Spider-Man: No Way Home review
Spider-Man: No Way Home isn’t just the best of the eight live-action Spider-Man films, it’s one of the superior films of the entire Marvel Studios franchise. This entry provides everything Spider-Man and Marvel Comics fans could have possibly have asked for with this installment and then some.
Fair warning — it’s best to go on social media silence until you see the film. There’s so many fan-pleasing moments here that it would suck to have it spoiled by some click-hungry reviewer or YouTuber. That said, I’m going to be extremely vague and avoid any specific plot details beyond what’s been shown in the trailers.
Mysterio’s final revenge has upended Spider-Man’s life after a video upload outed Spider-Man as Peter Parker (Tom Holland, Spies in Disguise). Loudmouth media personality J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos) has run wild with the news and seizing the moment to fully trash Spider-Man’s reputation.
This isn’t the ideal situation for any high school senior, but it’s ruining the lives of everyone Peter cares about from his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya, Space Jam: A New Legacy), best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei, The King of Staten Island). For so long superhero movies stressed the importance of maintaining a secret identity and No Way Home shows why that is so vital for the hero’s peace of mind.
Desperate to find a workable solution to this latest example of the cursed Parker luck, Peter reaches out to his superhero ally Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, What If…?) to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Predictably things don’t go exactly as planned. Soon visitors from other worlds including Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) and Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) appear. Like Avengers: Endgame, No Way Home is more rewarding to viewers who watched the original Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man trilogy and the two Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man films to appreciate all the references and inside jokes.
Director Jon Watts makes sure that viewers who have only followed Holland’s Spider-Man films aren’t lost with the arrival of these new characters and weave them in smoothly. Peter and Strange have differing opinions on how to handle the multi-dimensional travelers setting up some major problems for Peter and everything he holds dear.
No Way Home is a reminder that Marvel Studios undeniably gets the Marvel Comics characters down to the core.
These films don’t have to be exact re-enactments of their comic book source material, but capturing the essence of these iconic characters and stories is clearly an easy and billion dollar formula for Marvel Studios. (And give Sony Pictures credit for understanding the continued benefit of this partnership to keep Spider-Man in the MCU).
For Spider-Man that’s always been a mix of humor from the webslinger’s banter, over the top action, Peter Parker’s scientific genius at play and some heartfelt tragedy/emotional beats.
This is easier to pull off in comic books, which can spread those plot points out over the course of several issues. That’s what makes the work from the current Spider-Man trilogy screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers so impressive. No Way Home is the most layered non-Avengers Marvel Studios film yet.
Holland is the veteran Spider-Man actor now having played the role in six films now. He really does feel like the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and there’s little reason to think he can’t maintain that status for the next decade.
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Holland’s Peter Parker is a great blend of everything that makes the character so relatable and endearing. And he’s a talented enough performer that he can pull off the romantic moments with Zendaya with charming chemistry, the humor with well-earned laughs and the heavy drama convincingly enough to create a dry eye test. He’s undoubtedly made the role his now and Holland is only adding on to his legacy at this point.
Seeing Holland sharing the screen with former Spider-Man villains Dafoe, Molina and Foxx was incredibly rewarding making good on the concept of the multiverse immediately.
Zendaya is at the good in anything phase of her career, but she brings a youthful innocence and confidence to MJ that makes her unique among superhero love interests. Batalon probably doesn’t get his due for being the comedic sidekick, but he makes the role look so easy that it’s hard not to take his performance for granted.
Cumberbatch gives Strange such a prickly personality that anytime he’s paired with another Marvel hero it’s a blast. This is no exception and it was fun to revisit the unique dynamic of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. Strange doesn’t see a younger version of himself life Tony Stark did, but he respects Peter for being such a resourceful and courageous kid.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Marvel Comics universe is the neighborhood feel of the comics where in a random panel the Fantastic Four might appear in the X-Men, Punisher might pop up in a Captain America comic or Wolverine and Hulk might show up in Spider-Man.
No Way Home really captures that feel in an organic way without feeling like the writers are trying too hard to show a connected universe.
There’s neat little touches like the Rodgers: The Musical posters first shown in Hawkeye and links and connections from other Marvel properties like What If…?
There’s been a big push from Hollywood to get audiences back into theaters. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the first one in 2021 that really warrants the big screen initial viewing preferably in IMAX if that’s an option for you.
Watts stages some truly spectacular action sequences. It feels like each Spider-Man film in the Holland trilogy surpasses its predecessor in terms of raising the bar with the fight scenes. The Mysterio sequences were amazing in Far From Home and it feels like at least three battles were at least on that level with the final act one of the more breathtaking of any recent superhero film.
This is Watts’ last Spider-Man film as he’s moving over to launch the Marvel Studios debut of the Fantastic Four. Given his work on the Spider-Man trilogy, Watts’ Fantastic Four has to shoot up near the top of most anticipated future Marvel films.
Spider-Man: No Way Home has something for fans of every incarnation of the wall-crawler on the big screen and is one of the most satisfying superhero experiences ever. Need further proof to Make Mine Marvel (Studios)? Just check this out and prepare to be spectacularly amazed.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures
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