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Face-Off: Spider-Man 2 vs. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Great to see you again, thrill seekers big and small! About one year ago today we did a Face-Off against two versions of the famous Web-Head, SPIDER-MAN and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, all in celebration of the upcoming SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. Now that HOMECOMING has come and made its greatness known, we will be taking it and comparing it to another phenomenal Spidey outing, SPIDER-MAN 2.

This comes in celebration of the recently released ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, Marvel Studios' latest sequel. SPIDER-MAN 2 was the follow-up to the first Raimi/Maguire SPIDER-MAN movie and blew everyone away with its improved story and effects. It stands as one of the best in the genre to this day, acting as a shining example of how to do a sequel right. Then we have HOMECOMING, which gave us a Spider-Man movie for the modern era, delivering tons of laughs, thrills, heart and showcasing a tremendous lead performance from Tom Holland.

The battle of the Wall-Slinger is back on, so get on your favorite Spider-Man pajamas that you all should have and scroll on down!

THE ENSEMBLE
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doc Ock
James Franco as Harry Osborn
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
Dylan Baker as Curt Connors
Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant
Bill Nunn as Robbie
with Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker
and Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture
Marisa Tomei as May Parker
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Zendaya as Michelle
Jacob Batalon as Ned
Laura Harrier as Liz
Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson
Bookem Woodbine as Herman Schultz/Shocker 2
Martin Starr as Mr. Harrington
Michael Chernus as Phineas Mason/The Tinkerer
Logan Marshall-Green as Jackson Brice/Shocker 1
with Jennifer Connelly as the voice of Karen
DIRECTION
What I love about Sam Raimi's work on SPIDER-MAN 2 is how well he handles the heavier themes of this second go-around, ensuring that the conflict in the characters is front and center. He uses a lot of tight, close shots of characters like Peter, Mary Jane, and Otto during the more dramatic moments to capture the palpable emotion coming from the characters, offering a rich, human examination. You can tell he was vastly more interested in exploring Peter as a conflicted hero, with his love of MJ at the core. Of course, now that he's got some more big budget experience under his belt he was also able to craft some action set pieces that blow the doors off anything in the first film. The train sequence, in particular, is tremendous, juggling the intensity of the barreling train with the spectacle of seeing Spidey swing between buildings, leaping onto the train, etc. The bank robbery scene is great too, with it escalating to a thrilling brawl along the edge of a building. Overall, his sense of space is exquisite, giving the action plenty of scope and the quiet moments the proper intimacy. Oh, and what would a Sam Raimi movie be without some flashes of horror. That operation room scene? Fantastic!
Jon Watts is a booming talent out of the indie scene, leaping from the great flick COP CAR with Kevin Bacon to the much, much bigger SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. He makes the transition with ease by bringing to life a bright, hysterical, exciting and often touching tale of a teenage Peter Parker. Inspirations for this movie come from the works of classic John Hughes movies like FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, which, in this movie's case, is demonstrated by always keeping in mind that Parker is a teenager through and through. Watts does a fantastic job creating an atmosphere that's innocent and playful, doing just enough to live up the superhero brand, but never forgetting at the center of it all is this kid named Peter. Scenes like when Parker is having to run across backyards and a golf course to try and catch the bad guys, or awkwardly trying to find the owner of a stolen bike work so well and come off as so funny because Watts meshes the fantastical elements with real-world environments, all of which is bolstered by a perfect Tom Holland performance. I'm anxious to see how he maintains this style while upping the ante in the sequel.
SCRIPT
SPIDER-MAN 2 could have been very, very bad. In essence, we could've seen SPIDER-MAN 3 years earlier, as an early draft of the script featured Doc Ock, The Lizard, and Black Cat as the villains. Then there was another draft that had Doc Ock, Peter and MJ being in a love triangle and...*sight...it sounds like a mess. Anyway, this led Raimi to bring in veteran, two-time Oscar winner Alvin Sargent to rein it all in and focus on a more dramatic story about Peter overcoming his emotional conflicts and dealing with the responsibilities of being a hero. This takes from SUPERMAN II, in which there's a point when Superman removes his powers to be with Lois Lane. This movie expands on that with Sargent crafting a very poignant script that always makes sure Peter is being challenged in one way or another, showcasing his struggles both with and without his powers. What path will he choose? There's a case made that either could bring him some happiness, but ultimatley he accepts his calling. Sargent also manages to juxtapose a similar story for Doc Ock, showing him as a man who has strayed from his path and, like Peter, must decide what man he's going to be. The script is focused and knows exactly what story it wants to tell, and never wastes a beat telling this compelling story of responsibility and choices.
After being plucked out of minor YouTube fame and being given the chance of a lifetime by Tony Stark, HOMECOMING finds Peter Parker desperate to prove himself. Trying to carve your own path is an element in any coming-of-age story, and HOMECOMING's script by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Christoper Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, and Watts takes that style and infuses it with big-budget, superhero thrills. We see Parker struggling to understand his powers, constantly finding himself out of his element. This keeps the story exciting and open to a wide array of scenarios across numerous locations and, best of all, keeps it funny and lively. Goldstein and Daley set out to differentiate HOMECOMING from past Spidey movies, which is ultimatley the script's greatest success, and because of this the movie sounds and plays out like no other movie with the character before it. The school setting is a massive contributing factor, with Pete being surrounded by a wide net of supporting players that flesh out his world and add a whole other layer of humor. Throw in some thoughtful moments and you have a terrific story and script that make the most of the new Spider-Man and the fact he's back where he belongs: Marvel. And school. He needs to be in school.
THE LEAD
Tobey Maguire is the first Spider-Man, and his work still holds up to this day. He's a sensitive Parker and one who is always at odds with his responsibilities. In this one he really gets to shine in ways he doesn't in the first and third movies, bringing out the best of that emotionally challenged character. His work is understated and hones in on Parker's more reserved sensibilities, coming off as suitably vulnerable. This might make him the least engaging of the three Spider-Men, but he's the only one who is yet to be given the material to tap into the emotional conflicts of the character, and for that, he is still a memorable Web-Head. Okay, that comes off as more convincing if you forget Emo Parker from Spidey 3
I've said it once and I'll say it again: Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man yet. Yep, some of you may have nostalgia for Maguire, or may even like the charm of Andrew Garfield, and though those two are great, Holland is the only one who has the whole package. He's naive, sensitive, smart, quippy, playful, brave, reckless, good-natured, awkward and everything else that teenage superhero should be. There's a reason why Spider-Man is seen as the best superhero ever by so many, and it's because he's a relatable hero who faces the daily struggles we all have. During his younger years, he's trying to juggle getting his homework done, and as he gets older he takes on weightier responsibilities, and all while being a web-slinging superhero. There's something so pure and uncomplicated about him, and what's special about Holland's Parker is he brings all of that out with charm and energy.
BEST BITS & LINES

Pizza Boy

Onlooker: "Whoa... He just stole that guy's pizza!"

Poor Peter

Peter: "Mr. Jameson, please, isn't there any of these shots you can use? I really need the money."

Jameson: "Awww. Miss Brant?"

Miss Brant: "Yeah?"

Jameson: "Get me a violin."

Mary Jane and Peter

Pete Meets Octavius

Octavius: "Intelligence isn't a privilage, it's a gift. And you use it for the good of mankind."

An Incovienient Chase

Late ft. Bruce Campbell

No Powers

The Awkward Elevator

Elevator Passenger: "Looks uncomfortable..."

Spider-Man: "Yeah, it's kind of itchy...and it rides up in the crotch a little bit, too."

Reaction Gone Wrong

The Monster in the Operation Room

Falling Again

In the Car with Ben/Spider-Man No More

Peter: "No, Uncle Ben. I'm just Peter Parker. I'm Spider-Man... no more. No more."

Finding the Suit

The Burning Building

Confessing to May

Wise Words From May

May: "I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams."

He's Back...Sort Of!

Coffee Shop Chaos

Doc Ock: "Find him. Or I'll peel the flesh off her bones."

The Train Fight

Stopping the Speeding Train

Peter and Harry

Peter: "There are bigger things happening here than me and you."

The Final Fight

Identity Revealed

MJ: "Go get em', Tiger."

Meet Toomes

Toomes: "World's changing boys; time we changed too."

Pete's Video Diary

Tony: "Just don't do anything I would do... and definitely don't do anything I wouldn't do. There's a little gray area in there and that's where you operate."

Heroing After School

Street Vendor:"Hey! You're that spider guy from TV!"

Spider-Man:"Call me Spider-Man."

Street Vendor: "Ok, Spider-Man. Do a flip."

[Spider-Man does a flip]

Street Vendor:"YEAH!"

Fighting "The Avengers"

Spider-Man: "Wait a minute, you guys aren't the real Avengers! I can tell Hulk gives it away."

Cap Video #1

Tony: "Can't you just be a friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man?"

House Party/Gun Deal Gone Wrong

Vulture Steps In

Suit Features

Washington Memorial/Spider Wings!!

Mr. Harrington: "Couldn't bear to lose a student on a school trip...not again."

Cap Video #2

Ferry Fight

Peter: "I was just trying to be like you."

Tony:"I wanted you to be better."

Peter: "I'm nothing without the suit!"

Tony: "If you're nothing without the suit, then you shouldn't have it."

Peter Meets Toomes

Leaving the Dance

The Guy in the Chair!

Teacher: "What are you doing here the dance is going on?"

Ned: "Oh I was just um... looking at... porn."

Under the Rubble

Peter: "Come on, Spider-Man!"

Airplane Battle

The Final Fight

A New Avenger

Aunt May:"What the f---!"

Mid-Credits: Toomes and The Scorpion

End-Credits: Final Cap PSA

PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN
While the "The Lead" category got into the actual performances of the actors, this one will examine the treatment of Parker in the actual movies. In the case of SPIDER-MAN 2, we have the best examination of the character in any of the movies, except maybe HOMECOMING. What has always made Parker such an endearing character is his battle against balancing superhero business and normal life, and illustrating that conflict is the whole point of this movie. Here we see him struggle to reconcile the two lives, driving him to make challenging decisions. It's a comic book character study if there ever was one, (with THE DARK KNIGHT and LOGAN since joining such ranks), and this movie celebrates what makes the character so complex and endearing.
While SPIDER-MAN 2 deals with some more adult themes in Parker's life, HOMECOMING tackles the issues that would indeed plague him as a teen. Like all people his age he's struggling to figure out where he fits into this whole "life" thing, on top of learning to become the hero. The movie places Parker in a story that finds him failing and discovering and failing again, molding him into the hero he's bound to become. Though it's not the first time we see him in the MCU and we skip over the bug-biting incident, this is the best origin story Spider-Man has had yet.
MUSICAL MASTERY
As I said in the previous Spider-Man Face-Off last year, Danny Elfman's score for the Spider-Man movies is some of his best work, giving sound and scope to the Web-Head's swinging and leaping. The music makes the character quite larger than life, and here he delivers some softer, more melodic pieces to accompany the more dramatic tone. A scene where Spider-Man is soaring through the night sky, contemplative and troubled, is peaceful and a touch magical, but then shifts to terror as the character plummets to the ground after losing his powers. Then there's some piece that targets the more frightening aspects, mainly when Doc Ock is onscreen. I would even go as far as to say Elfman's work here is some of the best superhero music of the genre, right up there with John Williams for Superman, Elfman's work on BATMAN, John Ottman with X-Men, and Alan Silvestri for THE AVENGERS (and INFINITY WAR).
Ah, welcome back, Michael Giacchino. A Face-Off regular, Giacchino is certainly the busiest composer working today. I can see why, because he really is fantastic at what he does. He always finds a way to give a movie unique sound, and for HOMECOMING he crafts one that brims with curiosity, eagerness and fast-paced energy. Basically, he put Peter Parker into a score. There's not a lot here that will go towards giving Parker a theme all his own like Elfman crafted, but it's a great score for the movie we got.
VFX/SPECTACLE
Aside from some character animations, the visual effects in SPIDER-MAN 2 hold unremarkably well. Spidey looks just as awesome swinging off webs between buildings as ever, meshing nicely with the massive New York setting. The city itself is used very well in the action, with Ock and Spidey fighting on buildings and during a still amazing train sequence. There's Ock himself, with his mechanical arms looking menacing and incredibly realistic, with each having a mind of their own. The budget was bigger this time around and Raimi does a lot more with the budget while not bloating the flick with ugly CGI set pieces. It's been 14 years, and yet everything in the movie is just as effective and thrilling as they've ever been.
The effects in this movie are pretty cool, with some set pieces like the Staten Island Ferry scene and the airplane climax stealing the show. Then there's Spidey's suit, which is filled with all kinds of cool gadgets. The Vulture costume looks pretty cool, even if some of his bigger moments are at night, and it's hard to really admire the details. But by Marvel standards, I wouldn't exactly call this a special effects extravaganza. It reminds me more of ANT-MAN, wherein there are some cool effects laced throughout a more grounded story.
BIG BADDIE
Doc Ock is one of the best villains to come out of any Marvel movie, with Alfred Molina giving him a tragic, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde aura. He's a man graced with intelligence who loses sight of himself after his life's work and the love of his life are taken from him. Molina seamlessly moves between dastardly, charming, and incredibly sinister at the flip of a switch, which makes him always entertaining and his descent into evil all the more heartbreaking knowing underneath it all is a warm, brilliant man. What I like best about his conflict with Peter is that, by the end, Peter isn't trying to kill him or even defeat him as other superhero movies would have their heroes do. Instead, he's trying to save him. Peter knows inside is the caring man he once knew, and you can't help but root for Ock to redeem himself.
Michael Keaton goes from hero of Gotham to sadistic villain here, and he so excellently wears the mask of a vicious, blue-collar villain. His desire to do anything he can to support his family reflects the nature of many men in this country, albeit Toomes takes it a bit too far. He's desperate and totally willing to do whatever is necessary, which makes him a genuine threat to Peter. The threat from him is so imposing simply because Peter has never seen anything like this before in anyone, a massive step up in every way from common ATM thugs. It was a smart move to give Peter such an adult villain in this first solo MCU flick, and between that and Keaton's performance we have one of the best villains yet in the MCU.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
As noted before, the spectacle in this movie is pretty outstanding, with every action scene something to Marvel at. But this movie feels just as much like a character study as it does an action flick. As a result, the movie is always interesting and worthy of repeat viewings, but there does feel like long gaps in the action, and these earlier movies aren't exactly laugh riots. Look, this is a fun movie when the action gets going, so I'm not going to say it's not entertaining. But compared to colorful, goofy competition...
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is pouring out of the seams with bright action scenes and constant humor from the cast. Whether we're in the school, hanging out with just Ned and Peter, or watching Spidey in web-slinging, quippy action there is always something to laugh at or be excited by. Much like ANT-MAN, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY or THOR: RAGNAROK, SPIDER-MAN works just as much as a comedy as an action movie, and we can thank Holland as Peter and the school setting for that. The movie works like an ensemble sitcom, fit with a cast of characters with their own quirky personalities. Stack on some superhero action, a ton of Easter eggs and the always engaging Keaton and we have one of Marvel's most effortlessly rewatchable outings yet.
AWARDS, PRAISE & MONEY
Oscars:
    Won:
    Best Visual Effects
    Nominated:
    Best Sound Mixing
    Best Visual Editing
Golden Schmoes:
    Won:
    Best Special Effects
    Best Trailer of the Year
    Best Action Sequence (Train Sequence)
    Nominated:
    Favorite Movie
    Most Overrated Movie
    Coolest Character (Doc Ock)
    Favorite Poster
    Best DVD

**Total 24 Wins and 60 nominations**

Praise Money:
    $373 million domestic ($783 million global)

And none for Gretchen Wieners

**5 wins and 8 nominations (per IMDb)**

Praise

Money:
    $334 million domestic ($880 million global)
SPIDER-MAN 2
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING is a fantastic Marvel outing, and was not only one of my favorite movies of 2017, but stands as one of my favorite comic book movies ever. On many fronts, I do like it more than its competition, but, in the end, SPIDER-MAN 2 is much too mighty a sequel. Everything in this movie is better than in the first, including the effects, the music, the performances, the villain, story, VFX, direction -- everything! It's one of the most well-rounded comic book movies out there that matches its compelling story with special effects that still manage to dazzle even today. Dramatic without being dull, and action-packed without being empty. After all these years and countless amazing comic book movies coming and going, SPIDER-MAN 2 remains one of the great titans of the genre.

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