Now that Spider-Man: No Way Home has been out for some time, the allotted time for spoiler-free content has passed and we can finally talk about it. Be warned, this review contains major spoilers.
First and foremost… WOW. This movie really took all of our expectations and somehow surpassed them all. Spider-Man: No Way Home, for all intents and purposes, is a love-letter to all types of Spider-Man fans. For the “long time, original Tobey-Maguire-Spider-Man” fans, for the “next-gen Andrew-Garfield-Spider-Man” fan, and for the new Tom-Holland-Spider-Man fan. But most importantly, this movie was a love letter to the comics.
Up until now, every live action Spider-man movie going back all the way to 2002, didn’t necessarily feel like a “comic book come to life.” Sure, a lot of them were amazing movies with plenty of comic accurate portrayals and storylines. But No Way Home felt like a comic book written into real life.
First example is the insane plot. Of course there have been plenty of busy and outlandish plots in Spider-Man movies, (some done extremely well and others not so much.) However, for the most part all Spider-Man movies followed a somewhat similar trope. Spidey’s got to stop the bad guy, who may or may not have made it personal somehow. Spider-Man has got to keep his loved ones safe who are somehow in danger. And maybe he’ll get it done with the help of his friends, girlfriend, or teammate. And don’t get us wrong, No Way Home, uses a lot of these tropes. But no live action Spider-Man movie has even attempted to do what No Way Home’s plot did.
A Spider-Man story in which he selflessly tries to save the lives of five multiversal travelers, knowing full well that they’re villains and could kill anyone at any moment, but still continuing because it’s his “responsibility,” is just the kind of crazy, bizarre Spider-Man plot you can expect from a comic or cartoon. With Tom Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy being the first Spider-Man to be a part of a shared universe, things like “Stark-tech,” and magic spells and portals, played a huge part in this story.
Some older fans might not like this, seeing as how much things have changed since the first live action Spider-Man in 2002. But a counter argument can be made that Spider-Man has always had to deal with these types of problems in the comics. Some fans may not know this but the plot to this movie was loosely based off of one of Marvel’s most controversial storylines, “Spider-Man: One More Day.” In this comic, after revealing his identity to the world, Peter’s Aunt May gets killed by one of his long-time rivals, now knowing his identity. So in a last resort to fix everything and save his Aunt May, Peter makes a deal with the demon, Mephisto, and makes it so that no one remembers who he is. But in exchange, Peter had to trade his relationship to Mary-Jane Watson. It was like they had never met. Sound familiar?
Another example of No Way Home being a comic book ripped right off the pages to the screen is the ending. Ninety-nine percent of all Spider-Man movies end relatively nicely. The day is saved, Spidey got the girl, and minimal casualties and sacrifices. Setting aside some outliers, (Amazing Spider-Man 2, Far From Home,) everything normally ends wrapped up neat with a bow. That’s not the case in No Way Home. The sacrifice Peter makes in the end to save the world is exactly the kind of thing we’d see in a comic. Peter putting the safety of everyone above his own, and experiencing the most pain anyone could ever feel while doing it.
This movie showed a different side to Peter we have not yet seen in the MCU trilogy. Yes, of course we see Peter angry and vengeful because of his aunt. Which was portrayed beautifully by Holland. But we also see his Peter Parker broken and completely alone. Up until now we’ve only seen Peter havin’ a blast while fighting the baddies. Throwing in a few quips now and again. Which isn’t a problem. That’s always how Spidey has been. But we never really saw this Spider-Man have to deal with legitimate and painful consequences. Iron Man had his back. Or the Avengers had his back. Even Doctor Strange was willing to lend a helping hand, (and if he had just locked his front door and told Peter to go home then none of this would have happened.) But by the end of the movie Peter has literally no one.
No Avengers, no sorcerers, no friends, no family. He even lost his first ever confidant, Happy Hogan. The final swing scene at the end symbolizes Peter starting fresh on his own. A changed, stronger Spider-Man. We are led to believe that Peter’s story has just begun. Alone in his new apartment getting back into his spider-duties after the final battle, we see that he’s built (or rather sewn together,) an extremely accurate Spider-Man suit. With absolutely no Stark-tech, no nano-tech, and no robot arms. But it’s not even close to the original “under-roos” suit from Civil War and Homecoming. It looks professional and legitimate. Just like the new and improved Spider-Man, who has been molded in his crucible.
Hopefully, if you haven’t seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, you stopped reading after the spoiler warning. But the cat’s out of the bag. Let’s talk about Tobey and Andrew!
As easy as it could have been to just use the two Spider-Men as comic relief, we’re grateful that’s not what happened. For the brief time they were in that universe, they were mentors to Holland’s Spider-Man. They were able to help pull him from the darkness that was going to consume him following the death of his Aunt May. Because the only people in the universe who could truly understand what Peter was feeling were other Peter’s. The two Spider-Men from the Sam Raimi’s universe and Marc Webb’s universe showed Peter what he could eventually become someday.
Bringing back these two Spider-Men was a risky move because it runs the danger of potentially opening up their stories again and leaving them open. While simultaneously mentoring Holland’s Spider-Man, we got a peak into what the other Spider-Men have been up to since their last movie. Tobey’s Spider-Man mentioned in No Way Home, that he “made it work,” with his MJ. While Andrew’s mentioned that after losing Gwen he got “rageful,” and “stopped pulling his punches.” Hopefully we get a little more details on what that entailed and what he meant by that, because if not, that’s going to leave a lot of unanswered questions lingering.
Their return also gave them a chance to redeem some of their biggest mistakes. Tobey’s Spider-Man said that he’s been thinking of a “Goblin cure,” ever since he failed to save Norman’s life in 2002. When Tobey’s Spider-Man stopped Holland’s from killing Norman, this was his way of redeeming himself. Feeling responsible for Norman’s death. And of course, that absolutely heartbreaking scene with Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man and Zendaya’s MJ. After Holland’s Spider-Man fails to catch MJ, Andrew’s leaps into action to save her from hitting the ground. Remembering how he failed to do so with his love, Gwen Stacy, he starts to tear up looking at MJ. (So did the rest of the theater.) He finally had redeemed himself from his biggest failure.
However, a movie this big and fantastical is bound to have a few “plot-holes” and issues. First off, sure, it might not have been very in-character for Spidey, but if he had just let Doctor Strange fix the spell everything would’ve been fine for Peter. He still would have all his friends and family. On the flip side of that, none of this would have happened from the beginning if Doctor Strange had just explained the rules before he did the actual spell. Or! thinking bigger, if Peter had just asked Stephen to wipe everyone’s mind of Mysterio spilling the beans to everyone, instead of just his identity, literally everything would go back to how it used to be. And don’t get us started on bringing Venom into the MCU for a total of five minutes just for him to get drunk and sent back home.
Aside from a few small plot-holes and issues that all movies have, Spider-Man: No Way Home was truly something special. It was everything the fans wanted and more. Some might say it was… Amazing. Spider-Man fans everywhere collectively say this is what a Spider-Man movie should be. I speak for all the fans out there when I say, we are eager to see what is next for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.