In recent decades, we’ve witnessed a spectacular evolution in special effects and the storylines of superhero movies. Gone are all the attempts by the public to find faults (at least obvious ones) in feature films. This breakthrough could create the illusion of having reached a ceiling in terms of the intensity of the movie-going experience. Is it so? Are we to assume that we’ve reached the top and that the experience of going to the movies can no longer surprise us? Not at all, Spiderman: No Way home is a clear example.
It all started a little less than 20 years ago. In this Spiderman movie, Tobey Maguire played the role of Peter Parker, although he wasn’t the first actor to do so and this wasn’t the first-ever superhero movie. However, without knowing it, we were facing an extremely important moment in the history of comic book superhero franchises. Along with the movie, X-Men (2000), Spider Man (2002) marked the beginning of a story that we already knew so well, the one that begins with the bite of a spider.
Success was assured. Bringing to life characters that we’d read about so many times was exciting. However, decades ago it would’ve been unthinkable that these fictional characters could be recreated with so much realism, giving them such marked and recognizable personalities. So much so that, for many comic book lovers it was almost mandatory to see these films which, by the early 2000s, had greatly increased in quality. The process also worked in the opposite direction, as people who were new to the world of comics also enjoyed the movies, thus sparking their interest in these publications.
Three Spiderman sagas and three different approaches
Tobey Maguire was the first Spiderman in a saga of movies (three) which included several charismatic villains played by great actors. After this trilogy, it was Andrew Garfield who put on the wall-crawling suit to star in a new saga. In this movie, we saw new characters and villains, but also some who’d appeared in the previous trilogy. Garfield played Spider-Man twice. Finally, the most contemporary Spiderman was embodied by Tom Holland. Apart from the three movies in which he plays Peter Parker, Holland was also in other Marvel blockbusters. For example, alongside Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, in Captain America: Civil War and the acclaimed Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
All of the Spiderman movies, despite telling similar stories, interpret the personality of the hero in different ways. For instance, the Peter Parker played by Tobey Maguire started out as an unpopular student who was a bit of an outcast and poorly integrated on a social level. On the other hand, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, while, again, not being the most popular boy in school, did show slightly different traits from Maguire’s previous portrayal. In fact, he was more self-confident and reflected his insecurities through verbose responses and marked nervous movements. Indeed, Garfield showed us an insecure but endearing Peter, perhaps a little more childlike than that of Tobey Maguire.
Tom Holland’s version shows an approach to Spiderman that’s also different from the previous ones. It moves the plot and the protagonist’s social circle around his adolescence. In fact, Tom Holland’s Spiderman reflects the most typically adolescent and friendly version of Peter Parker.
The multiverse of nostalgia
Some might think that the history of Spider-Man could be beginning to repeat itself and starting to be unappealing to the viewer. Nonetheless, Marvel has now brought the ‘multiverse’ to the big screen. This concept has been a really good opportunity for touching the hearts of many superhero fans. It’s been especially relevant for those of previous generations, who perhaps identified less with the new concept of Spiderman.
Since the announcement of Tom Holland’s third Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home, there’s been speculation about the appearance of characters seen in previous Spider-Man franchises. Characters like Doctor Octopus, played by Alfred Molina, or the Green Goblin, portrayed by Willem Dafoe. Fans hoped that not only these two villains would appear, but several more. Furthermore, the best was yet to come when, months before the premiere of the film, the rumor spread that Tom Holland wasn’t going to be the only actor to play Spiderman in the film.
Sony and Marvel decided to shield the premiere from spoilers so that prospective viewers wouldn’t have any clue in advance about what was going to happen. More particularly, the company decided to keep the secret of whether they were going to be allowed to see the three actors together embodying Spiderman. From a strategic point of view, the production companies did a magnificent job, as they kept millions of potential viewers excited and interested. People counted the hours to see each new trailer, and the expectation grew with every passing hour. Needless to say, it was, ultimately, a mythical moment for superhero lovers.
The film that moved several generations
16th December 2021, the long-awaited day of the premiere arrived and the atmosphere in most theaters certainly wasn’t the same as that of previous films. It seemed as if people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s had no qualms about exhibiting the inner child in themselves. Equally, it appeared that people familiar with the world of superheroes weren’t expecting the film simply to entertain them, they were expecting it to move them.
You only have to look at the reviews to perceive how emotion was, as anticipated, present throughout the film. Nostalgia was the real protagonist, either appearing as jokes from other movies or really emotional moments. In this way, Spiderman: No Way Home has marked the beginning of a new trend in the typical superhero movie. Indeed, having reached an almost unimaginable level in terms of special effects and plotline, undoubtedly viewers will now continue to flock to the big screen. That’s all thanks to Marvel’s secret weapon, the appeal to their emotions.
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