Meet the Hanslick Girls: Gwen, Eleanor and Dania. Created by writer Zach Barr, they are a trio of friends who are always out experiencing the best of entertainment. Be it plays, films, concerts, exhibits, or restaurants, they’ve learned that the arts are best when experienced together. They may not have the same opinions, but their conversations tend to make for an entertaining read. Recently, the Girls saw “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” Sony and Marvel’s sixth film featuring the web-slinging hero. Let’s hear what they had to say on their way back from the theater…
“Eh, not totally worth it to stay.”
“More like absolutely worth it to stay, Gwen,” Dania countered. “I am always down for more of that man on screen.”
“I’m just glad you were right about their being another post-credits scene, Dania,” Eleanor conceded, as the lights rose in the theater. Around them, the patient few who had stayed for the entire credits of the film were standing, shuffling their bags around, cleaning up popcorn, and murmuring their silent deliberations about the film’s quality.
“Is there – there’s no 100 yard rule for a movie, right?” asked Dania.
“Not really,” Gwen said. “I guess if you were at the premiere and thought one of the artists might overhear, but not out here.”
“Great. I thought it was really really good,” Dania announced as she sprung out of her seat.
“Heaven forbid they overhear that biting criticism,” Eleanor said with a smile.
“Well, it was,” Dania repeated. “So, what do you think the ranking is now?”
“I’d say Holland, then Maguire, then Garfield.”
“For Spider-Man quality?” Gwen said, with shock. “No, no, it’s still gotta be Maguire, then Holland, then Garfield. Garfield’s at the bottom, duh, but I think Maguire is still – ”
“What, no, did…” Dania gestured to the dull white screen at the front. “Did you see the same movie?”
“Yeah,” Gwen said, standing her ground. “And Holland was really funny as Peter Parker. But Maguire is Spider-Man.”
“Okay, okay, fine,” Dania said, shuffling out of the theatre behind Gwen and Eleanor. “But talking about the whole character. Spider-Man and Peter Parker together. Holland is better.”
“See, I still go with Maguire, sorry,” Gwen continued. “He’s just got more of the ‘great power and great responsibility’ edge to him. He feels like he really understands the gravity of everything going down.”
As Dania rolled her eyes, Gwen got one more word in: “And he had way better villains, nbd.”
“Okay, yes,” Eleanor said, catching up to the two who, in their argument, had walked ahead of their friend. “Green Goblin and Doc Ock were solid, intense villains. This guy is just some poor guy who hates wealthy people for being rich.”
“And, you know, same,” Eleanor added, “but he’s not the most intense villain.”
“He’s more subtle, though,” Dania defended. “Like, did Doc Ock ever end up with Spider-Man and Mary Jane on the way to – ”
“That scene left me shook,” Eleanor agreed. “Capital S shook. I was tense the whole time.”
“It’s such a clever way of keeping the tension raised, as well,” Gwen said. “Because even before, you know, he figures it out…”
“I thought it wasn’t going to,” Eleanor said.
“Of course he was going to!” Dania argued.
“Even before that, it’s after the whole Washington Monument fight where he’s like, “Spider-Man saved Liz from death, well damn, I can’t kill him now.”
“Oh, man, I forgot about that!” Eleanor said. “So he’s already torn on whether to kill Spider-Man or just torture him, and then…”
The weight of the scene fell onto Eleanor like a structurally unstable evil lair.
“Pretty clever writing,” Gwen said. “Along with tying in the mentorship of Iron Man throughout the film as well. An okay Spider-Man movie, while still definitely being an Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.”
“Just an okay Spider-Man movie?” Dania asked, with bite.
“It’s not bad,” Gwen said. “But yes, I have comments.”
“You always do,” Eleanor said, with a smirk.
“I do, I always do,” Gwen said.
The three exited the theater and began walking down the road, the low sunset at their backs casting long shadows in front of them.
“Like how Spider-Man is basically just a bumbling teenager in this movie.”
“Yeah,” Dania agreed.
A beat passed between the three of them as they walked, all waiting for a response from the others.
“So we agree,” Gwen added, finally.
“Yeah,” Dania said excitedly. “That’s my argument for Holland, right there. It’s Peter Parker but actually in high school.”
“Hold on, you liked bumbling high school Spider-Man?” Gwen said, before immediately adding, “and even as I say that, I think I understand.”
“He’s adorable!” Dania added. “And he’s not all perfect and everything, like Maguire was. He’s learning to be a hero and hasn’t totally figured it out yet. That part where he’s holding the bike is right out of the Spider-Man character guide.”
“I liked that it was a distinct superhero character,” Eleanor clarified. “Spider-Man is actually supposed to be a teen in the comic, and that’s what he felt like here. Trying to embody the power and responsibility, but not totally sure how to yet. After all,” she continued, “the idea is that he’s always just not good enough to be an Avenger.”
“Well, except he is,” Gwen added, “but sure, he’s a little imperfect. But ‘imperfect’ is not the same as ‘basically a comedy movie with the guise of being a superhero movie.'”
“It was still a superhero movie,” Dania countered. “With the lame climax and everything.”
“Superhero movies never do have good endings, do they?” Eleanor observed.
“Not really,” Gwen conceded. “But still. I argue for Maguire because he was a little too good at his powers right away, sure, his learning process was quick. But that’s what I want to see in a Spider-Man movie. Not ninety minutes of someone trying to be Spider-Man – I want to see Spider-Man!”
“There’s still a lot of Spider-Man being himself in this movie,” Eleanor argued. “He does heroic things and still has time for his character development.”
“Yeah, did Maguire or Garfield ever have to put a broken ferry back together?” Dania asked. “Or break into a national monument?”
“I did actually have a moment,” Eleanor admitted, “during that ferry scene, when he gets trapped between the two halves of the ferry as it splits. It looked a lot like that scene from the second Maguire movie where he’s on the front of the train? Did you notice that?”
“I guess I just wanted less of the comedy moments with the best friend and more of the web-slinging – was there even a scene where he swings around the skyscrapers in New York?”
“Okay, not every Spider-Man movie needs a climactic New York skyscraper web scene,” Dania said. After taking a moment to reflect on the strange specificity of that sentence, she continued. “He web-swings around the neighborhood when he’s chasing the guys in the truck. You know, he is supposed to be a friendly – ”
“Neighborhood Spider-Man,” Dania and Eleanor said in unison.
“And even without the buildings, New York is all over this movie,” Eleanor added. “The scene where he orders the sandwich and it’s all specific, and he’s haggling like a little New Yorker…”
“Ordering a sandwich is such a staple of New York,” Gwen derided.
“It’s a very specific ritual,” Eleanor continued. “You’ve never lived there. It’s like, the first three movies are really New York because they were right after 9/11, so there are American flags everywhere and there’s that scene where the New Yorkers are beating up the Green Goblin. Sure, it’s got New York painted over it. This movie feels like it was battered in New York, and then cooked. It’s got New York baked into it.”
“It was a Spider-Man movie first, and a Marvel movie second,” Dania said. “It was both, but it was a Spider-Man movie first. And Spider-Man is funnier and less serious than Iron Man or Captain America or whatever.”
“I suppose,” Gwen said, “but what about – ”
“And hang on,” Dania interrupted. “I’m not letting your little subtle jab at Ned back there go uncommented on.”
“Who is Ned?”
“The best friend?” Eleanor exclaimed. She then got real close to Gwen’s ear and whispered, “The guy in the chair.”
“Don’t touch me.”
“The best friend with the green space rock who saves the day at the end!” Dania said. “He was one of the best parts of the movie, don’t deride him.”
“I didn’t hate him,” Gwen said. “He was funny, but like I said, I want a more balanced mix of funny and drama from Spider-Man.”
“Fair,” Eleanor said. “I did think the bit where he was asking about Peter’s powers went on maybe a touch too long, but on the whole he was really sweet. A good addition.”
“The whole thing’s a good addition,” Dania added. “Like, we got two kind of meh Spider-Man films, and how we have the best one so far. Life’s good.”
“Hm,” Gwen said, looking away. “I still think the first two Maguire ones are a little bit better, maybe just the second one…”
“Well, you know what that means,” Dania said, looking to Eleanor. “Tie breaker. Eleanor, who is the best Spider-Man?”
“Holland, or Maguire?” Gwen said.
The three fell silent for a brief moment, standing in the middle of the sidewalk.
Finally, Eleanor said, with an apologetic glance to her friend…
“Yes!” Dania cheered.
Gwen groaned. “Come on, really?”
“Just barely beats out Maguire, but it’s close,” Eleanor explained. “It’s close.”