Listen Now

Spider-Man: No Way Home

February 8, 2022

Episode Show Notes

Did Spider-Man No Way Home deserve a best picture nomination? Is it just cheap fan service or is it something with more depth?

What is the worst use of fan service ever? What is the best? Does this film accomplish something we’ve never quite seen?

We debate, we get angry, and we let our nerd flags fly in this week’s episode of The Meaning Of The Movie. 



Spider-Man No Way Home

Rob: Hey everyone. Welcome to the meaning of the movie, our podcast, about what matters most when it comes to the film. I am your host, Rob Stinnett and I'm here today with my cohost, Andrew Harmon, Andrew, my man. What's up? 

Andrew: Oh, I'm so excited to talk about this movie today will Spiderman X. We're uh, excited to have you all here with us and just remember you haven't already go ahead and give us a rating.

Andrew: Just click one of those numbers and give us a review. If you've got a couple extra, extra seconds here, we always love to hear a while you like listening so 

Rob: you can review and subscribe. Number one thing is subscribe. It lets you get a new episode when it comes up. We also love reviews. Elise who's a friend of the podcast wrote you chew on movies long after you finished watching.

Rob: Then this is the podcast for you. Deep dives into films. If you love movies, give this a listen. Thank you, Elise. That's awesome. If you post reviews, we'll read one review every week as you're posting those up, but now Andrew, it is time to talk about the movie. Sure is. So last week we did Titanic, which is, I believe now the third highest grossing film of all time.

Rob: And today we're going to talk about the fourth, highest grossing film of all time. I promise we're going to break the streak after this. We're not. Keep talking about high grossing films, or try to do one classic episode where we talk about an older movie and then something current, something that's come about in the last five years.

Rob: So the classic is Titanic. And for this week for current, we're going to be talking about Spider-Man no way home. That's right. 

Andrew: Spiderman, no way home. The big box off of behemoth. Very excited to talk about. 

Rob: I just mentioned is the fourth highest grossing movie ever. And what's incredible is this is in a pandemic when everyone's streaming, instead of going to see the theaters, when so many movies are being delayed over and over again, all of a sudden out of nowhere, maybe not out of nowhere had a lot of highs, but smashing expectations, Spiderman comes and just packs out theaters and people 

Andrew: love.

Andrew: Absolutely. Like I thought it was going to do well, but I don't think anyone had the expectations that it was going to do this. Well, like you said, the fourth top grossing movie of all time, it's the second biggest MCU movie ever. It beat infinity war it beat the original Avengers. Like I don't think anyone was expecting that people love Spiderman, but this is next level.

Rob: So interesting when it comes to Spider-Man is there's this question that's kind of come up, which is Spider-Man cheap fan service or an authentic story building on a legacy. So I'm curious what you think is Spiderman, just fan service or is there something more to it? You know, like, is this just something like, Hey, we're just given all this stuff for the fans, we're just playing the greatest hits and that's why people like it.

Rob: That's why people flock to it is that all this movie. 

Andrew: Definitely not though. I was worried about that when the leak came out, that we were going to have all of the Spiderman in this movie. I remember when that started to leak and then became basically the worst kept secret in Hollywood for a year and a half.

Andrew: I was just like, you know what? In the original Toby McGuire franchise, they decided to pack as many villains as possible into the third movie. And that movie. Garbage. So are we going to do that here, but just pack as many Spiderman as we can into this movie? Just because we can and people would like it.

Andrew: Into the spider verse won an Oscar. So they're like, oh, let's do that live action. Disney has been like, Hey, we have something that works in animated form. Let's do it live action. That's been something they've been doing for years. So I didn't have a ton of faith that this was going to be anything other than.

Andrew: Hey, let's just do this live action for 

Rob: me. I have more faith in Marvel than I do kind of the other Spider-Man franchise, because, and the, you know, early two thousands, we were just kind of throwing stuff against the wall. See what would stick? I think Spiderman two is actually really good, but you know, by Spiderman three, it's true.

Rob: They lost everything. It kind of like unraveled. It was just like, Hey, we're going to put this villain in. We're going to put this in. And then this person's going to come back in and it just didn't work, but I have more faith in Marvel. So I thought this movie would be. What I did not think was this movie would be great.

Rob: And I'm not, again, I'm not sure how I'll feel a year from now, but I actually think this is a great film. Um, I, Oscar predictions haven't come out yet. I think this could even be nominated for best picture. There's kind of a dark horse chance that could happen. And if it did, I wouldn't have a problem with that, but one best picture.

Rob: I think that's a little much, but if it got nominated, I'm like, no, I think there's a case for it because I think this is actually. A really good, interesting movie. 

Andrew: I agree. I mean, it does what you want a movie like this to do. And I 

Rob: was actually thinking about Spiderman three and I'm like, why was that movie so bad?

Rob: And this one's so good. And I think what Marvel has learned to do so brilliantly. Is there treating their movies more like a TV show, like a really great prestige TV show. They kind of have that sort of respect where it's like, if in breaking bad, when a villain comes back from season three that you forgot all about, and then he comes out of nowhere and then when he comes.

Rob: The dude in the wheelchair with the Hector Salamanca, with the little bell comes out of nowhere. And then all of a sudden you're like, oh, I knew who that is. That's too close uncle. And there's all this history and they leverage it to tell something really good. I think that's what Marvel knows how to do as well.

Rob: They treat it more like a TV show is like, Hey, yes, there's all these characters, but what's interesting about Spiderman. No way. Home is every significant character. We had a history. We kind of knew who it was and they leaned into that to do really interesting stuff and make their own unique, original, fresh, 

Andrew: right.

Andrew: They've sort of passed the point where they try to catch you up. If you haven't seen other MCU movies, they've kind of reached a point where they don't bother trying to like toss a bunch of exposition to like, get you on the same page. You've seen it or you haven't. But a lot of franchise movies include a lot of expositions sometimes when they like introduce a fan favorite character, just in case you haven't seen the previous.

Andrew: And Marvel sort of, I feel like they gave up on doing that in end game when captain Marvel just like shows up to rescue Tony. They're like, if you didn't see the end credit scenes for captain Marvel, like we're not going to catch up. Yeah. Either you saw it or you didn't, you know? And so because of that, they have so much more time to sit and develop characters versus sort of like rehashing 

Rob: introductions.

Rob: And it's so interesting. And I've been thinking about this a bunch of like, okay, there are so many fan service. Movies out there right now. There's so many like nostalgia grab is just going on everywhere of just like, Hey, we have this IP, it's been sitting on the shelf, we're going to like re dust it off and make something.

Rob: And I was like, how do they do something more here? And that the example I would give is like in the early nineties, CGI, all of a sudden starts becoming a thing. There's Terminator two there's Jurassic park that use CGI and a really good, interesting way. But the price we had to pay for that was, there were so many bad, like disaster movies and volcano movies.

Rob: And like Matthew Broderick is in a Godzilla movie that is just horrible. And there's, they're using CGI and ways that it's just so, Hey, we can do this. And it was unmotivated. It was over the top and they're doing something that's just like throwing bad CGI out. And w I actually had the thought of. Oh, did CGI ruin movies?

Rob: Did CGI actually like make all these blockbusters just ridiculous. And then in 1999, the matrix comes out and it's using CGI to do something so incredible. It's like, Hey, we're going to use CGI, but CGI, isn't the story. It's just helping us tell a fresh, innovative, interesting story. And I think that's what Spiderman home is doing as well.

Rob: It's like, Hey, yes, we're using nostalgia, but we're actually using nostalgia. We're using these other characters to tell a wholly unique and original story that's our own. And that's fresh and interesting. And 

Andrew: using nostalgia to tell a story that they couldn't without using it, right? Like it's, it's, it's not like a, Hey, we could use any character to do this, but what if we pulled in this cameo?

Andrew: Wouldn't that be. They're telling a story that would be, I would argue impossible to tell without pulling in the characters that they did. 

Rob: Yeah. And, and again, that history them coming in, it just like they leaned into that in a really smart way. And I kept thinking to myself like, oh, I know what's going on there.

Rob: Oh, like it added this whole other layer. To it. And you just talked about that and end game, or it's like, oh, knowing who captain Marvel was added another layer to that scene. But this scene like perfected that where every single scene, it was like, oh, I know who that character is. I knew why it matters.

Rob: And they actually reward like thoughtful viewing. Um, and maybe it's more, so they reward people who consume every single thing that they put out. And I guess you could be cynical about that. Sure. And I, I can't argue with. But it is like, Hey, if you're paying attention to what's going on here, there's a whole nother layer and level to this story.

Rob: And a really interesting way that I'd just never seen anything quite like. 

Andrew: I think the reason I was like a little tentative, I've got a lot of faith in Marvel. I would say it'll probably like three out of four movies. They put out I'm like, that was really great. I really liked it. So I had faith that it wasn't going to be bad, but I feel like there's been so many examples of just crummy fan service in the past several decades specifically recently though, when we've gone all in on this Daljit as a culture, um, I'm kind of curious, like, what are your like top three worst nostalgia or worst, like fan sir?

Andrew: Plays in movies. I 

Rob: probably have more than three. I probably have a list of like 25. Um, but I can, I'm going to give you three that I've kind of been thinking about. One is this pains me to say a little bit, which is star wars, episode one, Phantom menace. Um, I feel like this is when fan service quote unquote was born.

Rob: All of a sudden it was like, Hey, we can use some old IP. We could dust it off. We can. Put lightsabers and John Williams score. And then all of a sudden we have a new movie and I remember seeing star wars opening night. Uh, and I was like, oh, I think this is good. But in the back of my head, there was this voice that was like, this is actually a really bad movie.

Rob: And then I went and saw it again. And I realized like, oh, this thing, that's kind of a dumpster fire. And don't ask me if you love the prequels. Actually you can all debate you the prequels all day long. They're not good. So three is okay, but. Episode one is especially just like, Hey, we're fan service. Hey, that was Obi wan Kenobi.

Rob: Hey, this is Jake Lloyd who's starts Vader when he was a kid, but it doesn't really motivate anything in the story. It's just like, Hey, we're going to bring in all these old characters. Hey, here's Java the hut watching a pod race just because it was just like, there's no real reason. So many things in that movie are happening.

Rob: It's just like, because it star wars, we're supposed to care and I'm like, it's fine, but you're not telling a good or fresh or new or interesting. So Phantom menace is like my masterclass case for 

Andrew: that, to me, the worst offender of Phantom menace. Cause it was on my list as well is the inclusion of R2D2 and C3.

Andrew: Um, like Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, I feel like you can argue of like young anti-cannabis is like, that is the story of how Anna can became Darth Vader and Obi-Wan was his mentor. So like they kind of have to be there. That's like a part of the story, but like, there is no reason for Anaconda to have made C3 PO as a child.

Andrew: There is no reason for R2D2 to have like been along on this adventure the whole time. It's like that to me was like this glaring fan service. This isn't a part of the story. This is just like, Hey, remember these two guys they're here too. And when I rewatched the prequels, I'm always thinking of that. I'm like, why are you two here?

Andrew: Like you're not needed in this story at all. You know, 


Rob: just kind of random characters in it, but it's like, oh, this eight year old is who made C3 PO. And like, that's how you're in the story. And it's, yeah, it's so forced. Um, and I love R2D2 and C three POS. I hate like Downing on them, but it's true.

Rob: It's just, everything is forced. And when I hear fan service, like I'm interesting what the interested, what the definition is for you. When I hear it, what I think of it's like forced, we're going to crowbar this in just so the fans cheer. They're like, oh, that's so-and-so and they're all excited about it, but it doesn't have really anything to do with, for the story.

Rob: There's not a story need. We're just kind of giving a shout out to the. 

Andrew: Right. I mean, and I think that's what it is to one of my, like, I think most disappointing movie experiences ever. But when I was thinking about this question, I realized that I think it's a problem with fan service was a X-Men three.

Andrew: Was it? X-Men the last stand? Yeah, that's what it is. Um, that movie is so disappointing on so many levels, but I feel like the root of it is that they were like, Hey, comic book fans loved the dark Phoenix saga leg. That's such an iconic comic book. AHRQ, we should make Jean Gray go crazy and turn into the dark Phoenix.

Andrew: And the movie just kind of destroys the story that had been built by the previous two movies. It was an iconic comic book. But they like killed off Cyclops, who is one of the leads for like no reason other than to further this new plot line that didn't make sense so much was done in service to comic book IP that they basically undermined the entire movie story.

Andrew: They had been telling to the point where, when they did the like pre-qual reboot thing, they basically just retcon that movie out of existence. 

Rob: Yeah. And I think that's a great definition of like what bad fan surfaces and it's such a buzzy conversation right now. What are we saying when we say fan service and I think it's that it's like, okay, we're just going to throw this in the story for no real reason.

Rob: Or we're actually gonna ruin the story. We've made the, like, have the fans like, oh, they like it. This story matters to them versus like, okay, this is what we can do on the screen. Yeah. 

Andrew: Fans love this thing. So let's find a way to use it versus what does the story need? 

Rob: Exactly. So another one for me was a Terminator, dark fate, which is like the new.

Rob: Terminator movie. 

Andrew: And I have not, I have not seen that movie, but I hear it's not great. 

Rob: It's fine. Like, it was cool to see, you know, Lindell, Hamilton again and Arnold with a beard, but just everything in that movie was like, crowbarred in like the whole point of Terminator is he's this robot that's replicated over and over again.

Rob: At least that's what we learned in Terminator two. And then all of a sudden they had to do all this stuff to make it make sense that terminators there. Well, there's actually a Cyberdyne update that made it toward terminators can age and grow beards. And there's just like all this explanation of like, why it made sense for Arnold to be there.

Rob: And I was just like, oh man, you're having to work so hard for that. That it's just like, now it does not buy in the story at all. It doesn't work. Right. So that's another one for me. What else do you got? 

Andrew: I've got a star Trek into darkness. Ooh. Which overall I don't fully hate, but I have not seen the wrath of Khan, which is probably a huge hit on my like nerd and movie lover card.

Andrew: But I remember watching it first time in the, in the theaters where it gets to the point where Benedict Cumberbatch reveals that he is Khan when he. In captivity and the way that he says the line is he was like, my name is God. And he doesn't so like dramatically. And it's like, I, who is that? I don't, I don't care.

Andrew: Like he was like speaking so directly to the audience of like, here is the twist drum roll that it kind of like almost took me out to be out of the movie for a while. Um, not just, not just for a moment. Um, cause it was. It's kind of, so, so glaring, like, I don't think there's any reason that they couldn't have done that story arc, but the way that they did it and set it up and like the whole press tour there to Cumberbatch was like, I'm playing a character named John Harrison and interviews were like, but are you playing Khan?

Andrew: And he'd be like, no. And then, so then when it was, he was like, yeah, like we, we knew that man, you know, like 

Rob: we were talking about best kept secrets earlier. And I was like, our worst kept secret. And that's another thing that comes to mind of like we knew he's con and that movie did not even cross my mind, but I think that's a great choice for bad.

Rob: Cause I love the JJ Abrams, rebooted star Trek. I think it's incredible. We could do an episode about. But, yeah, man, it's like everything about that movie. And I have seen star Trek to a number of times and a lot of, even the plot points and beat points and that sort of stuff. They're just rehashing star Trek too, in a way that just felt like cheap.

Rob: And we have nothing interesting to say here. We're just going to give you an updated movie you've already seen, right? It was, 

Andrew: I heard an interview once where they said to like, everyone expects us to do con like that's the obvious thing to do. So let's just do it and get it out of the way so that then we can tell other stories we're interested in without the con thing, be hanging over our heads the whole time, which I feel like it's just a horrible reason to 


Rob: that's bad.

Rob: Yeah. And part of the problem here is fans have become so powerful. Their voice is powerful with social media and read it and everything else it's like fans voices matter more than ever. Fans voices are tied to dollars. So studio heads are listening to them, but it's like, man directors, if you're listening to me, if you own a studio, let me tell you this.

Rob: Here's some advice. Give us what we need, not what we want. Don't make the movies that we need to see that are helpful and interesting and new and fresh. Not just like, Hey, we want another cheap plane. 

Andrew: And I think there's a really interesting line that movie makers have to walk between like fan service and then making a great story.

Andrew: Because I think when you swing to the other side of like, Hey, what does the story need to do? What's the best version of this story that might not be with the fans expect you'll get a movie like the last Jedi, which to be clear, I love and we'll stand on a hill and die for that movie. I think. But it has completely split fans where some people will stand on a hill and tell you why it ruined the star wars franchise, where no one is doing that with.

Andrew: Spider-Man no way home. Right? So the idea of marrying fan service, marrying what fans want in a way that maybe they don't expect, or in a way that tells a story that is. Wonderful. I think is a really interesting zone to hit because you don't want to make a movie that fans hate. That's not the point of a movie, right?

Andrew: Like you want to make something people love. That's why I thought this would be a good 

Rob: episode is because fan service is so easy to do. There's lots of pressure, but it's easy to like force in there and it's hard to pull off. Well, and like we said, there's so many examples of like this being done poorly.

Rob: There's very few examples of like, this has been done really well. One example that I did have it being done well also with. The Mandalorian, uh, this is spoiler for Mandalorian. Uh, if somehow you missed this, but like end of season two, Luke Skywalker actually comes in and there's this Luke Skywalker cameo, but it just, it was so like refreshing and surprising and kind of out of nowhere and the way that it used technology.

Rob: Um, and, and, you know, he was going off, he was a Jedi and he was going after the baby Yoda. Um, and it just all worked for me. And I was like, oh, that's a really kind of cool. Interesting cameo. So I thought that was actually a really good use of family. I agree. And 

Andrew: I think one of the reasons that it work is the entire arc of that season was the Mandalorian has to return grow goo to the Jedi.

Andrew: So Luke showing up, isn't like a here check out this fun cameo. It literally is the, maybe the most compelling end to the story that they were talented. It's not some weird left field twist. I just want 

Rob: to give you a shout out for saying. My kids get so mad at me when I say baby Yoda, they're like dad, it's

Rob: And I'm like, to me, it'll always be baby Yoda. So good job using, 

Andrew: I feel like I go back and forth because saying baby ODA is so much more adorable, but like, yeah, his name is , but he going to do so my last example of answer is, and I actually really don't like, and this is, this is going to, like, people are going to come after me on Twitter.

Andrew: I'm not really on Twitter, but people would definitely ask me for. Stan Lee cameos. Ooh. Um, I think the Stan Lee cameo in iron man where he's like playing Hugh Hefner, I think that's fun because Tony Sark is still like a super Playboy kind of guy. So him like going into a party walking past you Hafner who is played by Stanley, who looks like you have no, right.

Andrew: Like, like great use of a camera. But then the force need to put Stanley and every MCU movie for the next 20 movies. And I know he's like the godfather of comics. Like it's like every time he would show up, I'd be like, I would start rolling my eyes after awhile, like pretty soon. And I feel that way, especially on rewatch it every time that his kind of face pops up, I'm kind of like, Ugh, like this, isn't a part of the story.

Andrew: This is just like winking at me. And I don't need you to keep going. 

Rob: You like Stanley mob is going to come after you so hard for saying that like, yeah. 

Andrew: I just, I don't think it serves the story. It's only fan service and field service and people like, so that's fine, but it's only fan service. And at this point I feel like the jokes played out.

Rob: I would describe myself as a Stanley cameo agnostic. Like I'm, it doesn't really do it for me, but I'm also fine with it and I'm fine with it because it's, it is that it's a cameo. It's not going to ruin the movie. It's not going to ruin the story. A quick 32nd thing for woo. There's the cheer in the theater every time.

Rob: And we move on and it does play better in the movie theater than it does, you know, at home. So, yeah, for sure. But Andrew, what I want to know, so we've talked around Spider-Man but let's really talk about it. How did you feel watching this movie? Like what were you feeling when you were watching it? So when 

Andrew: I went into this movie, I purposefully as much as I could, did not watch the trailer.

Andrew: Um, when, when the, when the trailer came out, I think it became like the most watched trailer on YouTube within like 24 hours or something. So I proceeded, it went in with as little expectation for what the plot of the movie would be as possible. And so sort of from the drop, I was really surprised by what the story was of Peter Parker, trying to deal with the fallout, to his friends' personal lives of him being Spider-Man.

Andrew: Which I feel like I was just kind of on this ride and really enjoying it, um, all the way up until the other franchise men show up. And then it took this wonderful pivot into an emotional, how do you heal from trauma storyline that I a hundred percent didn't expect and was just like in 

Rob: love with, I think that's what was so surprising to me was how emotional it was.

Rob: I expected. It's going to have awesome action. There's going to be some epic scenes. There's going to be some great one-liners, but how invested I was in the characters was pretty incredible. And I think we'll get more into it, but part of it for me, I think. How I felt watching it was, it was so great to being a movie theater, opening night, packed out, people are laughing, they're crying.

Rob: Like you saw it opening night. I saw it opening 

Andrew: night. I saw it opening night, too. It was an amazing experience and it's electric. 

Rob: Right? And so my daughter is super into MCU. She loves it. And so she's like, dad, we're getting tickets. So she literally woke me up on midnight. The day the tickets went on sale to make sure.

Rob: November 29th. It was cyber Monday. So we went and we bought tickets right on that day at midnight. And then we saw it opening night, dude. And it was for me with pandemic, with not seeing movies in the theater for a long time. And then when theaters finally open up, back up, it's like, you are one other person in a movie theater.

Rob: It's like our movie theater is dead and there's nothing like the crowd that's so. That's so into it, that's cheering, that's laughing. You can hear the sobs in the room. You can feel it like just the electricity in that room. Seeing it for me is what was such a part of it. Not just the story itself, but that maybe it's something that will save or at least give movie theaters a chance for going forward.

Rob: Yes, 

Andrew: yes. To everything, everything that you just said. Um, I remember when, uh, Matt Murdock walked in in the first few scenes, you know, stare devil comes in and the whole room like explode. Like I started clapping because I love those shows and was pretty sure that like Daredevil was done because the Netflix contract was over.

Andrew: So to see Charlie Cox walk in as Matt Murdoch, I was like, I love this. And yeah, that was just a cameo that kind of served the story. And wasn't totally nothing. But like it did exactly what needed to do didn't overstay. Its welcome again. That took me into this w wonderful ride. 

Rob: So, so what I'm hearing you say is you're cool with some cameos, just not old men cameos, is that correct?

Andrew: I'm okay with cameos that overstay their welcome. Like I said, I thought the kids sanely cameo was great. The first time I made it the second time, but the 18th time I just was kind of. Okay. Okay. 

Rob: No, but I'm with you even that moment. I was just, actually, that was one of the first big cheer moments in the movie.

Rob: And then I was like, oh yeah, I'm here. I'm here with all the fans. Uh, everyone's in their Spider-Man costumes, everyone. It's just like, Hey, let's let our freak flag fly. He loves Spiderman. Here we go. And it was just electric. And I think that's part of what the legacy of this movie is, is the first movie that kind of breaks through in a post pandemic world and who, who really knows what it's going to be like a year from now five years from now.

Rob: Like I'm super curious. I hope people go and see more than just Marvel movies. Like there's so many great movies being made. That's part of the reason we're doing this podcast. Go out see movies, but there is nothing like opening night in a crowded theater. And for me that's a big part of the legacy of what this experience was.

Rob: Absolutely. Okay. So next question that I have, what's your most meaningful scene? What's that scene that really stuck out to you and grabbed you? Oh, jumping into 

Andrew: jumping into categories. So I think there are two for me. And I think normally when I answered this question, I try to. A meaningful scene. That's maybe like, not the most obvious one, right?

Andrew: Like what was meaningful? Seem to me that might not have been the, like, maybe most meaningful scene of the movie, but I don't think there's any way around it in this movie. And that's the scene where the two legacy Spiderman show up and talk with Tom Holland. Spider-Man on the roof after handmade. Yes.

Andrew: There's just no way around how incredibly meaningful that scene is. And that's the scene that puts the stamp on this is what this movie is, and this is how we're going to tell an incredible story with these characters, um, is that you're seeing to totally one of 

Rob: them, like I wrote a couple of them down the list, but that's the one that you have to talk about.

Rob: And I think when we talk about the meaning of the. I think a sub layer on this kind of the meta thing is what does it mean to play Spiderman? What does it mean to have that expectation? You know, there's this movie that came out last year called Val, and it was about Val Kilmer actually like his life and his story.

Rob: And one of the things in there was like him playing Batman and just like what it meant to him to play Batman and being the legacy. And that's part of it. And everywhere he goes, even still he's recognized as Batman. And so I was actually thinking about that movie as these three guys are up there. This is a unique fraternity of three guys who were just Spiderman and they know what it means, and they knew what it feels like.

Rob: And it took me out of the movie a little bit and a good way where I was like, this is Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield. And tell me Maguire. And what were they talking about on set between takes of like all the crazy fans that have followed them and the craziest stuff that's like, they have this like fraternity that they're the only three people in the world who truly understood.

Rob: And it just translated on screen to me and a really profound way, not just in that scene, but in a few different scenes, but, but there was this level of like empathy that walked me in. 

Andrew: And I think because they started their interaction with that scene. And I want to dive into everything that, that scene did here in a second, but I think I found.

Andrew: The then later more kind of like meta stuff, a little bit more charming where I might've been a little bit more, I roly about it, like when they are prepping for the battle and they're talking about like, Hey, what kind of villains have you fought? You're like, oh, you went to space like, oh, I've never been to space.

Andrew: That to me is like probably what it felt like to them to be on set. Like, Hey, like, do you ever have to like, hang upside down and yada yada, yada is you sort of get those moments where I imagined what it would be like for those actors on set. You actually gave me a little bit of that. 


Rob: of the best jokes in the movie is like you were in the Avengers.

Rob: Is that a band? And then like the other two's vitamin just don't know what the Avengers is. Uh, I just thought that was 

Andrew: such a great joke. Yeah. But getting back to that scene. All right. So like when they're all on the, all on the roof and they come to talk to, um, Tom Hollins, Andrew Garfield goes to say something like, Hey, like we know how you feel.

Andrew: And Tom Hahn says like, don't like, don't, you dare tell me, you know, how I'm feeling right now, which is something I think we've all felt when somebody tries to come and comfort us when something horrible has happened. And it's something that. I've been told by counselors and stuff don't ever say that don't ever tell someone, you know, how they feel, because even if you may be kind of do like, it's the worst thing for someone because they feel so alone.

Andrew: So isolated, but what this movie did is they instantly turned it and it was almost this idea of what if an older version of you could come and talk you through the hardest moment of your life. I love that. Uh, what, what would that conversation be? Because you legitimately could say, I know how you feel.

Andrew: And though they had different stories and different experiences. That's what that moment felt like. To me, it was like the comfort of being able to talk to an older, wiser you is something that is just like such an emotional experience to like, just sit and watch these really incredible actors kind of go through, you know?

Rob: Well, and what's so interesting about it is this is where everything we've been talking about really pays off. Like we know the scene where at both of their uncle Ben died for each one of those characters. Like if you know that story, we know those scenes, you know, how it wrecked them. And so when they look and I thought they both did an incredible job, but when they look and say, no, we do know how you feel as an audience member.

Rob: We're kind of adding something in there of like, no, you don't. What it did to Toby McGuire. When his uncle died, you didn't know what it did to Andrew Garfield. You don't know how it wrecked them. Like we know their pain. And so them trying to say, no, we understand, like I felt like I was there. I was like Tom hall.

Rob: And you need to listen to Toby McGuire. Like he knows what he's talking about. And that, and I was, I was thinking, this is so interesting. I've never been in a movie like that. We're literally like an emotional scene from a movie that was made 20 years ago is being brought right into this moment. And it's not quite as sequel and just all the layers of that as like, I've never seen anything quite like, 

Andrew: right.

Andrew: And I think it had to do with the fact of like, it's not a sequel, it's like different versions of the same person. Right. So it's almost more intimate conversation than like a father talking to. Right of like, well, when I was your age, this happened to me. So I kind of know what you're going through, right?

Andrew: Yep. It's like an older version of me. It's different Peter Parker's at different phases of their life with different sort of versions of wisdom. Like Toby Maguire is able to give wisdom to Andrew Garfield at some point. And like, you can see Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man processing certain things still.

Andrew: He's kind of like in the middle of his journey, just like really, really smart. Beyond fan service. It's maybe the only great way to tell this kind of. 

Rob: And I think that's what was so surprising to me when I first saw it, I thought, oh, this is going to be a movie and we're going to get to the final battle and he's going to be about to lose.

Rob: And then at that moment, when he's about to lose, that's when the other guys are going to come out and they're all gonna team up and they're going to beat the villain. And that's what this movie is going to be like. That's, that's what I assumed what's going to happen. Someone they spend all this time, like just hanging out.

Rob: And the, the other great joke in the movie is like, when Andrew Garfield. Did you bring your Spiderman outfit? Are you just going to dress up like a middle-aged youth pastor? I was just like, I felt so seen in that moment. I was like, yeah, 

Andrew: maybe the best joke into the movie 

Rob: and the theater roared at that joke.

Rob: It was like people were all in on it. Oh, they're really letting this marinate, this interaction between the guys and like, again, the first half is really good. It's engaging, but that's, I mean, even that scene, when we first meet Andrew Garfield and he's there and he walks through the portal and you know, she's throwing the roles and him, as he's trying to like climb up on it, it's just like the way they introduce them slowly and take their time and then let him go and find him on.

Rob: You know, high rise up there. All of that I agree is just such a nice layer for me. Like my most meaningful scene is the moment that really got me out of nowhere is actually when he goes and Rex Hughes, Zendaya, when he rescues MJ, like, and you, again, you know, the backstory of like, oh, he actually let you know, his other girlfriend died and he couldn't rescue her.

Rob: Right. And so then when he goes and gets to redeem that moment, that was again, like something that I've ever seen where I'm like, oh, You're redeeming a moment from a movie before. And this is not a SQL, but it sort of is a SQL. And anyway, just that layering and right. Ultimately like he goes and he saves her and he brings her down and I, I, I can feel the tears, like I can feel like, oh, wow, this is really, really powerful for him to be able to find redemption in another universe or get a second chance at this thing that went so wrong.

Rob: I 

Andrew: loved like, loved that moment. As soon as like MJ falls off the tower, like they use the same shot, like the same lens. If you put the two shots of Emma Stone falling as when Stacy, when Andrew Garfield doesn't save her and the shot of Zendaya, they're pretty much mirror images. They're in the same positions in everything.

Andrew: So they're using visual language. Match that up for the viewer. And then I love how, how controlled the screenwriters are and the director of this, of like, not overplaying their hand. Like he saves her, he says, are you okay? And then he gets super emotional and she says, are you okay? And he says like, yes.

Andrew: And you can see what's going on. And then they leave it. Like that's yeah, that's it. He doesn't like tell her, oh, I had a girlfriend, yada, yada, yada. The same thing happened to her. Right? Like they don't bring the audience along. They kind of expect you to have. And by leaving it that way and like making you lean into what you already know and just giving you enough, it makes it so much richer, I 

Rob: think.

Rob: Yeah. And if you don't know, it's fine, then he saved her and that's great. But if, you know, you know, right. And so if you know what that means to him, then all of a sudden it has such a high level of power. 

Andrew: The other moment that I thought was like, similar to that, where if, you know, you know, and if not like it, doesn't kind of.

Andrew: Was when and big spoiler here. Um, when, uh, aunt may dies, when you see the glider coming up on its own, it instantly sends you back to how, um, bring goblin dies and Spider-Man wine with Toby Maguire. So like as an audience, again, you're ahead of the game. It's a flashback to a different franchise, but they're using the same visual imagery where you're like, oh my gosh.

Andrew: And mascot. Yep. And when it clips or you go, yep, it's over. And then she gets up and she seems to be okay and you go, oh, and you rethink it. But then as soon as she says, great power comes, great responsibility. You go, oh no, she's going to die. They use both of those things to take you on this extra emotional journey in that scene.

Andrew: It's that keeps you slightly ahead of the characters. Um, and I, I thought that was. Super brilliant. Yeah. 

Rob: It's such a powerful moment. I think again, that's just made this movie feel like a roller coaster was like, you think, you know where it's going and it zags and just another way. And then it pays that Zack off really, really well.

Rob: Um, okay. So question for you. Is this one, a Tom Holland? Two and Andrew Garfield movie or three, a Toby Maguire movie, if you have to peg gun to your head, whose movie is this? 

Andrew: So I think, I think it's obviously a Tom Holland movie. It is, it is his movie from front to back, but I think that Andrew Garfield shows up to.

Andrew: Like he, he brings it and is given this unprecedented chance to redeem a canceled franchise. Yeah. Like his, his franchise was not played out. It ended on a cliffhanger and then he got canceled and reboot it and he shows up like ready to be his Peter Parker and give that character a conclusion. 

Rob: And I feel like he's the big winner out of this movie, everyone, like.

Rob: Tom Holland before he was such adored an end-run everyone like Andrew Garfield, but so many people post this movie, like some of the online chatter, the articles that I've read are like this, Andrew Garfield performance is amazing and he's throwing like 99 miles per hour. Every single time he's out there.

Rob: Every like his eyes are getting teary and he's telling these incredible jokes and he's like, so, so powerful. But for me actually, I wouldn't say, um, this is his movie, but I thought Toby Maguire actually did great. And when Toby Maguire got out there and was onscreen, I was like, oh man, can tell me, McGuire, still act like, does he still have it?

Rob: I felt like a nervous parent where I was like, oh man, are these young guys just going to like, eat his lunch? And he's going to be totally lost. I feel like the Toby McGuire from the Sam Raimi movie. I was back here. I felt like, oh, this is who he was only 20 years later. He was still very much that character.

Rob: He still like had these, you know, things. And I just thought seeing him on screen and the way he was. And he, he did have this older brother vibe and he had empathy and he had caring even in that final scene when Andrew Garfield is there and he's like totally hurting. Tobi played that so well. And so I feel like all the love is going to Tom Holland.

Rob: All the love is going to Andrew Garfield, but Toby Maguire actually really did an incredible job 

Andrew: as well. I think he centers the emotional mentorship of Tom Holland's Spider-Man because I think it's so interesting where they put them in their journey. Like as, as the screenwriters. So it feels like Andrew Garfield is still figuring it out, right?

Andrew: Like, um, he's talking to Toby McGuire and you know, like, Hey, like, do you have a girl or anything? And he's like, no, I don't really have time for anything. That's not Spiderman stuff right now. You can tell he's still processing each. He's talked about like how he quit pulling his punches. Right. That he's like dealing with the rage and he's on the other side of it.

Andrew: He's not centered. He's not settled. He still has work to do. Right. He's kind of like mid thirties. Spider-Man whereas you get the sense that like Toby McGuire Spiderman is like, he seen enough of life now that he knows what's important. Right. He figured out how to make things work with M J and he's not like, oh yeah, we fixed it.

Andrew: And like, we lived happily ever after he it's like, it took a while. We found each other is how they say it. Yep. So you have this stages of what I feel like is like life, right? Of like how you deal with your own stuff as you, as you grow up and then the wisdom you get with age. And even if like it didn't all work out perfectly, you go, okay.

Andrew: Like I know what's important. Um, bro, 

Rob: I think that's such a great analogy of what it is because you really do get Tom hall. Really young idealistic, but making a mess of everything, you get Andrew Garfield who's frankly like broken you're, like Spider-Man needs therapy. Like every time he's on the screen, you're just like, I'm feeling for this guy.

Rob: And then you get a Toby McGuire. Who's like, okay. Yes. I've seen some really hard things. Yes. I've been through some really hard things, but I'm going to be okay. And you guys will be okay too. And that three levels of those guys in different places, again, just that's what made this movie. Okay. So what about, are there any other characters other than Spider-Man?

Rob: I said spider men, any other than the, our three spider men really stuck out to you? Anyone else who stuck out? 

Andrew: I was blown away by Zendaya in this movie. I thought her performance and her like the MJ Peter Parker relationship in this was maybe my favorites of any of the spider man's relationships in any.

Andrew: I agree. And the thing that I love that they did about this Spider-Man franchise is because they knew that they didn't need to origin story Spiderman because we've seen it enough. They really took their time building to certain things and things that we got in the first movie with Tobey, Maguire, great power comes great responsibility.

Andrew: Getting together with MJ, leaving MJ all happens in Toby Maguire, his first movie, they save all of that really until this movie for Tom Holland and with the. The MJ relationship. I felt like it gave it such a wonderful chance to like marinate and not feel like high school puppy, dog love, which is what I normally feel like about these kinds of characters.

Andrew: Like I truly honestly believed that they were in love with each other because I've watched them grow from being acquaintances to friends that were just kind of flirting to where they are. And so at the end, when he chooses to leave her for her own good, I almost started crying, which I definitely don't in a Toby McGuire one.

Andrew: I was like, what are you doing, man? That's dumb. Stay with MJ. But in this one, it like, you've seen so much of their relationship and their growth. And I think India acts so well in this movie. She's so authentic with him that it was really, really powerful to 

Rob: me. That's a great answer. My answer is. Green goblin.

Rob: What played by William Defoe? We've talked so much about Spiderman and all the different Spiderman, but we haven't talked much about the villains and this podcast, and we need to give them some love because both Alfred Molina, who I think is great. And Jamie Fox is a little underused, but William Defoe, one thing that's so interesting is one of the big criticisms.

Rob: About the original Spider-Man as you have this Oscar winner, incredible all-time actor, and then you put them in a power ranger suit for the whole movie. And so William Defoe never really gets to cook. He never really gets to, to the scenery. And then in this movie, what was so interesting is very early on there's this shot of like the green goblin mask laying right by the dumpster.

Rob: And it's just like, that's going to stay with. Because we are going to see William Defoe's face. And man, he gives his all, every time he's on there, he is just like full villain. He's just going for it. And I just, it was so fun to see him at that level. I think if there is a criticism that I do have about many Marvel movies, like.

Rob: They're villains are not that memorable. Like, yes, there's Thanos and end game and infinity war, but you go through the other movies and I'd say name five Marvel villains, and you'd have to really think deeply about it. You're like, ah, I'm not, 

Andrew: I'm not sure it'd be like ski, Killmonger. Yeah. They're ones.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Rob: And so to really think, and then, but as like this William Defoe is giving a villain performance and he's so evil and he's so nasty. And just watching him go in that sort of way was so good. And so even like, as an actor, him being able to redeem his own story and his own narrative with that character, I thought he was my other most meaningful character.

Andrew: I think the screenwriters are like the unsung heroes of this movie for sure. Because like them sitting in a room had to have been like, who's the best Spider-Man villain in any franchise of all time. Right. Right. And the, I mean, the answer is. Willem Defoe. Right? And so to make him the one who ends up being the ultimate big, bad of this movie, if it had been me, I would have been like, oh no, we need like a new, a new bad guy to be the big, bad that's like from, from Tom Holland universe.

Andrew: But like, when you look at this menagerie of spider villains, like who's the ultimate, Spider-Man bad guy. It's Willem Defoe. Like he's so good. 

Rob: Well, and they even knew something really interesting with Alfred Molina, who I also think is great in this movie where he gets to be a little bit of the hero.

Rob: He's actually like if you watched that. Part of the reason it turns is because he's the one who like, has a moment of empathy. And even that's true to his character, which his character was, he's a good guy who kind of got controlled by this octopus robot brain. Like, I can't explain the science behind it, but you know, deep down he's this, he's this good guy and in that really resonated through as well.

Rob: And so yeah, those guys and those layers were really fun. 

Andrew: Big big question though. What do you think this movie is trying to say? If you had like an argument, what would it be? 

Rob: I think all the themes that we've talked about are in here, but I think the big closing thing that it's trying to say is there is a cost to being a hero and that cost bleeds, like not just you, but it affects other.

Rob: And, and really, I think what's interesting is it's not really about being a hero. I think this movie is actually about celebrity. They spend, they give a lot of time to Jamison's character and his like reality show, or I don't know what Fox newsy sort of show of like who is Spider-Man and that sort of stuff like that.

Rob: Yeah. And they keep cutting back to that actually quite a bit during the movie. And I think this movie is about like, okay, if you're doing something great, it actually affects other people. And so the heroic thing sometimes is to distance yourself from that. And so I thought that like meaningful scene that really tied that all together was what you referenced earlier, which is when he goes back to the donut shop and he's there.

Rob: He sees her and he's like, I'm going to say something to you. And then he promises her. He's like, I'm going to go find you and I'll tell you everything. And then your memory will come back. And then he has that moment where he finds her and you can tell it's right on the tip of his tongue. He wants to tell her, and then he just says, thanks for the coffee and leaves and sees that they're going off to college.

Rob: And on the way home from the theater, my daughter was so upset. She's like he lied to her. Why did he not tell her that said that he straight up lied to her and she did not understand. And I said, honey, sometimes when you're trying to protect someone, you have to serve them over serving yourself. And that's what being a hero.

Rob: And that to me, that's the heroic moment that they're really trying to do is like he w he wants to have his cake and eat it too, right early on in the movie. He's like, Hey, I want them to forget me, but not aunt may and not this, not that, you know, and he goes into all of it, and it's almost even a little hokey the way that seems there, but then he pays it off, which is like, I can't have my cake and eat it too.

Rob: There's a reason that they're safe and okay right now. And I can't bring them back into this because that may hurt them again. So their safety is more important than my happiness and him coming to that conclusion, I think is like, ultimately like what this story is about 

Andrew: the same conclusion that Toby McGuire reaches at the end of the Spider-Man one, he gets together with MJ she's dream girl, but at the Osborne funeral, he's like, Hey, like we have to break up.

Andrew: It's the same thing of like people who are close to me are going to get. But the fact that it's slow, brewed in this one, up to this moment. And even the writing of it is he's about to tell her and she pushes her hair back and he sees the bandaid on her forehead from where she got hurt during the battle.

Andrew: He mentioned that engine and she goes, you know what? It doesn't really hurt anymore. And that's the line that makes him put the thing in his pocket. And, and Lynn Lee, the idea of like, we love each other, but her being around me actually hurts her and the distance, it doesn't hurt any. That was the best version of that scene.

Andrew: We've seen that scene before. We've seen that play out with other heroes being like, oh, people around me get hurt. I have to distance myself. And that I think paired with the scene where he says, you're, you're going to forget me. And she's like begging him. Like, I don't want that. And he says, it's the only way to me.

Andrew: That's like her star performance in the movie is that scene right there when she's like distraught that she is going to forget him. And I just like, I bought it and then to see him have to make that choice knowing he's breaking the promise. It's it's tremendous. Yeah. The 

Rob: stakes are so clear there and I agree.

Rob: The end of dark night, there's kind of the thing of like, I've got to be like, no one can know about me. Like he kind of has to keep wearing the mask or even more famously Superman too. Like, I don't know if you've ever seen it, but it has this kind of great ending where like, he's there, he's like a mere mortal and then he becomes Superman again.

Rob: And Lois lane has to forget that. It gives her this magical kiss and she forgets him. Um, but it kind of a racist everything else. And then it like resets things and it's always like, okay, that's cool. And that's cute. And like Spiderman, no way home is aware of all those other movies. And they're like, we're going to do this scene in a way that you've never seen it before.

Rob: And again, it just leans back on too, because there are so many other layers of so many other movies and time we've spent with them. It's actually, we're being a sequel is a string. Versus being a SQL as a weakness and so much of this movie, 

Andrew: it's almost as though the whole movie is an argument for what the line with great power comes.

Andrew: Great responsibility actually means. Um, that's great. That's like the almost cliched, but like me modified version of Spider-Man now. Right? Look I, yeah, we know there's even like a joke about it in the animated, into the spider verse. Like someone tries to say it and we'll get a Spider-Man is like, don't you dare don't you say it?

Andrew: Yeah. Um, but like the placement of it within this franchise, at the tail end of these other franchises within this story of. Is it more important to help the villains and the villains killed the woman who asked me to do it, who I love the cost of that and the cost of that responsibility of doing the right thing.

Andrew: I think you're right. It really is a movie about the cost of doing the right thing. 

Rob: It just lands the plane on it, so well, okay. I have one more category bonus category. We're adding this to the meaning of the movie. Yep. So here's our bonus category, which is, if you like, Spider-Man no way home, you might also have.

Rob: My buddy Wesley said, Hey, you should add that category. Kind of like when you're in the bookstore and there's a, Hey, if you like this author, you might also like, this is our version of that. If he likes, Spider-Man no way home, you might also like, and I'm not going to pick any MCU movies for this. I'm actually going to pick Luke.

Rob: Which is, uh, another Ryan Johnson movie. He directed last Jedi, but this, this movie in 2012 called Looper, it's got Joseph Gordon Levitt. It's got Bruce Willis and it's about all the, this kind of multicolored blunt. It's got Emily 

Andrew: blunt, he'll be sleeping. And Emily blunt, she gets a great performance 

Rob: in this movie.

Rob: She's she's awesome. And, and just kind of there's, there's a bit of a multi-verse, but also. Reliving things and like different universes coming together and time travel. And it's just very much like, um, this metaphysical, like, okay, how your past, uh, influences your future and how your food herself is at war with your past self.

Rob: And it doesn't decipher my way that I can't even explain this plot at super complicated, but if you have not seen Looper, I think it's on Netflix right now. And if you have not seen it, it is a great scifi. If you 

Andrew: love sort of the coming of age story of Spider-Man in this one of like right at the end of high school, trying to figure out, like, how do I be an adult and a grownup?

Andrew: What does that mean? There's this movie, uh, it's an early miles teller movie called the spectacular now. Where he plays a popular high school kid. Who's actually like an alcoholic. Um, who's trying to figure out who he wants to be, what that means and, uh, is dealing with parental issues, dad issues, and then also like falling in love.

Andrew: And I think there are similar, um, depth of character in the two coming of age story. So if you liked that romantic and growing up element of a Spider-Man knowing him, I would say you would like spectacular now. I'm never 

Rob: seen spectacular. Now I'm putting it on my list. I love miles teller. And so that sounds awesome.

Rob: So Looper and spectacular now, or if you like Spiderman home, you might also like Andrew. Good job. 

Andrew: Hey, thanks. You know, watching one of the coolest movies of the last 12 months mixed 

Rob: for a fun podcast. And we would love to hear what you think. We actually have a meaning of the movie Facebook page, and we have the Facebook group as well.

Rob: And so if you want to jump on that group, tell us what movies you like. Tell us what you thought about the podcast. Uh, give us ideas for future episodes. Look us up on Facebook. I'll put that page in the show notes, otherwise like subscribe and we will see you next time on the meaning of the movie. .

Read Full Transcript
Get notified of new episodes
Share this episode