Nov made me rewatch this after his glowing review. And I realized I was wrong.
The experience of seeing Tobey Maguire bring Spider-Man to life in 2002 will always be with me. I can still remember that day vividly, including what seats we were in at the LaVale, MD movie theater.
But I never really gave Andrew Garfield a chance because he wasn’t Tobey. And because I knew we didn’t get Spider-Man 4.
But No Way Home left me with the feeling that Garfield won out of the three Spideys. So I owed it to myself to see it again.
I knew Garfield was the best Spidey from a wisecrack perspective but I always thought he was too cool for Peter Parker. That wasn’t the case with this watch. His Peter is a little too cool at moments but not until after he gets his powers. Peter was definitely cocky after the spider bite in the comics, even after Uncle Ben dies. Pretty is filled with every emotion possible after Ben dies and Garfield manages to convey it all.
I also couldn’t believe how good Martin Sheen was in his short time as Ben. I loved Cliff Robertson’s performance from the Raimi films but the anger in Ben’s voice when Peter broke his promise… that’s real parenting anguish and we’ve all seen it a time or two.
And kudos to Sally Field for her performance as May gets to show the side of May Parker who has lost her husband and apparently her nephew at times in a short time span. I prefer Marissa Tomei’s May only because it’s closer to what we got in Ultimate and her chemistry with Tom Holland shines in No Way Home but Field makes May Parker a person, not just a comic book character brought to life.
Emma Stone is pitch perfect as Gwen. I’ve always put Gwen on a pedestal in my head due to ASM #122 (still want Peter married to MJ though 🙄) and to see her come to life not only erased what Bryce Dallas Howard did in SM3 but it also preceded Gwen Stacy actually being a cool character? Gwen wasn’t cool in the comics until Spider-Gwen; all she did was cry over Peter, break up with him, want to be with him, run away from him, and then she spent an afternoon with the Goblin and Spidey’s webline. Stone’s Gwen is brilliant, funny, still worried about Peter (but he tells her immediately. Such a good move), and not entirely helpless. I love Peter and Gwen in these movies. And yes, she deserved better. Always.
Dennis Leary never moved me until this watch because I just saw Dennis Leary being a cop and a dad. But suddenly, Captain George Stacy was an amazing character. The way he listened to Peter when he came to him about Conners being the Lizard. The way he defended his job against Peter at his dinner table. The way he let Peter go and tried to stop him being shot in the leg after the revelation of his true identity. Even when he made Peter promise to stay away from Gwen as he died. It was a different George Stacy than the comics but it was still a tried and true Captain Stacy. And I was very impressed by him.
And Rhys Ifans a Dr. Curt Conners/the Lizard shined. The Lizard is not the coolest rogue in Spidey’s gallery but almost every time he showed up in Spidey’s early history, he made for great stories. Ifans’ performance is no different here as he also runs across a spectrum of emotions from frustrated to triumphant to scared to consumed with power to his final scenes as he helps save Peter’s life as the antidote takes away his Lizard persona. There’s a reason he made it into No Way Home (besides being TASM’s only good villain) and this movie proves it.
The pieces with Peter’s parents are hit and miss. The cool parts of how much he and Richard are alike. The dangling plot thread as to what happened to them leads nowhere. Knowing that and knowing that Oscorp is but a small cog in the TASM story and not an overarching villain as they hoped, allowed me to minimize its involvement and not overanalyze it too much.
I’ve said way more than I expected. Andrew Garfield is definitely a better Peter Parker/Spider-Man than Tobey. Holland’s films are just so stinking good that I have a hard time putting Garfield over him completely. Garfield is the perfect junior/senior heading to college Peter Parker. He’s what Gerry Conway wrote about after Stan finally gave up ASM. Tom Holland embodies the teenage Peter that started out in Amazing Fantasy #15 as well as the version that Brian Michael Bendis perfected in Ultimate.
I can’t believe it took me 10 years to come around on it. TASM 2 is a big old mess other than the Gwen, Peter, and May parts. Ain’t no coming back from that.