So, in the past month I’ve seen three super hero movies - Spider-Man Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Wonder Woman. All three were incredible, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Possible minor spoilers ahead.
This was my least favorite of the three, but don’t take that as a negative when the competition’s so fierce. It’s like saying pizza is your least favorite out of pizza, sex, and video games. It’s just that a lot of my love for the Wonder Woman movie is actually relief. Relief that the current DC movie continuity isn’t completely cursed, and relief that a female-led superhero movie can actually do well. The movie’s biggest strength is that it fills me with hope for future movies. Wonder Woman gets so much right, and was so necessary to the movie industry, that it feels like sacrilege to point out the flaws.
But to be completely honest, I think the movie is sort of generic. 90% of what I loved about the movie only worked because it was Wonder Woman. If they’d swapped her out for a male character (let’s say Hercules if we want to keep the general theme), it would have been just another forgettable action flick. I love the movie, but it’s not going to be as rewatchable as the Marvel films.
Most movies try to save the best stuff for the end, but I found WW more entertaining at the beginning. The first half of the movie is outstanding, but the it gets a little dull towards the end, and the final battle is just your standard boss fight. The villains didn’t exactly sweep me off my feet, and the casting of the Big Bad seemed like an odd choice. More than anything I see the movie as a foot in the door, proof that female superheroes can succeed in Hollywood after all. In a future where female-led superhero films are more common, I’m not sure Wonder Woman will really stand out much. But the success of Wonder Woman means that future might actually happen, and that’s very important.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
This is my favorite of the three. If you liked the first one, it’s more of the same, though there’s more character development this time. While I love the first GotG, the characters were one-dimensional quip-generators, kind of like Suicide Squad in space. The sequel gives them more depth, which slows down the movie but not enough to make it boring.
The opening battle is one of my favorite movie sequences of all time. From the trailers, that particular fight looked underwhelming to me. But in the film itself, they actually made the scene better by taking the focus off the fighting itself. For spoilers sake I won’t to go into detail, but it had me dancing and singing in my seat.
People find me strange because I’m not very much into music. (Well, that’s not the only reason they find me strange.) In my life I’ve owned maybe 3 tapes and 6 CDs, and the ones I’ve owned haven’t seen a lot of use. I don’t have to listen to music while I’m driving, I don’t go to concerts, and I never just sit and listen to music while doing nothing else. I generally consider music as something to keep it from being too quiet, but I've never been into it. And yet, roughly 50% of my love for the GotG movies has to do with the soundtrack. The music ties into the action so well, that I simply can’t imagine the same films with a standard issue orchestral score. I’m happy to report GotG2’s soundtrack is just as good as the first, if not better.
GotG2 is definitely the most rewatchable of the three movies I’m reviewing here, and I can’t wait to wear out the blu-ray when it’s released. I will say that of the three, this movie is the least child-friendly (which is a weird thing to say about a movie with a talking raccoon). I don’t know if I would bring a small child to this one, as some of the language is a little strong for young ears (including a scene where they talk about Ego's penis), and some of the death scenes are a bit graphic. Not actually bloody, just… explicit.
A lot of people complain about reboots, and the Spider-Man franchise is their go-to example. Personally, I’m okay rebooting a series if you have a good reason for doing so. But I do hold a reboot to higher standards – did you really have an idea worth throwing out the old continuity? In this case, definitely yes. Bringing Spidey into the MCU was the best thing that could have happened to the character. It changes the character so much. In the previous films he’s pretty much the only superhero in the world (as far as we know), but in the MCU he has people to look up to. Instead of just “I can outdo myself and help more people,” now there’s the additional element of “I want to impress the Avengers.”
I think the smartest thing they did was skip his origin story almost entirely. At this point everyone in the audience knows how Peter got his powers, and there was no reason to waste screen time on it. There’s one short conversation about getting bitten by a radioactive spider, but there’s almost no mention of Uncle Ben or how power relates to responsibility. Instead Peter’s moral code is just based around “it’s the right thing to do,” which is deep enough for a 15-year old boy, as far as I’m concerned. I think the Civil War movie summed it up best when Peter said, “When you can do the things that I can, but you don't, and then the bad things happen? They happen because of you.” Which is basically a different way of saying “with great power…” but sounds a lot more like how people actually talk.
Michael Keaton did a great job, and I found him a lot more believable than the ax-crazy moustache-twirling villains Spider-Man usually fights. In some ways I found his motivations a little too understandable, and I have to wonder how many of my friends would turn to supervillainy if presented with the same circumstances. Occasionally he'd lapse into his Beetlejuice voice for a second, which was distracting, but I didn't mind.
I loved the overall tone of the film. When the Ant-Man movie came out I kept saying how glad I was to see them using different genres. Instead of everything being just a “Superhero Action” film, some of them focus on comedy, sci-fi, drama, and so on. Well, Homecoming is a high school comedy that also happens to be a super hero film. I’ve seen several reviewers compare Homecoming to a modern John Hughes film, which might be giving Homecoming too much credit, but it’s easy to see what they mean.
So if you only get to see one of the above movies, which should you see?
Well, GotG2 is my favorite, but for other people I’m going to have to recommend Spider-Man. I think it has more universal appeal. But let’s face it, if you’re fanatic enough to be reading this, you’re probably going to see all three eventually.