This review will contain spoilers. I literally do not know how to review this movie without “spoilers” because it is so about the references. I mean, it pulls in Spiderman villains and such which we haven’t seen in the MCU to date.
My short review (without spoilers) is this: It’s a fun movie for Marvel fans, but I wouldn’t send a non-Marvel fan to watch it. This isn’t like Black Panther or Iron Man (1) or Shang Chi where I could say “just go see it anyway, it’s so much fun.” You need background. Now, as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – this was soooo much fun.
More in-depth I have seen a bunch of people saying how much they love this movie and it’s one of their favorites in the MCU. Nope. Not at all. I wouldn’t put it in the top 5, maybe even the top 10. Honestly (controversial take here) I don’t think it will hold up as one of the better films in the series AT ALL. It’s going to slide down the list as the shine of “new and fun” wears off.
There are some really massive plot holes. Why doesn’t Happy/Pepper Potts/Stark Industries step in before Peter even considers the magic angle when Peter gets rejected from MIT? Like, Happy or Pepper could probably make one phone call and at least get him reviewed a second time. Doctor Strange is so poorly done in this film. He is written like another teenager instead of an arrogant magician – a difficult distinction, but achieved in the first film.
Doctor Strange just starts casting and THEN warns Peter about the consequences that everyone will forgot him. Like, there is no planning or conversation…. seriously this film could have been ended with like a single conversation…. or any one conversation in like 3 strategic places.
Or it could have happened if Peter was saying “I hate that everyone knows who I am. I can’t even order a damn burger without a conversation about being Spider-Man.” Show the beginning that he’s being frankly harassed by both fans as well as JJJ. It isn’t about college per say but about that classic post-high-school “I want to be able to start over and present myself in a new place in a new way.”
Then comes all the references. If you (somehow) missed all the Toby McGuire movies – like half of the second half of the movie will be incredibly confusing. I didn’t see the Amazing Spiderman movie with Andrew Garfield, and apparently there were some bits and moments that passed me by as “oh good reference.” but I didn’t feel it. He mentions about screwing up and not saving Gwen and then he gets a moment when he saves MJ – and kind of sniffles with happiness and I went “aww, he got the save this time.” Afterwards I was told how similar it was to his miss in his movie. Ok, so maybe I didn’t get the full impact of “so cool” in the moment.
Like I said, I don’t think this movie will stand up over time as one of the great movies. It isn’t one I’m going to pull up on a sick day when I want to relax. There are (in my opinion) much better movies in the MCU. Maybe it will improve based on the future movies for Spider-Man, maybe like Iron Man 2, it will stand better BECAUSE it’s a transition between two phases of the character. I hope I’m wrong, but as of today? It’s a fun movie and if you’re a MCU fan AND a general Spider-Man fan, you will definitely enjoy it.