Quick Synopsis: Peter Parker makes a deal with Doctor Strange so that everybody forgets him, but ruins the spell and finds his world invaded by different Spider-man foes from the multi-verse.
I had to wait a while before posting this because I have to talk about the spoilers for this review. It’s hard to talk about this without discussing the surprises. That’s both a good and bad thing. The emergence of the alternate universe Peter Parkers is a big deal, but let’s face it they were kind of expected. They did their best to hide that reveal, but it was still somehow really obvious, especially with the set leaks. So really the only surprise was Daredevil being in it, and the death of a major character. So after the major reveals, there’s not really much in this film that’s essential to watch, it hinges on those reveals so much that the rest is kind of lacking.
Don’t get me wrong, this is incredibly fun and you’re not likely to be disappointed. But I felt similar to how I felt after Endgame, that it’s closed off a lot of doors that the films had previously opened. The big one is that the end of Homecoming had the Vulture know Spider-mans identity, and keep it secret so that he had some leverage. That’s now wasted. On the upside, it has reset the character somewhat so he now has his own identity. The previous films have made him feel a bit too much like Iron Man Jr. Not just with the Stark technology being a major part of his suit, the villains for the first two didn’t even have an issue with Spider-man, they hated Tony Stark. Now he has no access to Stark-tech, he is dependent on just himself. Also since he’s no longer part of the Avengers, he won’t be called upon to take on large world-destroying threats, he’s back to being a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man.
The action scenes here are better than Marvel has done in the past, the true action centerpiece has at least three fights going on at once, none of which are at ground level, and it takes place at night. It would be very easy for that to be an incomprehensible mess, but Jon Watts is a talented enough director that it’s really easy to follow, the geography of the scene makes sense, and it’s always clear what is happening and who is involved (he’s also directing the next Fantastic Four movie, which is a good sign). There are some CGI moments that are a little ropey, but sadly that’s to be expected in an MCU movie. They’re not bad enough to ruin it, but they do occasionally remind you that you are watching a movie.
The performances are all fine, there are no performances here that stand out as the best of the year, but there’s nobody who does it badly. Tom Holland continues to completely nail the character here, and his interactions with Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire is a delight to watch. Personally, I wish they had gone further, there are moments where Garfield and Maguire allude to things that weren’t in the films, but do we really believe there are only 3 Peter Parker Spider-mans in all the multiverses? They could have had some turn up who haven’t been in a film, but would have made a good Peter Parker (Andrew McCarthy, Donald Glover etc). The fanfiction that would kick off would be incredible, and it would make it feel like things exist outside of what we’ve seen, that there are other universes that we haven’t seen. Also I would have loved to have seen 2 different versions of the same villains turning up (also this film doesn’t explain why the ones who come through are the only ones, whilst other important characters don’t).
Overall, I really enjoyed this. One of the best MCU films of the year (only one that can match it is Shang-Chi), and a perfect way to end 2021. I’ve seen it twice, and I really want to see it again, that’s a testament to how good it is. It’s not QUITE as good as Into The Spider-Verse, but few films are (side note, what is it about Spider-man that makes him the perfect conduit for multiverse theory in films aimed at kids?).