(Inspired by Sean Chandler)
In less than a week, Spider-Man No Way Home will debut exclusively in theatres and the internet is going absolutely nuts! They are hyping this film to the max, going wild with theories, and are giving Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield some annoyance! However as excited as I am to see these characters on the big screen, I actually see a few alarming red flags in regards to the trailers and what Tom Holland has revealed in interviews. Let me explain!
Before we go any further, I must inform that I’m not a hater! I love Spider-Man and have thoroughly enjoyed Tom Holland’s portrayal as this character. And to be honest, I do hope the film proves me wrong for all of my concerns. I would love that! However, at the moment as excited as I am at the prospect of seeing some familiar faces, I just see some concerning information from the second trailer and things revealed about the film’s production. So, let’s get started!
For this first topic, we must go back to August 2019. You have got to remember that Sony and Marvel broke up! Mom and dad weren’t getting along, moved into two different homes. In response, Tom talked with both of them and got mom to move back in at least long enough to get this movie made. Now, a rocky start doesn’t mean the film is doomed immediately. However, with everything else I’ve got to say, it becomes a much bigger concern in-line with everything else. Which leads me to my number two.
It’s been confirmed that Sony originally wanted to release this film in July of this year. This would’ve been a two-year gap from Far From Home, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Far From Home came out two years after Homecoming and Spider-Man 2 came out two years after Spider-Man (2002). So it isn’t like it’s never been done to Spider-Man films, but when you do that, you have no margin if something goes wrong. You’re going to have to commit to get the project done no matter how much you must work with. And I don’t know about you, but that’s how I see this. Sony was focused on releasing new Spider-Man films every two years. This meant getting a new one in 2021, EVEN THOUGH, mommy and daddy broke up. They had the ambition to make this complex story of multiverse and bringing in characters from other universes with Doctor Strange in the mix. BUT, just a few months after Far From Home, Sony and Marvel ghosted each other! A month goes by, and they’re back together again and start to write a script. That is not enough time to make a script that’s tied to a grander mythology. That is one heck of a short time to make a film with this scale. Now, it got pushed back by six months thankfully, BUT THAT’S BECAUSE OF COVID! I haven’t even gotten to the fact that a global pandemic screwed up the film’s production. If Sony was lucky, this film would’ve been released half a year ago, despite the fact just two years ago Marvel and Sony weren’t interacting with each other. Now that’s what I would call a rushed production in which Sony was more focused on the perfect release date, rather than focus on the perfect screenplay. Trust me, I’ve got more to say about that screenplay soon.
Fan Service over Story
Let’s face it. All of the things the fans are chattering about, all of the discussions on the casting choices and everything else revolves around which old characters/actors are going to show up and when are we going to see them. Everything the fans are going nuts about ties back to the prospect of seeing faces that are outside of the MCU. Less than 1% are excited for the plot. And I’m not going to be a dirty hypocrite! When I first saw Alfred Molina show up in the first trailer as Doc Oct, my head exploded. Even the person writing this is mostly hyped because of the return for Alfred Molina and possibly Willem Dafoe returning as Green Goblin!
When the second trailer dropped, I was talking to some friends on some sketchy things. And I got answers like, “What are you concerned about? This movie’s going to awesome! It’s got Doctor Octopus, possibly other Spider-Man, maybe even some more”. Here’s the thing, having a bunch of familiar faces showing up doesn’t make a film awesome. It just doesn’t. It’s fun and I’ll probably go insane for the fan service, but that’s just fan service.
Let’s talk about a film with some great fan service Doctor Sleep. As the sequel to The Shining, it has tons of references and fan service of its source material. But here’s the thing, all of the fan service comes in the final 30 minutes even though this film is two and a half hours long and three hours long if you watch the director’s cut. Meaning it takes two hours of great story and then it asks, “Hey you guys invested? Here’s a bunch of awesome stuff you remember and we’re going to use all of this to make our story epic”! That’s how to do fan service.
You don’t get an audience invested through cool Easter eggs and pop culture references. That’s like going to a party and for dinner time, you just go all in with the desserts and skip out on the entrée. You fill the majority of your stomach with the entrée (the story), and then as a reward you get some dessert (fan service). Judging from what I’ve seen from the second trailer, it looks like all this film is going to bring to the party is going to be dessert.
Now you could argue that Avengers Endgame was a film that only brought dessert to the table. I could understand why you’d think that way. They showed shots from past MCU films and locations we had already visited. Those are fair points, but Endgame was the endgame of the MCU. They spent 22 movies and eleven years to earn all of the fan service sprinkled in the third act. There were things set up three, seven, ten years earlier that paved the way to earn all of those moments. Avengers Endgame wasn’t temporarily the highest grossing film of all time because everyone wanted the fan service. They came to see how in the hell would they defeat Thanos after the events of Infinity War.
In regards to Spider-Man No Way Home, this film is mostly based around the fact that Doctor Octopus is in it and Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield MIGHT show up.
Tom Holland’s Revealing GQ Interview
Right above this title is a paragraph part of an interview GQ published a few weeks ago. Tom Holland reveals some alarming information on the film’s production. In case you can’t read the paragraph here it is: The production of No Way Home sounds like total chaos. As the first day of filming approached, several key actors hadn’t signed on yet. “Some people were trying to figure out whether they wanted to do it, and we needed all of them or none,” Holland says. The movie was reportedly going to be released after the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel, but when that film was delayed by COVID, it was decided that No Way Home would go first, requiring changes to the plot. Even once filming was underway, the script was being rewritten on an almost daily basis. “You could ask the director, ‘What happens in act three?’ And his response would be, ‘I’m still trying to figure it out,’ ” Holland says.
OKAY! In just one paragraph, we have three distressing red flags! Firstly, they started filming before they could sign on all the actors that we’re required for the story. So apparently, they were charging to get production done, even when they weren’t 100% certain if everyone was on board. Not the best sign but not the worst either, however it ties back to Sony’s desire to make a deadline.
Secondly, this film was supposed to come out after Doctor Strange 2. Doctor Strange seems to be a major part of this film. This film has multiverse and the upcoming Doctor Strange film has the word Multiverse in its title! And yet, they had to rework this movie so it could take place before that film during pre-production. If your goal is to make a great film, here’s what you do: “Oh! The upcoming movie that’s tide to ours is being delayed? Let’s delay ours!”. If your goal however is to hit a release date, it’s going to go like this: “Well we got to get this out. So let’s jumble the plot and you know we’ll figure it out.” That’s pretty alarming if you ask me.
Thirdly, Tom Holland admits that you could ask the director on how the film was going to end and you’d get an answer on how they’re still trying to figure that out.
Here’s the thing, there are many classic films that were being written during production. I mean Die Hard was being written/rewritten constantly during filming. It by no means is terribly rare in Hollywood, but it’s certainly not the best way to do things. The complex your story is, the more difficult it is to do that. Die Hard may had been being written constantly during filming but Die Hard is not a sequel and is a fairly simple story. Spider-Man No Way Home is a sequel, has multiverse, has Doctor Strange and potentially more than that. A story with already all of those parts is difficult enough to write during pre-production. It’s even more difficult to write it on set when you don’t even know what the finale’s going to be like, it’s really easy to make a story that isn’t cohesive.
The paragraph right below the one I just went over has some things to say about it too. Anyway, the day finally came to shoot the big finale, “the crescendo scene, like, is this really fu**ing happening? It’s crazy.” Only, it wasn’t working. “I kept stopping and being like, ‘I’m so sorry, I just don’t believe what I’m saying.’ ” The director, Jon Watts, took him aside, and Holland told him: It wasn’t me. The scene was wrong. “We sat down, we went through it, and we came up with a new idea,” Holland says. “Then we pitched it to the writers, they rewrote it, and it works great.”
Once again, stuff like this happens where an actor didn’t feel too well on a scene, and it turns out fine. However, when your lead actor fundamentally disagrees on the ending and so it’s rewritten on set, it just seems like one troubled production.
The Potential Aftermath
This isn’t necessarily a concern I have. This is more of a prediction on how I think the legacy of this film will be like. Let’s go back to 1999. Around this time period, a film was on its way to theatres and everyone went nuts over it. A film that tied into a franchise so beloved and so iconic. That film was The Phantom Menace. That film similarly made fans go nuts. When everyone saw it, people acted like it was the greatest movie ever made. As the years went along however, people accepted the fact on ow mediocre it was.
The Phantom Menace had such an impact on the pop-culture before/after its release, that film critic Chris Stuckmann made a term called Phantom Menacing. In his words, “Any film can be Phantom Menaced. You can be so excited for this movie. You feel like your entire life’s happiness is riding on the success of this movie. You get so pumped out of your mind that you might actually cry when you get the chance to see it. Then you see it, and you leave the theatre and you become in denial about how bad it actually was, and you stay in denial for many years until you eventually reveal to yourself, ‘You know what, that wasn’t that good.’” To be honest, I do think this film will be Phantom Menaced by many people. The way people are hyping this film, they’re more likely to be disappointed.
What if I’m Wrong
When you have a studio that’s rushing towards a release date, despite during a pandemic, despite the studio broke up with Disney-Marvel, despite the movie that was supposed to come out before it being delayed, despite not having everyone signed up, despite a script some aren’t happy with, all I see are giant red flags. If you’re reading this (thank you), and you’re thinking, “Wow! This guy is going to be so wrong!”, I got to say, I would LOVE that! AM I EXCITED TO SEE ALFERD MOLINA AS DOCTOR OCTOPUS AGAIN? AM I EXCITED AT THE PROSPECT OF WILLEM DAFOE ONE MORE TIME AS GREEN GOBILN? OF COURSE I AM! BUT I WANT IT TO BE EARNED! I WANT THE FILM TO BE AS GOOD AS THOSE MOMENTS! However, from what I’ve seen from the trailers alongside what’s been revealed on the film’s production, it makes me doubt that that’ll be the case. I’m predicting this is going to be a fan service movie that I’ll enjoy, but a movie without a compelling story. I would love to be wrong and say this is my favourite Spider-Man movie. However, I’m feeling like that’s going to be the case.