Remember when, for five whole seconds, Peter Parker was a kid with kid problems, who had to fit his superheroing around school and family obligations? Remember how fun and refreshing that was? That the stakes of a Marvel movie weren’t the fate of the whole world, but just this corner of Queens, and even the villain was a local guy who just wanted to, like, be an under-the-radar criminal to maintain his family’s middle-class life? We are so far past that point that it feels quaint bordering on chintzy. The official trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home is here, and it’s three minutes of world-ending, many-villained nightmare chaos that looks like a total bummer.
The only parts of the trailer that feel like Peter and his cohort are still kids in high school is when they laugh at Doctor Otto Octavius’s name, and, to a lesser extent that works largely because of Zendaya’s blasé cool, when MJ tells off Doctor Strange for being rude. Those little bits feel like kids living in this bigger world, but the rest of this trailer exhausts me. No, I don’t need a grimdark Spider-Man movie, especially not one centered on Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, who has generally been a buoyant and delightful iteration of the character. No, I don’t need a Spider-Man movie that sets up a Sinister Six movie, I don’t care how badly Sony wants to make a Sinister Six movie, literally no one is asking for it. I resent how much of No Way Home looks like setting up sh-t for future Sony Spiderverse movies, when they have untangled from Marvel’s storytelling grip and can freely mash their characters together without worrying about Kevin Feige’s opinion.
And oh boy, do I hope they know better than to go the “Death of Gwen Stacy” route with Zendaya’s MJ. The shots of her falling off a scaffold as Peter plunges after her are eerily—probably deliberately—similar to the same sequence from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Iâ€™m never forgiving them for this pic.twitter.com/JqbiU8Csyy— joe ðŸ¦‡ (@mcumagik) November 17, 2021
Please, powers that be, know better than this. Gwen Stacy’s death only worked in one context, which has not been seeded for the MCU version of Spider-Man. Killing off Zendaya’s MJ would feel more like clearing the way for the “real” MJ—the red-headed, white one—to show up down the line. The way they’ve handled Zendaya as MJ has always felt like the studio hedging their bets against simply committing to a woman of color playing Mary Jane Watson, it would be awful for that to be borne out via a death scene. Don’t fridge MJ, Zendaya and the audience deserve better.
I have enjoyed Tom Holland’s reign as Spider-Man and liked the previous two movies very much. I am dispirited by how little No Way Home appeals to me. Hopefully, the trailers are just doing a bad job representing the movie, but it looks like a classic, third movie, “too many villains” mistake. This is the danger of the multiverse, that just because you CAN put all the toys in the same sandbox, you SHOULD put all the toys in the same sandbox. We can do a breakdown of how different Jamie Foxx looks as Electro now, or we can just admit mashing the toys together isn’t compelling in and of itself.
The one thing that sticks out as promising is the idea that all these villains from different universes are fated to die fighting Spider-Man, and that, maybe, Peter is trying to find a way to “save” them. I hope that’s the case, that is interesting dramatic ground, especially as it throws him into conflict with Doctor Strange, a “fix it at all costs” kind of guy. I’m going to cling to that dramatic potential because everything else about No Way Home makes me tired to look at.
Attached – Tom Holland after making a surprise appearance at the trailer launch yesterday. GQ just this morning released his cover of their Men of the Year issue. We’ll get to that tomorrow.