Once again those mad geniuses at Marvel have cooked up another amazing movie. Despite the fact that at first blush this seemed like Marvels attempt to retread the same plot as the award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, despite the fact that we’ve known the cast and what seemed to be the broad strokes of what this movie was going to be (and for what seems like forever), despite all of that Spider-Man: No Way Home is still able to surprise, delight, and fill with honest to god emotions. As ridiculous as it is to be feeling tears well up in your eyes about former Spider-Man actors, well, here we are!
Spider-Man: No Way Home delivers a great entry as Marvel’s third Spidey solo. It pulls in threads from the Amazing Spider-man duology and the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, weaving them together and, to borrow a phrase from Griffin Newman of Blank Check, paying out like a slot machine.
The movie kicks off right where Far From Home left off. Spider-man is swinging about New York when the Daily Bugle and Quentin Beck blow his identity and he’s accused of murder (and maybe war crimes?) and he needs to get out of it. This doesn’t take up nearly as much of the movie as you might expect but the change does set the foundation for Peter Parker’s world for the film, leading to him turning to Dr. Strange (definitely not Mephisto guys, relax) to try and undo the damage. As you might imagine, Peter and spellcraft mix poorly and villains start bursting out of the woodwork to take on Spider-Man.
From the start to what we know is going to happen in about 30 minutes flat, and then the movie really starts going places you’re not ready for and don’t suspect.
Spider-Man: No Way Home does some really cool things with the story, the world, and the characters and it’s something that you could only do in the MCU. The universe of movies that Feige and Co. have created and built upon allows for an amazing web (I’m not sorry) of characters to populate these movies and interact in such special ways. At this point, it should be expected and old hat but it still feels fresh to see the world of the MCU and how it reacts to the films that have come before.
When in the comics Peter has turned to magic to solve his problems it leads to one of the most despised arcs in the character’s history (One More Day), where here it fits. Of course teenage Peter Parker would think ‘Maybe magic can fix it?’ He’s a kid who just recently teamed up with the Sorcerer Supreme!
Tom Holland, Zendaya, even ol’ Benedict Cumberbatch himself are all delivering – as are the actors brought back to their roles, (some 20 years later!) Everyone is delivering in their roles and they all seem to be having fun, even if it’s just for a (fat) paycheck.
When it comes to the plot, this third entry is undoubtedly the most Spider-Man-focused of them all. Unlike the past two Marvel Spider-man films, No Way Home is dialed in on Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and not looking backward at Iron Man. This isn’t about Spider-Man starting and learning to be a hero from Tony Stark. It’s not about Spider-Man trying to become the next Iron Man in his absence. It’s about Peter Parker being the best Spider-Man he can be. For someone who is tired of the MCU’s reliance on Tony Stark as the jumping-off point for everything it’s wonderful! But maybe they can only allow themselves to jump from Iron Man as they dive deeper and instead explore the roots (and land in the safety) of the previous Spider-Man film franchises. That might be me being a bit cynical, but it is a thought.
To cut to the chase, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a charming, surprising, but most of all fun flick. If you’ve ever liked a Spider-Man before, you’ll love this.
Here Be Spoilers
So Peter Parker and Dr. Strange cast a spell. Of course, things go wrong as things are wont to do in Spider-man’s life. It pulls villains into the MCU from the other live-action Spidey movies and later it’s revealed not just the villains were brought along for the ride…
But Peter doesn’t want to just fight these villains. He wants to help them. And that makes for a great twist on the formula we’ve seen. Peter Parker get’ to use that superior intellect of his to help the villains overcome the accidents that made them “Be careful where you fall,” one of the villains quip as they share their origin stories. The MCU’s Peter Parker wants to help pick them back up. And he’s not doing it alone.
It’s really impressive how this movie captures these other Spider-Men, giving them character and an arc in the time since their last outing as the Wall Crawler. These aren’t the exact same characters that we last saw in 2007 and 2014, they have grown and changed and lived through the fallout of their stories.
Where Into the Spider-Verse gets to delight and play with all of the crazy different Spider heroes that some fans have seen in the comics, No Way Home gets to pick up the pieces from previous iterations that fans know and love and bring them back into the mix. That makes for some surprisingly potent emotional beats, as audience members have attachments to ‘their’ Spider-man much like Bond heads have their Bond.
These other Peters allow Spider-Man to have something that he doesn’t usually have in these movies. Someone who knows exactly what he’s been through and someone to commiserate with, and to give him the real guidance he needs. MCU Peter Parker was quickly a member of a larger superhero community but, at least for the MCU versions, these characters don’t have the level of tragedy that Spider-Man traditionally does, at least Pre-Snap. Even our current Peter Parker has been a relatively lucky guy all things considered. But Now Way Home changes that. It delivers failure after failure, blow after blow. Peter needs someone he can get the push from, and in a weirdly multi-dimensional way, the only person he can truly get that from is himself.
Taking away all of the wins Peter Parker has racked up so far and setting the slate clean, the movie sets us up for what can come next. In the ouroboros of the spider eating its own spinneret (or something) Spider-Man: No Way Home dives deepest into what came before it and resets to the status quo in an impressive way.
Here in the third Spider-Man series, the sixth MCU appearance, and the third “solo” movie, we really see the more traditional origin story beats for Peter.
When you think Spider-Man you think: Uncle Ben, great power and great responsibility. You think of a down on his luck kid trying incredibly hard to make ends meet, still be a hero, and have some semblance of a normal happy life. So far MCU Peter Parker doesn’t really have these struggles. He’s happy-go-lucky. He was friends and backed by the wealthiest man in the world. He had all the tech he could want and didn’t need to work. He’s with MJ! Now, after fighting off a multiversal threat of his Spider-Villains, only now does the MCU Peter Parker find himself in that familiar territory, backed into a corner and struggling to have it all. That’s really kind of incredible and makes me even more excited for what comes next.
Whether you think you’re tired of these movies or not, if you are a fan of comic books, you won’t be able to stop yourself from cheering in your seat.