Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can, and with his most recent movie, he pleases fans.
In December of 2021, eager fans packed movie theaters around the world to see Marvel Studios’ most anticipated recent release Spider-Man: No Way Home. The expectations for this movie were high, as the concept of the multiverse promised the return of beloved villains from the previous Spider-Man franchises, as well as the possibility of the return of the previous two Spider-Man incarnations, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
As one of the aforementioned “eager fans,” and as a human who lives and breathes all things Spider-Man, this movie met and exceeded expectations.
The movie follows Peter Parker (Spider-Man), struggling to get his life in check after his secret identity was revealed to the world by the super villain, Mysterio. After Peter and his friends are hounded by paparazzi and rejected from college, he seeks help from fellow superhero, Doctor Strange. Once agreeing to help him, Peter causes Doctor Strange to botch his spell to erase the memories of the public. The multiverse splits open causing old Spider-Man villains from across the multiverse to spill into the main Marvel Cinematic Universe.
These villains include the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus from the Tobey Maguire films, as well as Electro and the Lizard from the Andrew Garfield films. The rest of the film deals with Spider-Man tracking the villains down as he attempts to get them back to their respective universes without causing the deaths of these villains.
While the first act conflict might drag for some, the movie overall maintains a good pace, and allows time for what the audience truly wants to see. Once the first villain comes through, the film is a nonstop rollercoaster of twists, turns, emotions and plenty of wall-crawling, high flying action. This movie rectifies the issues many have had with the previous two MCU Spider-Man movies, No Way Home truly delivers on the emotional moments that make Spider-Man who he is.
The performances in the movie rise to the occasion in order to meet these emotional. Tom Holland gives his best performance to date as Spider-Man, bringing his all to the dramatic parts of the movie, while also still bringing his youthful charisma to the scenes where he has to play off of Zendaya’s MJ (Michelle Jones) and Jacob Batalon’s Ned Leeds.
It is also refreshing to see Holland finally get the chance to breathe in this film, as the writers finally take him out of Tony Stark’s shadow, and allow him to truly be Spider-Man.
To speak on the latter actors, Zendaya also gives her best performance to date as the love interest of Peter Parker, MJ, with the chemistry between her and Holland being palpable. Jacob Batalon also does a fantastic job as Ned, truly selling his banter and friendship with Holland and Zendaya.
While the main three cast members did a fantastic job, copious amounts of credit must be given to the returning villains as well. All returning actors slipped seamlessly back into their roles, and some were even able to improve upon their initial performances.
While Thomas Hayden Church and Rhys Ifans, who played both the Sandman and the Lizard respectively, did not have much to do in the film, their performances were still good, and they were just as entertaining as they were the first time around. Alfred Molina shined once again as Doctor Octopus, bringing the pathos and gravitas that he brought in 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Jamie Foxx shined as a new version of his villain, Electro, who got a major revamp from his lackluster performance in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Every change to Electro was welcome in this movie, with the look of the character being vastly improved, as well as the persona of the character being greatly shifted to appeal to a broader audience. Electro was much more confident, power hungry and lively, bringing him closer to his comic book counterpart.
Without question, the villain that shined the most was Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin, reprising his role from 2002’s Spider-Man. Dafoe brought his all to this role, truly conveying the insanity of Green Goblin. Every aspect of the performance, from the facial expressions, to the mannerisms create a truly despicable, vile character, the likes of which MCU fans have yet to see. Through Dafoe’s performance, the audience can clearly see why the Green Goblin is Spider-Man’s one true arch nemesis. At the end of the day, the largest issue with this character is that after Goblin shows his true villainy he is not seen again until the third act, during the climactic battle scene.
While the film takes a little while to truly get going, and despite the fact that the movie creates some plot holes and leaps in logic in order to do everything it wants to do, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is not only an sensational comic book movie, but it is also a spectacular film, which truly speaks to what makes the character who he is and why he does what he does. In the end, whether you are a diehard Spider-Man fan, a casual Spider-Man fan, an MCU fan or someone looking for a good time at the movies, No Way Home is the movie for you.
WARNING-AFTER THIS POINT, SPOILERS WILL BE DISCUSSED! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, SPOILERS ARE COMING!
This movie rectifies nearly all of the issues that audiences have had with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. This movie establishes that Peter never really knew his Uncle Ben, and instead gives the famous “with great power, comes great responsibility” moment to Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May. Peter learns what it truly means to be a hero after Aunt May utters the aphorism and is subsequently murdered by the Green Goblin.
After brooding over the loss of his aunt, Peter’s faith in being a hero is restored after the lesson from his aunt is cemented by advice from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. This movie does in fact answer the prayers of the fans, as the previous two Spider-Man actors return to reprise their roles to not only teach Holland what it means to be Spider-Man, but to do a little day saving as well. While many believed the other two actors would only be in the film for a brief period of time, they were in it for a substantial spell.
The chemistry between the three Spider-Men is tangible and a treat to watch, as they form a brotherly relationship. Maguire and Garfield slip effortlessly back into their roles, with Maguire bringing the same dorky, heartfelt charm that he delivered 14 years ago. Garfield knocks his performance out the park. It is great to see his wonderful performance in a film with solid writing, cementing him as a truly great Spider-Man. The inclusion of the other two actors was fantastic and gave fans everything they could have asked for.
To speak on the ending, while it stings to see Peter lose his best friends and family after having his identity erased, it creates a brand new day for Spider-Man, placing him in a new position to be a street level, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The ending allows Peter to now have to fend for himself and gain a new supporting cast, without the influence of Tony Stark or the Avengers.