Spider-Man: No Way Home is full of fan service, but it’s actually handled with purpose and honor. It opens up a number of questions, but it never feels confusing, rushed, or crowded. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more, delivering one of the greatest adventures in the MCU and Tom Holland’s best turn as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.
Well, I finally saw Spider-Man: No Way Home. The wait for it these last few weeks has been a bit brutal and part of me just wanted it to come already. The reality is it was my most anticipated film of the year and I was so excited for it. At the same time though, I was cautiously optimistic about it since I had high expectations and didn’t want to be let down by it. Of course, with the crazy Marvel fandom and all its theories about it, some are bound not to come true. For the sake of the review, I won’t be digging into these spoilers though, so you’ll have to watch it for yourself. With all that being said, Spider-Man: No Way Home is simply phenomenal.
No Way Home, once again, follows Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who, at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, sees Mysterio revealing his true identity of Peter Parker. With the whole world knowing who he is now, it further complicates his life and the lives of those close to him. Seeking Doctor Strange’s help to see if he can cast a spell and make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, Peter accidentally tampers with the spell, and it opens up the multiverse, bringing in villains of prior Spider-Man films into the MCU, such as Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and Electro. Now, Peter must figure out how to handle this and get them back to where they came from.
As mentioned, although I was excited, I had my reservations about the movie. Similar to WandaVision, there was plenty of theories about it and some of them didn’t end up coming true, which sort of disappointed some fans. At the end of the day, it was still a fantastic story, and it made me realize as fans, we need to let certain creators craft the stories they want to tell. Sometimes, fan service doesn’t always work out either, which was one of my main worries as well. Thankfully, all of it in No Way Home is handled with a clear vision and purpose. These characters are honored in the highest regard and not one feels shoe-horned into any scene. It was such a nostalgic experience seeing these villains come to life once again. Let me touch a bit more on these characters without digging too deep.
All the villains that appear are pretty great, but the standouts are easily Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto Octavius/Doc Ock, and Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. I guess you can say Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon/Electro is pretty cool too, and I mean it literally. He wasn’t the same nerdy one we got in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I love what they did with his character in this movie. Unfortunately, although they were also great, Thomas Haden Church’s Flint Marko/Sandman and Rhys Ifans’ Dr. Curt Connors didn’t play much of a huge role compared to the others. Then again, it didn’t bother me as much since it gave both Doc Ock and the Green Goblin more time to shine once again, especially after so many years.
Seeing the two actors return to these roles brought in all of the amazing memories I have watching the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. I still hold Spider-Man 2 high up as one of my favorite superhero films of all time, and it’s mostly because of how convincing and chilling Molina is as Doc Ock. He hasn’t lost a beat here, and I ended up loving the direction they decided to go with him. I was led to believe, based on the trailers, that Doc Ock would be my favorite once again, but it’s the Green Goblin who absolutely steals the show. He’s definitely back with a purpose in this film, and his character arc is the one I bought the most out of all the villains. I honestly think Dafoe is even better in this film. He’s insanely frightening in some scenes and he delivers some of the best action sequences in the entire film against Spider-Man.
I’ve always held Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man in high regard as one of the best iterations. I don’t understand some of the criticism he and his movies get, but at the same time, I do. It’s definitely true most of his movies, both the solo ones and the event ones, rely on another character to help him carry the weight. In Homecoming, Tony Stark/Iron Man is there to carry the load, while Far Far From has Mysterio to do the same. Don’t get it twisted, I still love those movies, but No Way Home is the first time we get to see Holland’s Peter Parker genuinely be Spider-Man. Not only does he have to deal with what it takes to be a superhero, but he also has huge problems with his personal life because of what transpires. Holland is simply fantastic in this movie and it’s, easily, his best performance as this character. He’s still a bit witty, adventurous, curious and careless, but when he has to turn it on in those dramatic and dark moments, he really does. He becomes the Spider-Man I’ve always envisioned from the comics right before your eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Some other standouts include Zendaya as MJ, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, and Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. It’s really impressive and equally awesome to see how much better Zendaya gets in this role with every film. She’s given more to do with every installment, and she really adds more to the overall dynamic between her and Peter. Their chemistry is evident as you watch them interact with each other, and this is also the best she’s been in the entire trilogy. She really took it up a notch in this film. Not surprisingly, but Cumberbatch is, once again, incredible as Doctor Strange. He was my favorite character in Avengers: Infinity War (besides Thanos) and he continues to add more depth and different layers to this character with every performance. I can’t wait to see what he does with him in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Batalon is yet another young actor who continues to get better and better. He’s still goofy as Ned, but is also the most interesting he’s ever been. He’s also given much more to do in this movie, and I’m sure you’ll love what they end up doing with him. Finally, there’s Tomei as Aunt May. If I’m being honest, I never really cared for her in the past two films since she’s simply there. She never really offered much to the viewers, and I don’t think she did much for Peter the way past iterations did. That definitely changes in No Way Home, and she’s given a much bigger role in this one. Of course, you’ll also have to wait and see that.
My biggest concern was how director Jon Watts was going to handle all of these characters. We’ve seen a few Spider-Man films lose their way already by being overwhelming with too many characters and not enough substance to support them. The final product ends up being a film that feels a bit rushed and messy. Thankfully, Watts handles it with grace and precision in No Way Home. As mentioned every character has a purpose and most of them have their moments to shine without taking away from the overall experience.
The story is also believable and incredibly well-crafted from beginning to end as well. Everything feels believable and, for the first time in the MCU, it actually feels like a Spider-Man story in terms of who the character is based on the comics. To reiterate, I did enjoy the others, but they were great superhero stories, not the best Spider-Man stories, if that makes any sense whatsoever. No Way Home is emotional, engaging, entertaining; the best Spider-Man story in the MCU, by far. I still have some gripes, and most of them are questions and some confusion I have about what happens next. The film leaves plenty of avenues for this character to take and it’s a bit frustrating to think about all of the possibilities this opens up. It’s also a bit confusing when it comes to the continuity of it all and where it takes place in the overall timeline. With everything that is happening in the MCU already, I’m sure it’ll all come together in due time.
The direction and special effects are visually stunning. Seeing Doctor Strange go to work with his spells and altering the scenery is very pleasing to the eye. Most of the character designs and the set pieces are great as well. As for the fight scenes, these are the most brutal fight scenes I have ever seen in any Spider-Man movie. The only ones to come close are those in Raimi’s trilogy. Holland wasn’t lying and he really brings a certain intensity we haven’t seen from him with these sequences.
I still have my questions about what’s next, and it’s hard to really give my overall thoughts and express everything without discussing all of the “spoilery” content, but No Way Home is probably the most fun I’ve had at the theater this year. It’s everything I wanted it to be and more. To say it surpassed my expectations is a severe understatement and, although I haven’t decided yet and my thoughts are always flip-flopping, it may be the best Spider-Man film I’ve ever seen. Please, do yourself a favor and go see it. Oh, as if I had to mention this anyway, but please stay for both post credits scenes.