Review: Spider-Man and Hawkeye, MCU stuff, spoilers etc

Spider-Man: No Way Home actually has a cinema advert from the cast asking people who see the film not to spoil it. Notably, the key spoiler isn’t the plot (the trailers explain the main premise: the world finds out Peter Parker is Spiderman, he gets Dr Strange to magic that problem away and it all goes wrong…leading to visitors from earlier versions of Spider-Man visiting the current one). The “spoilers” are the identities of the multiple cameos about which there has been a lot of speculation. The warning about spoilers gets some of its own absurdity (i.e. if it is possible to be spoiled, then that confirms the speculation, hence the warning itself is a spoiler) by having Jamie Foxx (Electro from the Andrew Garfield Amazing Spiderman films) also cautioning people about spoilers only to be reminded by Tom Holland et al. that he is one of the spoilers.

Anyway, spoilers after the fold.

Spiderman: No Way Home is a further extrapolation of the Marvel trend towards films that actually make more sense as a series of episodes of a TV show edited together. The chunks make sense (sort of) and I found them very entertaining but the overall whole of the film feels oddly disjointed. Like other MCU films, a lot of what it is doing is determined by commercial elements (the complexity of the ownership of the Spider-Man film rights, the acquisition by Disney of other Marvel film rights) and the overall MCU film strategy (the shift of Spider-Man & Dr Strange as the main continuity characters for MCU and the introduction of the multiverse). These aspects aren’t hidden.

The Sony Spider-Man films make money for Sony and integrating with the MCU makes commercial sense, so a film that brings the back catalogue together with the MCU also makes sense. And what can I say, it is kind of fun to have a film where two previous sets of films intersect with a current version in what is largely a silly romp. The non-MCU animated Into the Spiderverse film which focused on the Miles Morales Spider-Man did the multiverse thing better but the new film played the celebrity cameo card very well. It’s arguably a lazy way of creating audience excitement but the audience excitement when various actors appeared was very genuine in the cinema I was in (for a full list to be 100% spoiled, visit the Wikipedia page ).

The other moving-pieces-around-on-the-board element of the film was the eventual resolution. The Tom Holland Spider-Man was introduced into a Marvel universe that for commercial reasons was Spider-Man free. So we’ve had four films (five including Endgame) where Spider-Man is essentially defined in terms of his connection to the MCU Tony Stark/Ironman. This third film essentially resets that situation, placing Peter Parker as an unknown quantity in a world in which Spider-Man is his own thing. This makes the earlier Tom Holland films now more of a prologue.

Speaking of film franchise complexity…Into the Spiderverse included Kathryn Hahn as Dr Octavius who, of course, was Agatha Harkness in Wandavision. Another, Spiderverse/MCU cross-over is Hailee Steinfeld, who played Gwen Stacey/Spider-Woman in the animated film but who has recently been playing Kate Bishop in the Hawkeye TV MCU spin-off.

Hawkeye, is a strange entry to the Disney+ MCU series. Like the others, there’s a strong comedic element to the show but the broad themes are about loss and mourning and surviving trauma. The whole thing almost doesn’t work as a consequence but a very beaten-down Jeremy Renner (who generally I’m not a fan of) does an excellent job playing a not-so-super hero who has had just one too many fights and one too many tragic losses. The rest of the cast is excellent also, including Florence Pugh as Black Widow’s sister Yelena.

The conflict is also much more “street-level”, with a plot centred around a criminal gang (portrayed surprisingly sympathetically) and Hawkeye attempting to both erase and atone for his “Ronin” persona that he adopted when his family were eliminated by Thanos.

This takes us around to the final episode and another surprise cameo. The bad guy behind the whole plot turns out to be Wilson Fisk, which makes sense as he is the literal kingpin of crime in Marvel’s New York City. However, Fisk as a character has a problem shared by a number of Marvel’s characters on screen: one actor has become almost synonymous with the role. For Hawkeye, they chose the sensible option and brought back Vincent D’Onoforio, whose intense version of the character dominated the Netflix/Marvel gritty Daredevil series.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, cameos in Spider-Man. I assume there’s a board in Disney HQ where they have all this mapped out with photos and red string.

Joining, both these things together was one of the earliest cameos in Spiderman: No Way Home. In trouble with the law for the apparent murder of Mysterio in the previous film (fueled by a hate campaign by a very Alex Jones-like J. Jonah Jameson played naturally by J. K. Simmons), Peter Parker’s lawyer is, of course, Matt Murdock aka Daredevil and played by Charlie Cox as the same character from the aforementioned Netflix/Marvel gritty Daredevil series.

Well yes, this is pandering to fans but it is also a lot of fun. If you have a great big playground of interconnected films then why not make use of a great big playground of interconnected films.

9 responses to “Review: Spider-Man and Hawkeye, MCU stuff, spoilers etc”

  1. It was a fun movie, although I basically hate all the plots where they show the superheroes as basically menaces that cause more problems than they fix. If Peter Parker had just moved on with his life, none of the problems in the movie would have happened. The same with the previous movie, he caused all the destruction himself by bad decisions. Not to talk about the menace Tony Stark was.

    I would prefer to see superhero movies showing heroes and not just bumbling idiots trying to fix problems they themselves are the cause of.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, if nothing else, we’ve learned not to believe anything actors say about Marvel as both Charlie Cox and Andrew Garfield denied they were in the movie.

    I can’t understand people’s fixation over spoilers. How does it lessen the enjoyment of a movie if you learn Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Charlie Cox are going to show up as their previous characters? If anything, it would make me look forward to the film even more, to see just how they are going to be worked in. Anyway, now that Marvel has made it plain Phase 4 will concentrate on the multiverse, fans should expect stuff like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really hate spoilers. I try to avoid watching trailers at all. There’s several movies I’ve skipped out on watching because I assume I have seen all the interesting moments in the trailers already.

      And some – looking at you Suicide Squad – where it turned out I *had* already seen all the interesting things in the trailer. That was a movie really destroyed by spoilers.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was expecting to be meh about “Hawkeye”, because he really didn’t do much in any of the movies and Renner’s acting is… variable.

    But the humor was unbelievably charming, in sight gags worthy of a comic book, in snarky comments, and in sheer silliness, like the gang always saying “bro” and Jack being a fencing fanatic, and of course the cheesy musical. The first responder LARPers were delightful, good nerd representation. Also big Deaf representation.

    And then the character bits would come along and give you ALL the feels about love and loss. The scene with Clint and Yelena was… ooof.

    While Kingpin himself is unnaturally able to survive things, we got to see just what the years of being non-super have done to Clint, written all over Renner’s face, pointed out in the scenes of he and Kate bandaging and applying freezer contents to themselves.

    Plus a cute doggo, and the best-ever Chekhov’s Gun Christmas Tree.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. All I can say is that my son and I (he 21, I 60) were overwhelmed by joy watching both NWH and Hawkeye. There is the humor, of course, but I think the biggest part is the earnest goodness of the characters and their efforts to do right despite what life is throwing at them, as well as the delight they seem to take in doing so. Look at how Kate’s face lights up when Clint tells her that they can make more trick arrows.

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