Warning: This review contains spoilers for Spider-man: No Way Home. You have been warned.
Spider–Man: No Way Home is finally here. After the entirety of COVID and then some, one of the most awaited films in recent memory just hit the big screen, and for once, it delivered on every promise that fans dug up one rumor or leak after another.
Yes, Charlie Cox, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire are all in this film, despite Garfield’s insistent denials (we knew he was Jon Snow-ing us).
It’s the latter two’s arcs that really elevate this movie beyond just a typical superhero action flick, touching fans from all generations. The first Spider-Man released in 2002, making No Way Home almost 20 years in the making. I was 7 in 2002. Seven. And you can do the math to find out how old I am now. So, Spider-man movies have been in many viewers’ lives for about as long as they can remember. No matter who your favorite Spider-man is, No Way Home aims to give you heartfelt closure.
Tobey’s Peter Parker appears as the matured, older Spider-Man, plagued by the loss of Uncle Ben, but more importantly his inability to save Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe). No Way Home gives him the opportunity to save him and give him a second chance. Andrew Garfield’s Parker appears to be a few years older than in the Webb films. He still deals with massive guilt over the death of Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Here, he gets a chance to at least learn from his past and saves a falling MJ (Zendaya), even sharing a touching hug with her right after.
Thankfully, none of this threatens the displaced Peters we see in this film, thanks to the complicated time travel theory that Marvel uses. The events of this film create new offshoot universes, even if the MCU probably didn’t need more than we can assume there already are.
Speaking of, Garfield is a major highlight, giving an incredibly charismatic performance in his limited screen time. One of the reasons No Way Home works so well is its massive abundance of love that the audience can just feel. Every key player is a returning cast member from at least some Spidermovie. It affects every scene, fight sequence, relationship, and interaction. This movie has so much heart; it doesn’t just feel like a celebration of Spider-Man himself, but also the people who love him, from cast to creator to fan.
But these resolutions don’t detract from the Tom Holland Peter. This is, by all means, his story. Even if his main adversaries once belonged to a different Peter. Every punch lands just as hard as he fights to free Osborn from the Goblin who only takes. Even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man has been a bit surface-level, but No Way Home finally allows Peter to grow up, even if it is grim seeing him study for his GED, when earlier in the film he was hoping to get into MIT.
The legacy of Spider-Man deepens the Spider-Man of today, and although this MJ and Peter have really invoked too much emotion from me, the final scene nails how Peter has to make a very painful choice with them, one completely different than his intentions from the beginning of the film.
The character development is easily shown with the spells Peter asked of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). At the beginning of the film, the conflict is caused by Peter wanting to disclude his loved ones who knew his identity from forgetting the identity of Spider-man, and by the end, he’s sacrificing their memories of Peter Parker. Completely.
Despite a stellar third portion, No Way Home does struggle some in its second act. It’s in no way boring, but it’s a little slow. There’s also the language used when Peter talks about wanting to “fix” the “Sinister 5,” to the point of forcing them. Even though there’s a personality struggle element in characters like Osborn and Octavius (Alfred Molina), the initial scenes where Peter formulates his plans for helping the displaced antagonists just made me uncomfortable as a viewer with a disability. It’s not a reflection on the character, of course — all of his actions come from a good place — but there’s definitely a better way this could’ve gone down.
Some of the characters arcs aren’t quite cohesive, particularly with Max Dillon. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal is an improvement upon The Amazing Spider-Man 2, sure, but his story needed more time and care. Still, with rescheduling and COVID issues in mind, does the plot really matter that much in a movie like this? Probably not, at least for some.
The main reason this film is so captivating and enjoyable is the emotional component and reward for fans. Which includes fans who may only dabble in these movies, but also hardcore fans and Redditors as well. With key dialogue callbacks, plenty of Spider-suits, and many moments of pure fun, Spider-Man: No Way Home does exactly what its audience was hoping for and displays what Marvel does best, at its best.
No Way Home also boasts a beautiful ending, one that has Peter saying goodbye, but also saying hello again. If a new trilogy with Hollands’ Spider-Man weren’t already announced, it would be the perfect ending to this era of the hero, ending on a note of bittersweet hope. Thankfully, this ending is only a transition, and we can say “Hello, Peter,” before long.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters. Watch the trailer here.