There was a reason the first trailer for No Way Home filled every Spiderman fan with enough adrenaline to run a marathon. For those who haven't seen the film, or the trailer for that matter, spoilers will ensue, so please, read at your own risk. For those who have, how good was it!? Watching No Way Home was one of the few times I've not been annoyed when people cheer in the cinema. In the trailer for the film, when Doc Ock's arm smashes on screen, my mind was transported back to the character's phenomenal first appearance in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2. As anyone who saw the recent film can attest, nostalgia for the older Spiderman films plays a hefty role, and luckily for the MCU, there is still a lot of love for the Maguire and Garfield movies, enough to make two hours of nostalgia-bait earn over a billion dollars at the box office.
Of all the live-action Spiderman films before the Tom Holland trilogy, Spider-Man 2 is by far the best one. Fantastic story, a perfect villain, and numerous iconic scenes, this film is the definitive Spider-Man movie for many fans of the web-slinger.
The film wrote the blueprint for all superhero films to come. Standard tropes of the genre like the hero struggling to balance their personal and masked lives saw their roots in this film. Losing powers, sympathetic villains, romantic angst, all of these recurring ideas were first popularised on screen by Spider-Man 2 and few subsequent films have handled them with quite the same level of care and narrative coherence as Spider-Man 2.
The struggle between balancing the life of Spider-Man and Peter Parker is the core of the film. Everything, from his best friend begging him to reveal Spider-Man's identity so he can take revenge on him, to his colleagues and loved ones feeling let down by his erratic behaviour, pushes Peter to the brink. His emotional breakdown is entirely believable, of course the pressure would get to him, and losing his powers due to stress feels far more like a realistic consequence of poor mental health, rather than simply being a convenient plot device. This internal conflict works its way into every beat of the story creating a burning desire within the audience to see this character, with all his struggles, emerge victorious. It's such an investing plot point.
What keeps the film in the pop-culture hall of fame however, has to be its iconic scenes. There are a couple to choose from, but the one that will never fade from memory has to be the train battle. After the best fight between Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man seen on screen, the two land on a speeding train, the villain sabotages it and Peter is left to save the passengers. The tension is phenomenal. Peter Parker has taken so many hits in the film so far; he just recently regained the use of his powers. The audience could genuinely believe that he would fail here too. Stopping a moving train is a task far greater than any we've seen him do before. Watching him rally himself for a final push to keep everyone on board from crashing to their deaths feels inspiring, the obvious intense exertion on his face as he stands at the front of the train and does everything he can to web it to a stop is heart-stopping, and when he succeeds, and the passengers save him in turn, goosebumps are felt all around.
Spider-Man 2's blend of goofiness and drama is a joy to watch, and without it, superhero movies as we know them today would not exist.