Spiderman: Homecoming is opening this weekend to rave reviews, with 95% of “top critics” recommending this new movie about a boy bitten by a radioactive spider (the third iteration in 15 years). This praise comes on the heels of last month’s Wonder Woman movie, which was recommended by 92% of critics. Logan, the R rated movie about an X-Man with steak knives attached to his hands, was recommended by 93% of critics. And last year, it was Captain America: Civil War that received greater approval from critics than Saving Private Ryan.
While there is certainly something to be said for critics analyzing each movie based on what it is trying to achieve (not everything has to be the coming of age story of a gay, black thug), these superhero movies are as recycled as the food at a prison cafeteria. At this point, audiences have seen movies featuring Iron Man, Superman, Batman, Ant-Man, Aquaman and dozens of X-Men. Hollywood would probably spend $100 million producing a Baja Men origin story before realizing they were the guys who sang “Who Let The Dogs Out.”
Superhero movies have become so omnipresent, that when Tom Cruise stars in a Mummy movie, it seems like a fresh take – even though its based on a monster story that is literally thousands of years old. The fact that Tom Cruise doesn’t develop super powers from sitting on a radioactive iPhone charge makes the movie seem like it’s a Stanley Kubrick film.
While critics should judge each piece of art on its own merit, it can also be the responsibility of a critic to look at an entire movement and say, “enough.” Movie reviews used to constantly call action movies “roller coaster rides,” which now makes sense given that each superhero film follows the exact same track. We’ve seen this tale a thousand times before, and it always ends with a super hero vs. super villain “fight” where two CGI cartoons with imaginary powers bash into each other for 30 minutes until the good guy wins (but it doesn’t really end, because every single movie has a “surprise!” post-credit scene).
Some of these comic book films are no doubt great movies – but critics have a duty to say that they are the exact same movie. E.T. was also an amazing movie, but if Hollywood pumped out ten movies a year featuring botanist aliens who form a connection with a boy and his bicycle, it would be irresponsible for critics to implore audiences to go see the 29th iteration. We need more superhero movies like we need annual remakes of the Wizard of Oz each year, where the only difference being Dorothy hails from a different state – “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Delaware anymore.”
Movie critics wasting ink recommending superhero movies is the equivalent of a food critic who reviews each new Dunkin’ Donuts location. “The munchkins at ‘Dunkin’ Donuts – Tucson Municipal Airport’ are a roller coaster pastry that will leave you at the edge of your seat! Not since the ‘Dunkin’ Donuts – Denver Parking Garage’ has fried dough tasted so sweet!”
That’s the reason they call these movies “franchises.” The goal is to make them the same no matter who the protagonist is. The movie hasn’t been released yet, but undoubtedly the new Spiderman will struggle with his ordinary life, develop super powers, get into humorous situations using his powers for mundane tasks,use his super powers for good, then decide not to use his super powers anymore, and ultimately receive a pep talk from Iron Man who will make a few sarcastic quips before giving a stirring motivational speech.
So here is the only Spider Man review you need to read: “Spiderman: Homecoming – If you loved the other five Spider Man movies and still want to pay $18.95 to sit in an air conditioned room, you should find a new hobby.”