Spider-Man has made my world right again
It’s midnight Dec. 18, one day after the premiere of the “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” I found my emotional connection to this experience to be so moving that I had to get home immediately and write it down.
The film was entertaining, but that is irrelevant compared with what actually made the half hour internet quest for an open seat, the 15-mile trek each way on fogged-out rainy I-95 and the orbiting search for a rare parking spot so worth it.
For a few hours, the entire audience fled our divided, pained, stressed-to-the-max, bleak, “new normal” COVID Omicron existence, and felt the laughter, the togetherness, the lighthearted warmth, indeed the fun of what not that long ago we all called “life.”
Have you laughed a real laugh in the last two years? Have you sat on your couch in your robe or jammies with a beverage and not worried about what you read, saw, heard or were told was happening, will happen or just happened? Have you managed to go a day without hearing something you could not believe was happening in your family, your town, our country or our world? Have you gone a week without your eyes aching from rolling back so far in your head because of things you learned that week? Life after 2019 has been a spiral of divisive depressing and profoundly negative news pervading our world in a way none of us has ever known. No jaundiced pejorative, no pessimistic forecast of doom (whether true or false) is left untexted, untweeted, unreported, unsaid. We all feel it. We all know it. Despite how silly it seems, a quirky imageintense comic book story can transport you far from our tortured today to a unified, calm, wonderful, pre-COVID, pre-political, pre-divided world.
I was overwhelmed to the point of tears welling in my eyes twice. This movie touches that pit-of-your-stomach yearning for a better day. There’s a “Crying Game” moment in this movie. When this moment came, the reaction in the theater was overwhelming. People stood up and cheered. Real, honest-to-goodness happy-to-be-alive cheers. Happy shock, surprise of surprises and amazement. Suddenly, smiles, warmth, happiness and joy hidden for two years by COVID masks broke free!
Considering politics as well as COVID, it’s actually six long years our fraternity, our unity, our country, our families, our friends and coworkers have been on edge, ready to snap separated and divided like never before. But boom! All that was erased like a Marvel villain finger-snap, by a plot point in this comic book movie. When time is upended is two major scenes, the audience (like the plot) travels to the past. I could feel our modern dramas disappear. In those moments, everyone in the theater just gets so happy. We were all friends again, and with old friends again. Even wearing masks we could see smiles. Eyes wide, screams of joy, we were one country, one politic, one humanity again.
The movie was made by two competing studios, and the political metaphor of them putting their differences aside for the betterment of the greater endeavor was not lost on the audience. This movie is designed around the plot of finding a common ground, of working together, of unification not for the win, but for the philosophical sake. Brotherhood and oneness because it’s right, not just beneficial.
This film is the ultimate breaker of the fourth wall: It asks its characters to overcome the travesty of the moment by banding together and remembering there is a greater good that will bring everyone a better life, then it did exactly that to us, the audience. Who would imagine that a film could do what no politician, no news company, no radio talk show host, no news outlet, basically no one could? “Spider-Man: No Way Home” erased, for two hours, the horrors we keep hearing and fears we keep facing and dread that fills our days and made all of us in that theater feel really, really good.