Film & Water #186 – Spider-Man: No Way Home



Rob welcomes fellow network all-stars Chris Franklin and Ryan Daly, plus special guest Corey Moosa to discuss SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME!

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11 responses to “Film & Water #186 – Spider-Man: No Way Home

  1. Great episode, guys! Been hoping there’d be an episode about this.

    This movie was what solidified Tom Holland as a Spider-MAN instead of Iron Boy. I really enjoyed the previous two Spidey movies (I enjoy all of them a lot, honestly) but they were just extremely entertaining, while this was finally emotionally resonant. It has that annoying thing with long-term prequels where you just want the character to be at the state you want them, but knowing that there was a direction to this arc retroactively softens the blow.

    Maguire was the one I grew up with, but Garfield was the Peter Parker/Spider-Man who I connected with as a teenager. I can see complaints about his Peter being too cool, and the sorta-Chosen One narrative was a little wonky, but he just had the spirit of the Peter I wanted to see. His awkward but sincere emotion and how casually he used his powers felt right to me. Just seeing those big eyes through that portal got me welling up. And getting some sense of closure for them was beautiful. Otto and Maguire’s Peter reuniting as sorta-contemporaries, Garfield’s Peter getting to save someone’s loved one. Ugh.

    The villains were phenomenal too. Dafoe finally got to go full Dafoe and it was terrifying. Molina’s Octavius was as perfect as ever. Glad to see Jamie Foxx get some more material, even if it’s slightly shallow. Honestly, the writing for the villains wasn’t as deep as it could’ve been, I feel like I lost track of their motivations somewhere along the line, but they still did a great job.

  2. Okay, I’m only 33 minutes into this podcast, I have at least two other comments I’ve been meaning to write, and tonight I need to take down Christmas decorations and complete four other manual and mental chores. Nevertheless, I’m going to stop everything and write this comment now. I think that means this podcast and the movie you’re talking about have done a good job making me feel something. [Editor’s note: I had to stop in the middle and go do some of those chores before it got dark.]

    First, in this month’s edition of Why I Disagree With Ryan™: Honestly, Ryan, you make a lot of great points about the inherent challenges of making this movie, so I’m only going to nitpick a couple of them. First, the problems with the One More Day storyline were manifold, as you point out, but they were not all of the same degree. The deal with Mephisto was a hugely convenient, status quo-resetting deus ex machina (or was it diaboli ex machina?), but we’re comic book readers. We’re inured to that, like a gregarious Floridian against new COVID variants. Second, Pete’s decision was both foolish and morally wrong on an objective level, putting the reader in the position of rooting against the protagonist and hoping he fails. That can be a fatal storytelling mistake, but it doesn’t have to be. The third and most damning problem (pun fully intended) is in line with your early concerns about the Dr. Strange portrayal: It was incredibly out of character. It was irresponsibly reckless, exactly what Aunt May would NOT have wanted, and most of all, it was very, very selfish. Pete was willing to hurt MJ and risk hurting many others due to predictable, but unintended consequences. This was partly because he wanted his Aunt May back, but mostly so he wouldn’t have to bear the guilt of indirectly causing her death. It took away all the agency of May’s decisions to support Pete coming out as Spider-Man and made the whole thing about him and his feelings. The truth is (and I may be projecting my own selfishness here), the more I write about it, the more plausible the decision sounds, but I think we all hoped Pete had grown past those moments. We wanted him to have done so, anyway. All the moviemakers had to do was avoid the second and third mistakes – the obvious immorality and selfishness – and they were golden. After all, compared to dealing with Mephisto, magic with Dr. Strange is a free lunch. It rarely has a cost, and when it does, Dr. Strange and Wong pay it for you.

    My second area of disagreement is more general to the panel. Yes, as Rob points out and Corey can attest, making movies is hard. But making good stories with these characters shouldn’t be. They’re drawing from decades of published work – much of it dreck, but much of it pretty good. And as Ryan points out, the MCU crew has even found ways to repair some of the dreck. Civil War had some awful mischaracterization and forced plots in the comics, but Markus, McFeely, and the Russos made it work. So, I’m not as amazed when the MCU makes a movie with this metric ton of fan service and it sings. I’m dumbfounded when Warner makes a movie with characters we love and even love to see interact wth one another, and it fails. Heck, they have the Timmverse as a model. Make a live action version of that, and you win, right?

    I have one daughter with a crush on Garfield and another with a crush on Holland. Maguire gets no love; cool youth pastors may be too familiar to them. The youngest (AKA Hollandfan) is the least indoctrinated in our nerdy ways, so we are now watching the Garfield and Maguire Spider-Man movies so she can understand what she saw in No Way Home. So, with my fresh rewatch, I can confidently agree that the Maguire and Garfield Spider-Man movies were more maudlin. However, as I told Hollandfan when she asked which movies were comics-accurate, they all are. Spider-Man comics have been pretty maudlin sometimes. I like it better when they’re more upbeat – when Peter has good days mixed in with the bad, and when he’s not clinically depressed. Therefore, the Holland movies are my favorite, also, but all the actors play believable and recognizable versions of Peter Parker.

    On Doctor Strange, I agree that it’s totally plausible that the surgeon is willing to make the hard decisions for the greater good. I thought his arrogance, his hardness, his blame-passing, and even his genuine affection and respect for Peter were all in character for MCU Stephen Strange. In fact, the Cumberbatch version is probably more well-defined as a character than the comics version. The comics version has been the subject of so many different creators’ visions, like they all have, but Strange hasn’t had the benefit of as many core personality traits as Parker, Rogers, or even Barton.

    Given all that, I appreciate that Peter tried to have his cake and eat it, too – to save the multiverse and still save the bad guys. It reminded of when the Green Goblin presented Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man with the choice of saving MJ or a group of schoolkids, and he found a way to save them both, with help from the Harbor Police and the New York citizenry. In the real world, we have to make choices like Doctor Strange does, and I respect him for going with the odds. But in my escapist fiction, I want the hero to save everyone.

    The last thing I’ll say before I cut this off and probably continue with the podcast tomorrow is that I walked out of the theater thinking that this may have been the perfect comic book superhero movie. Not necessarily the best, although I loved it and think it’s right up there. I mean perfect in the sense that David Allan Coe’s version of Goodman and Prine’s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is the perfect country and western song, because it’s about a pickup truck, mama, prison, getting drunk, and a train. Death of a parent figure, magic, fantasy technology, plucky non-powered sidekicks, other-dimensional doppelgangers, scenery-chewing villains, a superhero fight, a superhero team-up, the potential destruction of the multiverse – it can truly be said, this one has it all, as Stan would say. And it was only possible because, as in the comics, they had years of backstory and universe-building to draw on.

    Now, we’ll see if I’ve exhausted my web fluid cartridges or if I have more to say tomorrow.

  3. I found myself wanting the movie to end with a montages of each of the visitors returning home and living, recreating each original movie with that change. Clearly impossible, but they had done enough other impossible things already…

    1. I don’t know where they would’ve found the room, but it really would’ve been good to have epilogues. Apparently Maguire wanted to keep details of his Peter’s post-SM3 story as vague as possible, but Garfield was very eager to expand on his Peter’s life. Dunno how much they actually added, because it feels like he stepped right out of ASM2 while Maguire’s Peter feels like he did have a bit of a life after where he left off. Although I think you can attribute that to the fact that Maguire has visibly aged, whereas Garfield still looks and acts like the same (spider-)man.

  4. Great conversation, gentlemen.

    Must admit that I went into this movie with a certain amount of trepidation, scepticism, even apathy. As much as I’ve enjoyed the previous two entries, and Tom Holland in general, I’ve never really been much of a Spider-Man guy, and tbh the whole Spider-corner of the MCU is perhaps the least interesting part of it to me. Add to that the rumours that the older Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) would be in this too, and I found the whole idea offputting. It just felt like desperate, cash-in nostalgia porn – I’ve no interest in reviving dead franchises and incorporating them into living ones, be it Raimi’s Spider-Man or Burton’s Batman. It seems like a recipe for convolution, messy storytelling and cheap marketing gimmicks. I feel like I’m being pandered to as a middle-aged geek, and it rubs me up the wrong way. Still, I didn’t *know* that Maguire and Garfield would be in this, as I’d managed to avoid all of the leaks, and I actually went in really hoping they wouldn’t be. Because that’s definitely not what I wanted, and it would be a serious misstep.

    Boy, are there spider eggs all over my face. This movie is absolutely phenomenal. Unequivocally top-tier MCU. I can’t quite believe they took an idea that seemed so awful to me and spun absolute gold from it, that had way more richness, depth and proper emotional weight than it had any right to. Much to my surprise, I was genuinely moved when Maguire and Garfield showed up, and they were an absolute delight. And Willem Dafoe… Oh my god, what a revelation. The Goblin was a bit of a lame joke in the Raimi original, but he is a *demon* in this. The scene where Peter’s spider-sense marks the transition from goofy condo hangout to a goddamn horror movie drenched in fire and blood and maniacal laughter was incredibly effective.

    So yes, consider me chastened and humbled. There’s something truly wonderful about going into a movie with super-low expectations and being blown away and delighted when it gives you precisely the thing you were hoping it wouldn’t. I mean, I should have known. I should have trusted the MCU. We’re now 27 movies and several TV series into this, and they haven’t produced a stinker yet. In fact, they seem to be getting better. It’s a truly remarkable achievement.

  5. Thanks boys – a greatly enjoyable episode. I’m one that hasn’t seen ‘No Way Home’ yet; thanks to the current ravages of Omicron over here, it seems most likely that I will end up in seeing this at home… eventually.
    Completely agree with Cory’s assessment that this film simply does not exist without the success of “Into The Spiderverse”.
    I quite like the idea that magic is wild and unpredictable, and that spells can go wrong… even for the Sorcerer Supreme! And it’s entirely within my understanding of Stephen Strange’s considerable ego that he might try to blame that failure on somebody else.
    If Sony ever want to do a ‘Real World: Sinister Six’ TV series… I would be up for that!
    I’m a big fan of Tom Holland, who seems a perfect fit as Peter Parker. I will, however, causally drop into conversation, that Andrew Garfield went to the same school as me. (About 20 years after I left… calm down!)

  6. I’ve not ventured into a movie theater since Covid-19. However, I can say I enjoyed reading this movie’s plot synopsis on Wikipedia.

  7. Oh, this band of brothers! I must say, this episode would have benefitted tremendously from the inclusion of a Nathaniel Wayne or a Shag Matthews, as they could have compared this movie to Doctor Who’s multiple Doctor episodes/specials. In fact, I’d say NWH mirrors the Day of the Doctor special. Three equally strong Doctors, but allowing the then current Doctor (11th) to shine and never stealing his thunder. It also involved a special device that could reset everything…

    But as to the movie at hand, I’m with Ryan. Kind of an okay first act, but things take off in the third. Much like Endgame, this one’s a fastforward to the good parts for me.

    The high of the movie is definitely Andrew Garfield catching MJ. Garfield is my favorite Spider-Man, so it was nice to see him done right and square.

    Keep up the good work and am looking forward to hearing more panel discussions.

  8. It actually took us (my wife, daughter, and I) a while to finally see No Way Home. The first few times we tried to theater was well over half full, even though the movie had been out for two weeks. Finally, we were able to see a showing that was only a third full. More than we would have liked, but we figured that Spider-Man was worth the risk. We were all glad that we did.

    Other than watching the trailers, I managed to avoid all the rumors and leaks. So, I was grinning from ear to ear (under my mask), when Garfield pulled off his mask. I always felt bad that he never got to finish his run, and was more than pleased with how he and Maguire were treated in No Way Home. I’ve enjoyed all the Holland Spider-Man appearances so far, but I’m really looking forward to where they go from here.

    Thanks for the incredible review episode.

  9. So you kept saying how you weren’t worried about spoilers because everyone had seen it. Not so Much. I just saw it today (January 16) because theaters have been closed in Denmark since December 18th to keep the spread of COVID-19 down to make sure that the hospitals were not over burdened especially over the holidays. So because of that January 16th is the release date for the movie in Denmark.

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