Spider-Man: No Way Home feels the truest to the character. It’s not just that the film feels more independent than the other entries. The third Spider-Man movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t count on playing off other movies like Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Endgame.
SPOILER FREE Spider-Man: No Way Home Movie Review
Here is a Spider-Man movie that actually questions what makes it work. It brings up why we like Peter Parker and what makes him and his villains so compelling. In the tradition of the current fourth phase of the MCU, it’s also highly critical of evolving the character.
It also manages to be a bombastic celebration of Spider-Man lore. A lot of familiar characters come out of the woodwork to become the biggest Spider-Man movie ever. Yet it still manages to be a profound picture that is more than just a cavalcade of a nostalgic reunion.
Spider-Man Is Public Enemy #1
The film picks up right where the last film left off. Spider-Man has been blamed for the murder of Mysterio. Even worse, he’s been unmasked as Peter Parker.
After the initial hysteria of Peter (Tom Holland) handling this news, he tries to adjust to a world where everybody knows his powers. Some want his autographs and aim for a selfie. Others want to condemn him for murder.
Despite all the craziness, Peter still has his friends. His girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) still stick by him, planning their way to college. Their association, however, makes their dreams of MIT far from reality.
Aiming to make things right, Peter seeks out the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Strange thinks he may have just the answer with a spell that can make everyone forget Peter. That spell, however, becomes complicated when Peter starts having second thoughts.
Bad To Worse
Peter’s wavering about what to do leads to some unorthodox events. Rips in the multiverse start letting through Spider-Man villains. This includes the mechanical monstrosity of Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), surprised to discover a much different Spider-Man in this universe.
Without giving too much away, Peter essentially has to undo the damage of the spell he wanted to undo the damage of his reveal. Through this adventure, however, he learns to grow as a superhero. Namely, he wants to find a solution where nobody has to die, even if that seems like the only option.
The classic Spider-Man pathos is present here. He learns that being a superhero is not all as fun as it may seem. It’s enough to make the obligatory line about power and responsibility resonate as more than just a mantra of the web-slinger.
That being said, this embracement of this darkness isn’t treated like some somber turn. Spider-Man has always had an element of tragedy to his character, even within the MCU. This picture just takes that aspect of the character and gives it a refreshing maturity to allow the character to grow.
A Better Spider-Man
The Marvel movies that have followed Endgame have done a decent job at deconstructing the universe. Spider-Man: No Way Home may be one of the best in this area considering its focus. It’s an intriguing route for a character who previously galavanting in Stark tech with little care.
Much of the character is stripped down to his basic and most essential elements. Peter’s penchant for science comes more into play, as does his ability to work with little. Unlike previous movies, the tech he wields here is more for saving unfortunate souls rather than giving them a heavier punch.
For the fans who felt that Peter was turning too much into Tony Stark Junior, this film ensures that’s not the case. It brings out the joys and pains that come with reading a Spider-Man comic book. It embraces the absurdity and gets emotional for its darker moments.
A Better Battle
There are so many surprises in this picture that are sure to exhilarate the fanbase. Without revealing them, I will say the climax of the picture is a perfect mixture of the busy and bold. Yet it all comes together rather brilliantly for a set-piece staged around the Statue of Liberty.
Spider-Man’s world is one where heroes and villains can duke it all with all sorts of clever weapons. From dangerous tech to element manipulation to magical spells. There’s so much going on and yet it all has this vibe that never loses sight of what matters most.
The fights are also more than just a battle of brawn. Brain comes into play when contemplating the message Peter may be sending in his war for the multiverse. There’s a lot of weight on his shoulders and it’s exciting to watch him save the day by the skin of his teeth.
A Meeting of Many Minds
The weakest part of the film by far is when it gets a tad too meta. Given that this Spider-Man movie crosses over with various iterations, there’s sure to be some comical exchanges. After all, would Doc Ock even know about the Avengers?
While some of these conversations have their witty moments, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit. Many of the characters make obvious jokes and even poke fun at Sony’s previous Spider-Man attempts. It’s not as frequent but still gets a bit tiresome for being so obviously playing up for the nostalgic memes, making fans point at the screen Rick Dalton style.
Conclusion: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home manages to be a fitting conclusion for Tom Holland’s arc of the character while still going out with a bang. A rather big bang, actually. Balancing such a heavy cast and multiple superpowers is kinda par for the course with the MCU but it’s still a treat to see working so well for a Spider-Man movie.
It has not been easy trying to conceal the spoilers for this review because so much of the compelling aspects require divulging some huge secrets. What I can say is that the Marvel fans hoping to see a lot of familiar faces will not be disappointed. Expect a lot of gasps and cheers from the crowds.
I dare say this is the best Spider-Man movie of the MCU run thus far. It still doesn’t topple Into The Spiderverse (what does?) but it holds firm as the Peter Parker audiences have been waiting for. It’s the Spider-Man movie that is the perfect combo of fan-service frosting and a meaty character arc at its core.