With the arrival of the obscenely anticipated trailer for Spider-man: No Way Home, we are hit with another dose of Marvel magic, but I can't help feeling it may have lost it's buzz. When I watched the trailer I had no strong feelings about the film at all. Possibly because it didn't reveal anything that hadn't been leaked for even the most casual Twitter user weeks ago - other than a firmer idea of the plot that holds this Into The Spiderverse cash-in together. Furthermore, as I was contemplating this, a number of people commented that it's going to be another hollow event movie with nothing dragging us back for a rewatch. I know I felt this way about the previous MCU Spidey films, despite being a lifelong Spidey fan. Far From Home I actively avoid, but Homecoming I remember as a really good film that got Spidey right, but still I have not returned to it after the initial viewing. Why? Of greater concern is that it's not just Spider-man. It's all of Marvel and several other comic book movies too. I only ever watch the final battle of Endgame and I mostly skip between action scenes of Infinity War on rewatch, which is strange because my ND brain normally won't let me watch something without viewing every scene fully and undisturbed. So, on some subconscious level I am aware of this change. Before it affects how I enjoy movies I hope to find what it is that is missing from the Marvel movies.

Whatever magic it is that makes MCU movies spectacles and not films, I know it when I see it. When I watch Sam Raimi's Spider-man - another film that I feel got Spidey right - I can feel what is missing from the MCU even if I can't define it. There's something about the impact of the music, the choices gone into costume design, the character moments that aren't just quips. Could it be the touch of the auteur? Sam Raimi is a very distinctive director, but he doesn't let his style get in the way of what the story needs to do. He only enhances it. Marvel movies are notoriously cookie cutter productions that remove artistic control of the directors and this has caused problems in the past. Most famously, Edgar Wright, who worked on an Ant-Man movie for years, walked out of the MCU production because they wouldn't accommodate his creative differences. Their loss. Edgar Wright is a genius. By comparison MCU movies feel like suggestions spewed out by an AI that was forced to watch commercials for Saturday morning cartoons.

Let's breakdown these elements with a closer comparison. Marvel has long been criticized for it's dull color grading, the unremarkable music scores and the generic third act CGI battles. The last vigil of artistry then remains in the writing. Although Homecoming tries to give us an emotional struggle of a young hero trying to prove himself in the big leagues, it still feels superficial. Only the moments when Peter discovers his enemy's identity and when he is trapped under the collapsed building elicit any emotional response in the viewer and these are mostly down to the acting. By comparison Spider-man is a web swing of emotions. The tragedy of Uncle Ben's death (which I'm allowing since it was the first movie version of it), the reveal of the murderer, the thrill of becoming Spider-man, beating the bully and impressing the girl, the house fire, the bridge scene, the final fight. The latter of which is not a big CGI fight but a very close up and brutal exchange of fists, webbing and pumpkin bombs. Sure, some of this will have been due to technical limitations but Raimi has always been a fan of practical effects. They have more weight, give a realistic sense of the scene and just look better. So I doubt he would change much even if it were made today.

As if we need look any further, what was one of the most celebrated scenes in Far From Home? The return of the Raimi casted J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in the Bugle broadcast. If the biggest cheers for your movie are for the return of a previous star then you are doing something wrong. Not the one to have any shame though, Marvel has doubled down on this in No Way Home by having practically every Spider-man character come back in the multiverse mash up. Soulless cash grab.

Sure, Homecoming had the school boy charm, the scribbled notebook titles, the Ferris Bueller homage, and Michael Keaton eating up the scenery, but it doesn't have the cohesive depth of an artistic vision holding it together, and No Way Home only seems to be turning that up to 11. But let's be honest, the Mouse house isn't going to change and it isn't going anywhere. So I say, just be glad we got what we did and don't forget to support movies that give us the artistic content we so rarely receive nowadays.