Immediately after the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, and some time after the events of Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spidey’s (Tom Holland) secret identity is leaked on the web, causing major problems for the arachnid wunderkind. He goes to old pal Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a spell to solve his woes. But things go awry, leading to the return of some ghosts of Spideys’ past.
The premise feels like a last roll of the dice for a character who has come back more times than Arnold Schwarzenegger. But if so it rolls a double six, with a story which will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. The return of so many old faces (or same-aged faces thanks to the wonders of CGI) means little backstory is needed, allowing space for development of characacters spanning the franchises, as well as plenty of jaw-dropping action.
It’s particularly nice to see Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man get decent closure after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 left so many loose ends, but not as nice as it is to see Andrew Garfield in spandex again. Sam Raimi’s original trilogy wins out in the land of the villains with the return of the scene-stealing Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin (they sensibly ditch his Power Ranger mask early on) and the legendary Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), who gives us everything we want from a mechanical mollusc and more.
There are jokes about the absurdity of it all, but they never cheapen the film or its predecessors. This is a film that only Marvel could get away with, making animated adventure Into The Spider-Verse feel like a practice run. It spins together numerous characters and arcs into a coherent whole which pays respect to the legacies of its predecessors, while being engrossing and entertaining from beginning to end. It shouldn’t work, but they do whatever a spider can to make sure it does.