TheseAreMyDogs’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review points out the current MCU tendency towards masculinity and power - watching this, where Spider-Man is really Peter Parker, and not the other way around, is such a different experience from the current superhero trajectory. Peter Parker as played by Maguire is the most tender of men; “Punch me, I bleed!” he admits to Mary Jane. Instead of physically beating Octavius until he breaks him, Spider-Man removes his mask and pleads with him as Peter Parker to be willing to sacrifice personal desire for the greater good.
Many superheroes walk the path of personal sacrifice, but we’ve yet to see a male superhero since who does so with such unabashed grace, love, and earnestness. He cries, often. He touches his Aunt’s hand after admitting his mistakes. Maguire’s big blue eyes admittedly help drive this softer Peter Parker home, but it’s his overall willingness to be emotional that make this Spider-Man so special.
It’s also SO clear in a way we just don’t see anymore in the MCU that Sam Raimi was truly allowed to direct this movie. You can see his fingerprints all over it, and, though Hollywood has long been ruled by corporatism, it’s refreshing to come back to a time when directors could really direct their superhero movies. It makes what I remember of Spider-Man 3’s woes all the more tragic.
Note: I adore all Spider-Men, and would have trouble saying anything bad about any iteration of Peter Parker. But… this one’s just different. And Vindicated plays with the credits.