Watched in preparation for the new one, but that was just an excuse to revisit this. I know the plot points inside and out. (My wife hadn’t seen this in well over a decade so I think this was helpful for her, though.)

That being said, this is a better movie than anything the MCU has dreamt about. It has actual characters who have real problems and need to learn something

Most importantly, this trilogy — especially this film — deals with the most interesting superhero drama: is it worth it? You have to sacrifice so much to be a hero. You can’t have everything you want. It’s a rejection of Hellenism and hedonism, all for the sake of helping others — even if they hate you for it. 

The MCU films want to have their cake and eat it too: Stark and Co want to live their lives, same as always, but with an extra level of glory on top just for beating up some bad guys that probably wouldn’t exist without them. Captain America is the only character in that whole franchise who recognizes that some sacrifices need to be made if you’re going to live this life. 

This has been my greatest disappointment with the MCU films, but it’s also become so normal for me that I forgot Spider-Man 2 is not that way. So it was a joy to revisit it. Thematically, this just works. 

It works on other levels too. The train sequence is still the best thing ever. Molina is fantastic throughout, and brings an operatic flair to the proceedings. Sam Raimi’s horror leanings lend menace to much of the film. Aunt May is awesome, and her famous speech is flawless (and a great counterpoint to the thematically opposite Willem Dafoe speech in the first film). 

Ultimately, I think this goes down as one of the all-time great sequels, and easily slots in to any self-respecting top 3 list of superhero films. 

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, though, to be clear. Maguire and Dunst are the wet noodles of this trilogy. Sometimes it’s literally like watching dead fish act.

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