than just being a crazy costume. In terms of Marvel’s villains (which have admittedly been less than stellar) he sits pretty high up on the list, behind only Loki and Wilson Fisk for me.
6: How much world-building was crowbarred into the movie, did it detract from it?
Jim: Really there wasn’t all that much, and what there was certainly didn’t feel crowbarred in to me. We already knew that Peter has a relationship with Stark and this movie fleshes that out, along with plenty of interaction with Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, which I really enjoyed. I get a kick out of the interconnected nature of the MCU and liked the references to other movies etc. but those references felt organic and most importantly this is first and foremost a Spider-man film.
Ellis: I think the movie suffered a bit with some obvious attempted nods to the universe. Stark is in it a lot (maybe too much?) and the Avengers are mentioned every 5 minutes. Half of it is a great weaving in of items from the other movies, the other half is a bit heavy handed for my liking.
7: What were parts of the film that really worked for you?
Ellis: Loved the new Spider-man, love the vulture, loved the general story. Action was fun and the story was believable in the context of the universe.
Jim: The action sequences were suitably awesome, the fact they completely sidestepped the tired origin story was merciful, Tom Hollands superb performance shone. There was so much to love here for a Spidey fan like me. The title of the film is completely apt – Spider-Man has come home to the MCU.
8: What were the parts that you didn't like?
Jim: Honestly, as you can probably tell by now there’s not much negative I can say! The only thing I can think of is that they gave away way too much in that first trailer (I avoided them all after that), as a big set-piece two-thirds into the film was slightly spoiled by having seen what was going to happen at the end of it in the trailer. But that’s more a criticism of the trailer than it is the film.
Ellis: I really enjoyed the film but it’s not really a thinker. It’s the standard guy has powers, guy has crisis with using or losing powers, guy has to believe in himself to save the day. While fun there was nothing that I really couldn’t predict after just seeing the trailer. But Marvel isn’t about challenging expectations, it’s about delivering big dumb blockbusters.
9: Overall, what is your lasting impression of the movie?
Ellis: I’d recommend people to see it, I’d watch it again if it’s on the telly and I’d buy it if I found it 2nd hand.
Jim: I’ll be going to see it again with my wife and son, and I’m looking forward to that (I very rarely watch a film in the cinema twice). I think this Spider-Man can lead the MCU for years to come so I really hope Sony and Marvel can stay friends…
10: So the big question, where are we now in the Marvel vs DC movie franchises?
Jim: After the abysmal Batman vs Superman and the kinda-fun-but-still-a-terrible-movie Suicide Squad, I watched Wonder Woman thinking that DC were finally catching up, it was a great film and I enjoyed it a lot. But watching Spider-Man Homecoming reinforced that Marvel are still the undisputed kings of this genre for me; streets ahead in terms of bringing a comic book to life on screen. Don’t get me wrong, I want good DC films too. And good Fox films. And more! I’m not even close to tiring of the genre (can you tell?) and look forward to checking out Justice League, Deadpool 2, the Hellboy reboot and others. But Marvel wears the crown and has a pretty firm grip on it right now.
Ellis: DC had a bit of a faltering start. Or more to the point a faltering big ticket movie in BvS. While I personally enjoyed the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad, I understand why it wasn’t everyone’s cuppa. Wonder Woman is the start of DC getting back on track and it’s only going to get better from here. Marvel has a head-start and they will always be fun films to watch. But unless they can do something more interesting with their stories then I can see myself losing interest in them a little.
Jim: “Oscar winning” …pfffft…