Spider-Man: No Way Home Review


Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Spider-Man: No Way Home was released exclusively in theaters on December 17, 2021

I must admit something: though I tend to adore each installation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, frequently, the company repeats plots from film to film. They have a formula, and they have found that it works. However, a substantial number of critics find this repetition boring. Other times, the plot of a Marvel movie can ruin a character’s integrity, for the company chooses to focus more on the special effects they can use rather than the plot itself. This is when critics begin to refer to MCU movies as no more than a chaotic CGI mess.

Perhaps these statements apply to the Iron Man trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy, or even the Avengers franchise itself. In no universe, though, does it apply to Spider-Man: No Way Home.

How can I begin to describe this movie? Marvel Studios has outdone itself, exceeding all of my expectations. To my mind, this company has just created one of the best superhero movies of the 21st century. Never has a comic book character been written for the big screen so well as Peter Parker was in this movie — perhaps because of the three actors who showcase all aspects of his character so perfectly. This film merges the ideal assortment of heart-warming nostalgia, beautifully directed action, and just the right amount of fanservice to satisfy all viewers. Not to mention, I don’t think I’ve ever genuinely laughed at a Marvel movie as I did when sitting in the theater on December 17.

Now, it’s time for spoilers: if you haven’t seen the movie yet, definitely do scroll away now.

This movie takes place after Mysterio exposed Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man to the world after framing him for murder. After realizing that his friends MJ and Ned might not be accepted into their dream college, MIT, because of their connection to him, Peter asks Doctor Strange to make the world forget that he’s Spider-Man. Instead of the spell working, chaos ensues, and the multiverse breaks. (The most relatable part of all this was that Peter did all of it because of college admissions.)

For starters, I want to appreciate each member of the Sinister Six that was featured in No Way Home.

Willem Dafoe, portraying none other than Norman Osborn and his alter ego Green Goblin, astounded me with his performance. In the first Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire, I must admit, I thought Dafoe’s depiction of the Green Goblin’s goofiness was laughable at times. Yes, that’s at least part of the point of his character, but it became too much. In the newest installation, though, Green Goblin was an absolute menace — I didn’t laugh anytime he appeared on the screen. During the scene between him and Peter in Happy’s apartment, my jaw quite literally dropped when Norman so quickly became the villain. Not to mention, his cackle as Peter punched him repeatedly frightened me to the bone.

The other villains didn’t do as much for me as Green Goblin did, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy every moment they appeared on the screen. Doc Ock offered a feeling of nostalgia for me and, I’m sure, many others, in the audience. I loved seeing him again. Electro had some seriously good lines, and I loved his interactions with Andrew Garfield’s Peter. Sandman and the Lizard, again, didn’t do much for me, but they were great to see in a Marvel movie once again as well.

Another appearance that I enjoyed every moment of was Matt Murdock’s cameo as Peter’s lawyer. He might’ve had under a minute of screen time, but he captivated the audience each second of it. For those who don’t know, Matt Murdock is Daredevil, a blind vigilante who has his very own show on Netflix. I recommend watching it — you’ll love Matt and the show itself! Charlie Cox is perfectly cast, and I could not be happier that he’s reprising his role as Daredevil beyond Netflix and into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And, of course, the presences of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in this movie were probably the most anticipated yet and, ultimately, the most satisfying to watch come true.

It was like watching my childhood all come together one last time. I loved the banter between these two throughout their screentime; their dialogue seemed completely natural, especially when Tom Holland was included. I could go on for days about the references to Gwen Stacy, like Andrew’s Peter grabbing MJ from falling as a means of atoning for his mistake, or him watching MJ and Tom’s Peter in the lab. I loved how Tobey’s Peter acted like an older brother to both Andrew and Tom’s Peters as well. His encouraging dialogue was adorable to listen to. Simply put, the references to past movies were phenomenal.

I loved the relationship between Peter and MJ in this movie more than ever before. They truly seemed like a believable high school couple, especially with all the personality added to MJ for this movie. Tom and Zendaya’s chemistry was amazing.

Even the sadder parts of the movie were a 10/10. I loved how the older Peters explained to Tom’s Peter that perhaps Aunt May died for a reason, that she needed to tell him that iconic line, that “With great power, comes great responsibility,” that it was her destiny to help Peter fully become Spider-Man. It made her death more bearable and powerful.

Finally, the ending. I hated it for the way it made me feel. I felt numb afterward. I felt distraught. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was utterly flawless. Peter Parker, at his core, fights for everyone around him. He’ll always put others before himself. Yet, before No Way Home, MCU Peter rarely showed this integral quality. He relied on Iron Man for technology. He didn’t take responsibility for the villains entering his universe, as shown when he’s in Aunt May’s food pantry with Norman. Regardless, when he gave up everything he knew and loved — MJ, his future, Ned, all living memory of him — he fulfilled this characteristic like no other live-action Spider-Man has before. He knew that MJ and Ned would be better off without the danger his double life puts them in, despite how much he loved them. And now, he can become the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that we all know and love: one who makes his own suits and who fights for everyone he cares about.

All this to say, that is exactly what I mean when I say that no Marvel project has written a character so well as Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Needless to say, the movie does have its flaws. It’s compact; a lot goes in 2 ½ hours that perhaps could’ve been cut down. It also tends to make jokes out of things that shouldn’t be overlooked, like Harry Osborn’s death. But, these are often problems with MCU films, which make them relatively unsurprising.

This movie could’ve just been a money grab because, to be honest, with all of the appearances that much of the internet knew about. But, it was so much more than that. It made an entire generation of movie-goers reminisce about their childhood and the character they know and love. That in and of itself is a victory.