Spidey Boyz: A No Way Home Detox

I wasn’t originally going to write this, letting the 2 ½ hour podcast speak for itself, until I realized writing about how much I hated the new Spider-Man is the perfect excuse of getting away from my relatives for a few hours. My relatives aren’t terrible but I’d still rather time with my increasingly fuzzy memories of the one film to put its fist through the pandemic and say “fuck your Unicron variant, people are going to see this shit”. Spider-Man: No Way Home, the 93rd Marvel Cinematic Universe film, the 33rd Spider-Man film, and the 5th Sony Universe of Spider-Man and Spider-Man-Accessories will riddle us all with disease if it fucking has to, because it’s a box office smash. It’s doing so well I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a graveyard smash as well; shuffling corpses wandering toward a multiplex like bugs to a light and buying Spider-Man tix so they can sit dead eyed in front of a screen is a little on the nose for zombie satire, but I’ll take it. Box office smash, graveyard smash, No Way Home additionally happens to be a monster mash of a movie, taking beloved villains as well as Rhys Ifans’ Lizard and pitting them against our aging twink of a hero. Will he beat the likes of the Green Goblin and Doc Ock? Is his grooming by another sarcastic goateed man assured? Will his boyish looks do well for Tom Holland in actual adult roles? I know the answer for that last one from the Uncharted trailer and they will not. He’s the Hollywood version of Andy Milonakis, folks!


“Public Enemy #1″ might be a bit much, but I’m glad people are finally turning on Tom Holland.

When we last left Spider-Man, Mysterio’s dying declaration both blamed him for the latter’s death and outed him as Peter Parker. This actually isn’t important in the grand scheme of things; only the first half hour is dedicated to his identity reveal and it’s more comedic than anything. People throw things at Spider-Man, shout “Mysterio was right!”, Flash Thompson puts out a book about his ‘friendship’ with Parker, people speculate on Peter and MJ’s relationship, those sorts of things. The scene of them looking like they’re fucking and being walked in on by May and Jon Favreau carries about as much weight as any threat of prosecution. Being accused of murder seems to be a big deal until a scene with returning Netflix champion and elbow nudge #1 of #211 Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) clears everything up. If you want a better explanation than “I’m a very good lawyer”, go fuck yourself. The real crux of the plot comes when Peter and his friends don’t get into MIT, or any other school for that matter. See! It’s relatable! Kids love college admissions. If it could happen on Boy Meets World it could happen to Spider-Man. Did you know Eric and Jack’s female roommate does porn now? Now you know!


Why would Iron Man Jr. have a diaper on over his costume? It does nothing!

In a connection of dots we as a people should not stand for, Peter notices the Halloween decorations at MJ’s job resemble Dr. Strange. Why not go to him for a roofie spell! Well, it’s unethical and you shouldn’t use magic to do stupid bullshit like that, but on the other hand there are asides to Wong not remembering parties so really magic is one big joke if you think about it. Who gives a fuck, let a kid mess with the world’s memories, they dug coal together. The problem comes in when Peter keeps adding stipulations to the spell, messing it up and causing the multiverse to develop incursions by the full weight of the Sony Pictures budgeting department. They didn’t get Dane DeHaan back because he had too much damn integrity. Or he was prepping for Valerian 2. One of those. That means the sky is empty for No Way Home is full of stars: Alfred Molina! Willem Dafoe! Rhys Ifans! Thomas Haden Church (THE CHURCH!) Jamie Foxx! They’re back, and they variously want to kill Spider-Man or say hello to Spider-Man in the Church’s case. Now, Strange posits they’re all there because they learned Spider-Man is Peter Parker. But Jamie Foxx never did that. A scene later on in the film directly contradicts that premise. Look, this has less a script and more a bloated cast list so you’re lucky there’s coherent English lines being delivered in between applause periods for returning stars. It’s an episode of Cheers where Norm enters 20 times in 20 minutes.


Folks, go see Willem Dafoe in Nightmare Alley, in theatres and available on streaming now.

As a big fan of the Raimi films and a big fan of Spider-Man villains, I’ve got to say this is a poor outing for all involved. Let’s start with Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Early on he chucks the mask in no small part due to Internet people chirping about how it makes him look like a Power Ranger for the last 19 fucking years. So what does he get instead? Well, uh, goggles, and Willem Dafoe’s face. He becomes the Green Hobo and he looks like ass. Doctor Octopus is neutered as a threat when Spider-Man uses his Stark technology to pair his arms to the system, so there’s gags of Peter moving Ock’s arms without his consent. The result is that Ock just acts disagreeable and bitchy the entire time. Electro has transformed into Jamie Foxx with electric powers. Amazing Spider-Man 2 sucked to be sure, and my theory is no one involved in the production rewatched the film. Their hazy memories consisted of “a blue Jamie Foxx”, who is soon replaced by Jamie Foxx in a firefighter outfit. He is Duane Dibley no more! Sandman’s motivations flip from scene to scene; sometimes he helps Spider-Man, sometimes he’s attacking him, and it’s all the result of lousy writing. I can’t make heads or tails of the character. As for the Lizard, he’s such an ineffectual afterthought he’s captured by Dr. Strange offscreen. If the point wasn’t to include one villain from each film there’s no way he’d make the cut otherwise. Speaking of which, why no sixth member? Michael Keaton can’t be that busy. Sinister Five? Fuck you. Give me a Sinister Six. If you’re tickling my balls have the decency to finish me off, so to speak.


“I definitely look 68 years old! Remember, Disney’s productions are a crime against man!”

Aunt May gets it in Peter’s head that he ought to cure these wayward men, spurred on by Norman Osborn’s appearance at F.E.A.S.T. (Fetal Ethanol Alcohol Syndrome Tourette’s) at which he’s a simpleton who doesn’t know where he is or who took his pants. His company doesn’t exist, his son no longer is in Seth Rogen’s good graces, everything is fucked. Thankfully, Happy Hogan’s apartment has a Stark Magic Machine that can cure any ill, be it malfunctioning robotic tentacles or being an electricity man. Doc Ock is easiest to fix because he’s set to “evil”, but before anyone else is cured of their mental disease Green Goblin pulls a double cross, proving the lesson of the film is Don’t Trust The Mentally Ill. This is important because over the course of the action sequence Gobby kills Aunt May, who still has enough life in her to impart some life lessons and speak about six paragraphs to her nephew. Credit to director Jon Watts for not including an EMT saying “those are the biggest dead woman’s bazongas I’ve ever seen! Aooga!”. She was a gag character in the first two movies—hey isn’t it incongruous, this isn’t your daddy’s Aunt May—and trying to give her import in her last appearance comes off as trite. The Spider-Man video game did a better job of sending her off. Her reiteration of “with great power there must also come great responsibility” is a toxic concoction consisting of elbow nudge and “say the line, Bart!”. I can’t stand it.


These three assholes are like xeroxes of xeroxes of, like, annoying Buffy characters.

So things must get pretty dour once May bites it, yeah? Haha, you naïve motherfucker. There’s not a moment to breathe in this 160 minute monstrosity, so right after May gets it we have to bring out the next shiny object with which to distract the audience. Enter: Spider-Man! Enter: Another Spider-Man! Ned and MJ use their magic gauntlet to summon them and hey, are you fucking hard from nostalgia yet? How about now? Now? It better be now. Garfield, to his credit, is putting in the work, in part because I think he’s overcompensating for his series having the reception of a lead balloon. Tobey Maguire you can see picturing his card games in between takes. (Let us remember he inspired Michael Cera in Molly’s Game and was a member of the Pussy Posse.) Either way, the characters don’t particularly illuminate the MCU Peter Parker by showing the road not taken because it’s all pretty much the same road. Garfield is cast as slightly darker than everyone else because his love interest died but that’s about it. There’s a weird moment in conversation when Garfield claims he sort of lost it after Gwen’s death and started murdering people maybe? It’s unclear what exactly he means but I like to interpret as he punched through Paul Giamatti’s stupid fake Russian face after Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends.


“Where’s my heat rock? This is against the Geneva Convention!”

Garfield does get the short end as kind of the runt of the litter; he doesn’t have the experience or the generational nostalgia of Maguire and didn’t go to space and get groomed by multiple bearded sarcastic men like MCU Peter. So when he admits he sucks the “no, you’re great” from the other comes off as half-hearted. No Way Home should’ve gone more in this direction, with Garfield as a sadsack failure Spider-Man whose girlfriend is dead and whose archenemy is Dane DeHaan, but unfortunately there’s not enough time for shit like “characterization” to occur so eventually they meld into one Spider-Man. Not literally; that would be amazing if it happened. There’s no Cronenberg here, folks, don’t go looking. Shorn of the Stark fabricator, the Spider-Men nonetheless use their science skills to cure the various villains, which makes you wonder why they didn’t do that in the original timelines. I guess “becoming sand by falling into a particle accelerator with a lot of sand” is a problem that can be banged out over the course of a long night in a high school science room.


J.K. Simmons is here! Don’t expect him to do anything funny or playing a character, he’s just doing Alex Jones. See? He’s hawking pills, just like Alex Jones! It’s funny. I wonder what school shootings he believes never happened.

Like other films of its ilk, the third act becomes a cacophony of not that great special effects bouncing off against each other. In this case there’s an electric sandstorm that envelops everything and after an unsuccessful first bout, the Spider-Men realize they need to be in sync in order to defeat the villains. Cure them, whatever. Marvel third acts are increasingly the least interesting parts of their respective movies and No Way Home is not an exception. It lasts for like an hour and I can’t tell you what happened beyond Sandman and Lizard turn back into stock footage of Thomas Haden Church and Rhys Ifans from previous films and Doctor Octopus returns from Offscreenville to help wrangle Electro. MJ falls and this time Andrew Garfield catches her, righting what once went wrong and redeeming himself in the eyes of himself. That’s an elbow nudge in itself, referencing two movies and a comic book and about forty other comic books that resuscitated the scene in order to grab pathos. I’m surprised they didn’t reveal Michelle’s middle name was Gwen for maximum elbow nudgery. Anyway, all that’s left to take care of is the Goblin, whom Spider-Man, the young groomed one, wants to kill in revenge for snuffing Aunt May. Finally, a movie where superheroes learn killing is wrong, haven’t had one of those before. Given the Avengers kill willy nilly, aliens and Hydra alike, maybe Spider-Boy does need that lesson. Tobey Maguire takes a stabbing to prove that point and I thought for a second they were going to off him for maximum pathos. But then I realized it would preclude semi-retired Tobey from phoning in subsequent movies, and they already had the cry cry moment with Aunt May. He survives the stabbing, though it’s funny to think he’s going to return to his home dimension with a big stab wound and who knows how far away from medical attention he’ll be. Title card of “Raimi Spider-Man died on the way back to his home planet” would’ve been funny.


Bring back Duane Dibley Electro

Although everyone’s cured of their hideous affliction, the multiverse is still falling apart and silhouettes of shit you recognize are at the periphery of the sky. Kraven! Rhino! Scorpion! And the rest! Simply sending everyone back won’t reverse the damage, so Spider-Boy has a sacrifice to make: run the spell again, only make everyone everywhere forget who Peter Parker is. I don’t really understand how this fixes everything, but it’s magic, it doesn’t have to “make sense”. Joe Quesada taught us that! It’s not a big loss because with May dead, Peter only has three relationships of any importance, and one of those is Happy Fucking Hogan. So yeah, this is an adaptation of One More Day, only instead of giving up his marriage Peter gives up his relationships with his friends. This is known as getting older, when you spurn connections with people in favor of back breaking labor and a shitty one room apartment. It takes three movies to get Peter to the beginning of Spider-Man 2.


More like Tom Hard(l)y…Appearing In This Movie!

For all his appearances, this Spider-Man has yet to create a universe of his own; it runs off borrowed items and cultural shorthand more than anything else. Uncle Ben, Great Power, Great Responsibility, high school, you know that shit already. MCU Spidey does the opposite of its predecessors so much in an effort to differentiate itself that it’s defined by those choices. Uncle Ben? Fuck Uncle Ben. Osborns? No Osborns. MJ? No MJ, instead we’ll create our own love interest named Michelle who has the initials of MJ so it’ll be a reference, you know, that only the real fans will get. Speaking of which, can we just say that Peter Parker killed Miles Morales and hollowed out his corpse for a cycle? Because special magnet school, fat best friend who knows his secret identity, that’s all the black guy’s schtick. Now to introduce Miles either he’ll have an eerily similar setup to Tom Holland Peter Parker or they’ll have to change things up and give him, I don’t fucking know, Kaine’s origin. This is all a detour to make the point that MCU Spider-Man is as deep as a wading pool for babies, a shallow rendering of what people already basically know about the character spackled with connections to the greater Marvel Universe. No one defines “human spackle” better than Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan.


“Peter! I’m an older man with a goatee! You’re predisposed to listen to me!”

Peter’s sacrifice would be heartbreaking if I had any investment in the characters, as this trilogy (everything is a trilogy now) has not succeeded in resonating. Take his relationship with Michelle or MJ or whomever. In the first movie she was the weirdo Daria chick. In the second Peter was inexplicably head over heels for her and she still treated him like shit. It was a triumph of the unicorn phenomenon that is female negging. Third movie they’re lovey dovey lifelong lovers despite being in a relationship for a week’s time. At one point Peter admits the only time he’s felt normal about his life was when MJ found out, which doesn’t make sense because that was when Europe was in danger of being destroyed by Mysterio. Whatever, continuity is a tool, not a straitjacket. Who gives a shit if things “make sense”. The point is, I don’t buy their relationship. In the Raimi films Peter and MJ’s relationship made sense in that Peter’s the only man in her life to treat her as a person and give her positive encouragement as opposed to seeing her as an object to attain. That’s something to hang shit on. The friendship between Peter and Ned at least I understand; they’re classic skinny guy/fat guy dynamic. It’s the MCU Spade and Farley. Ned Leeds was a “fat guy in a little coat” away from viral stardom. But now that May’s dead, who’s depth on that bench? Happy Hogan? Flash Thompson? Hannibal Burress? At least Maguire had Ursula the cake girl.



So now Peter’s adrift in a world he never made and forced to live as an illegal immigrant, taking GED classes like a fucking savage. He has a police scanner app on his phone because that’s something Maguire had, only it was a radio because 2000s. His costume is handcrafted, none of that fancy Stark bullshit or extra arms. I hate to get into the discussion of the shared universe and the rights Marvel owns and the rights Sony owns, but fuck it, let’s go. This seems to me to be a fork in a path and the franchise can go one of two ways. Clean break from the past wherein Peter goes to college and meets new people, maybe a Gwen or a Harry. He doesn’t necessarily need to see his old supporting cast or the Avengers ever again. Shunt him to his own corner and he’ll fight, like, the Chameleon. Or they could do more MCU shit. With the former Sony can definitively place Spider-Man in their shitty shared universe of Venom and Morbius and the like, and with the latter Sony can continue to suck at the overflowing teat of the MCU. Which the suits choose doesn’t interest me because I’m a human being goddamnit, my life has value outside of shared universe speculation. I guess for comedy value Sony taking its ball and going home would be funniest, because you’d have to have Tom Holland interact with Jared Leto and whatever else they’ve scraped together out of Spider-Man-related characters. Madame Web! Black Cat! Nightwatch! Throw ‘em all in there and make it a 90s shitshow. Superhero movie fatigue has set in so much so that my overriding interest now is in seeing these universes get run down and decrepit and nonsense. Fuck it!


I liked this scene only because it served as proof these actors actually were in the same space and this shit wasn’t all composed in post.

I think the problems with No Way Home boil down to the simple fact that the script is a pile of paper chewed on by a gerbil, likely by design. They must have gone through so many iterations, slotting in and out various actors and actresses subject to availability windows such that the contents ran secondary to the cast list. I imagine a version of the script exists without the other Spider-Men, one of the Spider-Men, a different roster of villains; hell, I even saw some concept art of Dr. Strange fighting Mysterio. Since these movies are less movies and more character appearance delivery systems now it makes sense that more focus was placed on who could appear than “what is going to happen in the movie” or “why anybody should care”. So much of the movie is characters who have not interacted with each other interacting with each other, and that’s it. It’s like a Judd Apatow movie if it cost $300 million and carried a slightly less socially conservative message. All that and the Spider-Men of other universes feel shortchanged by not getting devoted scenes with their counterparts. Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe have nary a moment together, whereas Garfield and Electro have a terrible “I thought you’d be black” moment. Elbow nudge: There’s a black Spider-Man that Sony and Marvel are too afraid to use in their live action films. The interactions are surface level glibness that is present throughout, with no real substance to anything. Moreover, multiple times No Way Home shows its belly by way of admission it’s in thrall to memes and not generating memes of its own. Norman repeats his line “I’m something of a scientist myself” because that’s a popular graphic on the Internet. The Spider-Men point at each other, because that’s a popular graphic on the Internet Into The Spider-Verse already did. (Everything this does that does multitudes better.) We should’ve seen the writing on the wall with “I’m The Juggernaut, Bitch!” in X-Men: The Last Stand, that the tail is wagging the dog now. Imagine if this came out when those newspaper cartoon edits were popular. They’d have to find a way to plug in a “Next week: ANAL!” reference.


“Man, her pussy tasted like sweet butter.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best part of the fucking movie, aka the post-credits scene. The first one. Mid-credits, whatever. The second post-credits is just a commercial/trailer for Dr. Strange 2. This one explains what Venom did during his sojourn to the MCU: he got drunk at a bar on the Mexican beach. There’s some jokes about the Avengers, like the Hulk being a dumb name. You’ve seen the Venom movies, you know the deal. The symbiote won’t shut the fuck up, Eddie is trying to keep things copacetic but gets drawn into bickering, and before you know it they’ve returned to the Universe of Sony Spider-Man Characters. (It’s something dumb like that.) BUT! A little eensy bit of the symbiote stays in the MCU so that’s your set up for the alien costume saga. [foghorn] But I enjoyed this because it’s such a fuck you to nerds who’ve been clamoring for years for a Spider-Man vs. Venom showdown. First they got a Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3 and now the big multiverse collision was Eddie getting soused and talking to a bartender about the MCU’s greater implications for the weekend. It also reminds me of how I wish I experienced this: getting drunk.


They’d never dare reference this…because it’d constitute meaningful gay representation and China won’t allow for that.

Maybe there’s outsized expectations at play but movies that cost this much should look a lot better than this. Alfred Molina is deaged so much he looks as smooth as a seal. It’s hard to care about anything that happens in the third act when it’s a lot of CGI junk flying everywhere and everywhen. Third acts have become my least favorite for this very reason, even in superhero movies I like (see: The Suicide Squad). I know for a fact that Thomas Haden Church and Rhys Ifans post-transformation are clips taken from previous movies and repurposed. You couldn’t fucking have the Church on set for one day? What’s worse, No Way Home actually did the bullshit of improving the CGI after release and putting an updated version in theatres. Does that mean we’re going to get a No Way Home: Gold Edition or Game of the Year Edition on Blu-Ray when all is said and done? I don’t like the idea of midstream fixing or improving the movie because it suggests to me they’re perfectly fine putting out incomplete product with the hope of fixing it later. Fuck that shit. I’m not seeing this twice.


“You’re not Gwen, but close enough.”

It’s at this juncture I should admit and acknowledge I am in the extreme minority with this one and know this from the reaction from the disgusting public at the screening I attended. People cheered for Andrew Garfield. They cheered for Tobey Maguire. They cheered for the MJ save for fuck’s sake. I felt like Frank Grimes at the end of “Homer’s Enemy”; “IT’S A MOVIE FOR CHILDREN!” I’m not the out of touch one, it’s the children that are wrong. See, it’s all cheap nostalgia; it gets you high well enough, but it’s not a legitimate high. Furthermore, it provides diminishing returns. With The Flash movie and more we’re about to see a lot of fucking multiverse shenanigans, and eventually we’ll run out of Michael Keatons and Hugh Jackmans to ooh over and we’ll be down to, like, the glorious return of Shawn Ashmore as Iceman or Chris O’Donnell in the ultra gritty Old Man Robin movie. We’ve seen the lengths companies will go to joyless IP farming with the likes of Space Jam: A New Legacy; don’t think it won’t happen with the MCU. Fuck, I’m sick of it already. See, “what if this met that, and that, and that” is a substitute for shit like a good story and characterization and action sequences. I cannot name one action sequence here I’d rewatch, whereas Spider-Man 2 alone has the bank robbery, the train, the climax, Doc Ock’s surgery… at best the feeling I got from No Way Home was I sure wish Sam Raimi hadn’t taken the decade off.


This is what’s known in the biz as the “cum shot”.

Well, at least I got to vent my spleen a little bit. I recommend Spider-Man: No Way Home to no one and instead suggest you just watch the Raimi movies. Any Raimi movies. Even For The Love of the Game, and I hate For The Love of the Game.

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