Fair warning: this story contains spoilers for both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Chiefs vs. Bills: Too Much Time. These two remarkable cinematic achievements have a few things in common: all-star casts, blow-for-blow battles, and a clear direction for the future of the franchise. In both instances, the very fabric of time and space was torn open so the hero could get the job done. Spider-Man needed some help from Doctor Strange. The Kansas City Chiefs got their late-game magic from Patrick Mahomes.
In the week leading up to the game, I took issue with the idea that Mahomes and Bills quarterback Josh Allen were about to cement themselves as the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning of this generation. But not because Mahomes and Allen weren't worthy of the discussion — almost the opposite, in fact. Mahomes and Allen didn't enter the league to be a reboot of a previously acclaimed storyline. They play the position differently. They move differently. They act differently. Will any quarterback currently playing football ever have the surgical precision of Manning? Perhaps not. Will anyone ever match Brady's unprecedented pile of Lombardi trophies? Seems difficult. But that's fine with me. Mahomes and Allen are a unique and unprecedented duo that should be making movie magic for many, many years to come.
But that sucks for the Chiefs, right? Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson have all informed the AFC that they deserve to be taken seriously. Even Brady and Manning lost to lesser quarterbacks in the playoffs. Wouldn't the Chiefs be luckier to live in a world without so many up-and-coming challengers?
If you think that's the case, you should go re-watch Spider-Man.
I consider myself a bit of an apologist on behalf of the Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man movies. Garfield and Emma Stone were great as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey, and they made some genuinely surprising choices that most superhero movies would have passed up. But they also had a major issue: none of the villains were particularly interesting. Dr. Curt Conners/a nine-foot-tall lizard was a flat, predictable villain in the first movie, and Jamie Foxx's Electro never really went anywhere in the sequel. Compare that against the tragic villains of Toby McGuire's Spider-Man trilogy or the antagonists of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe and you can see why Garfield's two movies weren't considered all that Amazing. (This is still about the Chiefs. Stick with me. Appreciate you making it this far.)
Great superhero stories need great villains. Entire teams of superheroes need a lot of them. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs now have a script in which they become the center of America's favorite sport in the middle of its new golden age. Allen, Herbert, Jackson, Burrow and whoever comes next are all doing Mahomes and the Chiefs a favor, in a way. They're giving the main character a formidable foe.
Why Spider-Man: No Way Home, though? Batman needs his villains too. Sometimes they even get their own movies! There's a good answer, but it's serious spoiler territory. (But if you haven't watched No Way Home by now, are you ever going to?)
In addition to a whole cast of returning villains, No Way Home has three Spider-Men. The Chiefs may have four.
As my friend Seth Keysor has already written about (and expertly nicknamed), the Chiefs don't just have Mahomes. They have, in Seth's phrasing, "the anomaly, the chess master, and the GOAT." Tyreek Hill, Andy Reid, and Travis Kelce, respectively. Any of those three could carry a movie (and a game) in their own right. But to bring that group together with Mahomes at quarterback creates a borderline-superteam required to save the multiverse from certain destruction and/or host four consecutive AFC Championship games.
What if you don't care for superheroes, wanted to skip the spoilers or just got bored?
Well, thanks for scrolling down, at least. My hope is for Chiefs fans to appreciate Allen and the rest of the young guns quarterbacking the AFC to more electric futures. Don't resent them if and when they eventually take a hard-fought round from Mahomes and the Chiefs. Appreciate the fact that they're a vital part of this new era of the NFL where the sport of football is at its absolute best.
At least in this universe, your team and your quarterback are at the center of it all.