Spider-Man: No Way Home ~ a theatrical event like no other (SPOILERS)


   Spider-Man: No Way Home is the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the third film in the third series of Spider-Man films. It was released on December 17, 2021, exclusively in theaters. The film follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) after the events of the last film, Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), in which Spider-Man’s identity is revealed to the world. In this movie, Peter attempts to make his identity a secret once again with the help of Dr. Strange. When a spell that tries to solve Peter’s problem goes wrong, Spider-Man villains from other universes enter the MCU, and now it’s up to Peter to help them find their way home.

   It’s almost impossible to talk about this movie without spoiling it, so my review will be filled with them. If you still haven’t seen the movie and want to go in without any spoilers, don’t keep reading, come back once you’ve seen it!

   One of my biggest worries about this movie was that it was trying to shove too many plot points and ideas into one movie. I was very worried it would end up like two of the worst Spider-Man movies, which are The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) and Spider-Man 3 (2007) because both of these movies suffer from too many unconnected plot points and villains. This movie somehow accomplishes all of its goals successfully, and sometimes even perfectly. 

   While the reason the multiverse collapses in this movie is kind of lazy, once the villains from past movies arrived, my issues with the reason were null and void. The returning villains–Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans)–are all performed in ways that seem accurate to the characters from their respective movies. Willem Dafoe keeps his fantastic split personality from his first appearance in Spider-Man (2002), which was released nearly twenty years ago. He steals the show when it comes to the cast of villains, but his fantastic performance was overshadowed by two fan favorites. 

   As many fans predicted, it’s not just the villains from the previous films that return, but the respective Spider-Men themselves. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both reprise their roles of Spider-Man and it’s as amazing as expected. The best part of their appearances was that they weren’t just cameos, but served as a pivotal part of the plot. While they are featured prominently in the story, they don’t overstay their welcome. This is Holland’s Spider-Man movie after all. They are there to serve as mentors for Holland’s version of Peter after all he’s been through in the movie.

   Speaking of Holland, he delivers his best performance as the character in this installment.  One of my biggest problems with the MCU’s previous Spider-Man movies was the lack of consequences that Peter Parker faces for his and others’ actions alike. The way that he didn’t face consequences defeats the purpose of his character. That all changed with the ending of the previous movie when Peter’s identity gets revealed. It feels as if all of Peter’s karma from other movies came back to get him in this movie; he deals with a lot of grief and distress, from his friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) not being able to get into the college they want because of their relationship to Spider-Man, to the shocking and sad death of Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

   A little before Aunt May’s death, she says the iconic line, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” May being the one to say these words to Peter AFTER he already has become Spider-Man is a strange choice, mainly because of its implications. Uncle Ben is in my opinion the most important aspect of the origin of Spider-Man. Peter isn’t a hero because of the spider powers he has, but because of the way his Aunt and Uncle raised him. He is the one to tell Peter the famous line in the comics, and most interpretations of the hero’s origin. Does this change mean that Uncle Ben never existed in the MCU? Does it mean Uncle Ben never taught Peter the lesson that made him Spider-Man? This change has left me and a lot of other fans confused about the origins of this version of Spider-Man, but hopefully, these questions will be answered in the upcoming Disney+ show Spider-Man: Freshman Year. Even if they aren’t answered, the ending of this movie makes those sorts of details unimportant.

   My favorite part of the movie was definitely the ending. To stop the multiverse from collapsing, Peter and Dr. Strange decide to make everyone forget that Peter Parker ever existed, thus making everyone Peter has ever known unable to recognize who he is, including his loved ones. Although I did expect this ending, I was surprised at how well it was pulled off. The source material this ending is based on is a comic called ‘One More Day,’ and it is one of my least favorite Spider-Man storylines ever. In the story, a married Peter Parker makes a deal with Mephisto (Marvel Comics’ version of the devil) that ends up sacrificing the past few years of his life, years that included him meeting the love of his life and spouse, Mary Jane Watson, to bring back his elderly Aunt May who was killed by one of his foes. I think this idea is so ridiculous, but the changes that were made in this movie make it work. Instead of Peter making this decision out of selfishness like in the comic, he does it to save the multiverse. Everyone forgetting who Peter is acting as a soft reboot. Spider-Man is now back to basics, and sports one of the most comic-accurate costumes ever to be on the silver screen. This change makes me incredibly happy and excited to see what’s next for the character in his next trilogy of films.

   Spider-Man: No Way Home was one of the most anticipated movies of 2021, and it did not disappoint. This installment fixes most, if not all, of the problems I’ve had with the previous MCU Spider-Man movies, and brings in and continues the stories of the other two renditions of the character we’ve seen in live-action films. It wraps up this chapter of Peter Parker’s story very well and does an even better job at setting up the next. I would recommend this movie not only for Spider-Man fans, superhero fans, or just movie fans but for everyone. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of movie, similar to the likes of Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and even Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Hopefully, future installments can live up to the precedent this film has now set, but for now, I would say Spider-Man: No Way Home is a fantastic film that deserves to be seen in theatres.