90 – 100 mins of Spider–Man: Homecoming (2017) are one of the best movies that Marvel has made, the remainder of the 133 min runtime is filler, most of it featuring Robert Downey Jr. It doesn’t kill the film but it does make it drag and serves as a reminder that Marvel’s worst tendencies are not going anywhere.
To be honest, it would take a lot to kill this movie. Tom Holland is good in the central role and the film plays as a solid adventure comedy. It helps that the events are more grounded with the main antagonists being a gang of robbers, led by the fantastic Michael Keaton, who are trading in weapons made from the debris left in the wake of the Avengers’ work. This world has more in common with Jessica Jones (2015 – ) than Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and that is a major plus, as is the move away from the dead eyed ‘classic banter’ of the Avengers towards a more situational, personal and slightly odd style of humour.
But there is a bad taste here. As the movie is essentially the view from the cheap seats in relation to the events of the previous films it also has interesting political ideas. The real disappointment is that although the world logically suggests push back against these billionaire wizards and new gods, the industrial model in which the film is made can’t abide this. In another context the suggested Icarus tale (escaping a rigged game through determination and technology only to be brought down by hubris) would be a tragedy, in the Marvel Cinematic Content Delivery System its labelled villainy and must be stamped out.
After all, what would happen if we didn’t love Tony?!
With a heap of amazing visuals and an even more interesting cast, Dr Strange (2016) falls down because it just isn’t, not in the slightest. When we enter the Mirror Dimension all we find is the same ‘brilliant man undergoes a superficial change and remains brilliant’ story staring back at us and anything that is interesting merely reflects other, better movies. ‘Like that corridor fight but more’ is the creative vision, enlightenment tourism in Asia the weary trope.
…but I’m being too harsh because there is fun to be had here If you hadn’t seen a Marvel movie before I might suggest this one (although I probably wouldn’t as the Captain America stuff is by far the best). The Stan Lee cameo made me laugh, it’s got Tilda Swinton and Madds Mikkelsen in and you liked Inception (2010) and that bit in Ant-Man (2015) right?
Oh for another Hellboy movie. They were magic.
Jogging around the Washington Monument at dawn, the spectre of Nazi science, Robert Redford and a nice dose of conspiracy give Captain America: The Winter Soldier an interesting 70’s flavour that easily makes up for the loss of the WWII on steroids vibe of the first movie but what keeps Steve Rogers on the top of the Marvel pile is the moral clarity. Rogers does good things because that’s what you should do and he does them without the snark of Stark or the diva self-seriousness of Bruce Wayne.
Outside of the character concept the film is a cracking piece of entertainment with a very decent story that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and that alone beats the other, really quite bobbins, Marvel movies by a long stretch.