starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Marisa Tomei
written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers
directed by Jon Watts
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Peter Parker (Tom Holland), having just been outed to the world as Spider-Man by a dying Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), finds himself besieged by press and angry mobs mistaken in their belief that Mysterio was a very handsome hero. This pushes Peter into hiding with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), and bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon). The kids need guards when they go to school (why are they still going to school?) and are trying to focus on applying to MIT because they're all three of them brilliant, in case you've forgotten. Recognizing the toll of his exposure on the people who have remained loyal to him, Peter asks Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell on the universe so that people forget him. How this might be achieved in the age of social media and pocket cameras is dismissed as "magic," which is also how it's explained that a hole in the multiverse opens up, allowing a bunch of villains and other versions of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield) to cross over into this one's reality. At least the film has the self-awareness to constantly call out the facility of "magic" as a catch-all, layering its characters' incredulity in a running joke about a "wizard's dungeon" and one character's "You have magic here?" As wit goes, it ain't much, but I'll take it.