It’s finally here. Jon Watts’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has seemingly brought the box office a step closer to its former self with its impressive $800 million haul (it will make $1 billion at this point), just as the omicron variant of the coronavirus has become dominant. And it’s very simple why this is the case:
“No Way Home” is the biggest film of the year, by far. Boasting the return of past Spider-Men Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, as well as their villains, this crossover film is on par with an “Avengers” movie.
This film picks up exactly where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” left off, with Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) secret identity being leaked to the public by the deceased Mysterio. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), host of the Info Wars-style show The Daily Bugle, portrays him as a public menace and murderer, and Peter soon finds himself in legal trouble when the E.D.I.T.H. (Even Dead, I’m the Hero) A.I. and drone tech Tony Stark left him is found out.
The truth eventually comes out and clears him of all legal responsibilities, but his newfound fame quickly becomes a nuisance. Peter and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are forced to move in with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to get away from the constant attention, and his controversy ends up keeping himself, his girlfriend, Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson (Zendaya), and his best friend, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), from getting into their dream school, M.I.T., while his childhood bully, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), profits off of his association with Peter.
This causes Peter to ask Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), whom he fought with during “Infinity War” and “Endgame,” for a favor: To cast a spell to make everyone forget that he’s Spider-Man. Against the advice of the new Sorcerer Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), Strange helps Peter, but the spell goes awry when Peter asks for too many exceptions to the spell.
This leads to villains from other Spider-Man universes to make their way into the MCU. Peter, MJ and Ned, with the help of Strange, then must round them up and send them home. But Peter has a change of heart when he realizes that they all die fighting Spider-Man, so he’s determined to fix them so they actually have a fighting chance of surviving when he sends them back.
Of the villains, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Otto Octavius/Doc Oc (Alfred Molina) and Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) are standouts, while Curt Connors/The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Flint Marko/Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) serve as secondary antagonists. Dafoe steals the show in any scene he is in, and the unpredictable nature of the Green Goblin makes him the perfect main villain of the film, as he takes advantage of Peter’s good nature. Molina is just as good here as he was in “Spider-Man 2”, and Foxx shows us just how much of a missed opportunity Sony had when they botched his character in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, as he’s easily the strongest villain outside of Dafoe’s Goblin. This is not to say that Church’s Sandman and Ifans’ Lizard were bad — they’re just support characters, which they work well as.
Now onto the other Spider-Men. Spoilers, if you want to read nothing about Maguire or Garfield.
I think they handled both elder Spider-Men very well, giving them enough time to really shine, but to never eclipse Holland; “No Way Home” is always his story at its core.
Maguire serves as the wise oldest Spider-Man, knowing exactly what Holland’s Spider-Man needs, having lived as the masked hero well into his 40s. He is calm and collected, and arguably is the one who has his life the most together, but is keen to step in when Holland is about to go too far.
Garfield’s Spider-Man, much like he was in his two films, is like a golden retriever, with constant energy and a need to help others, but he lacks the emotional maturity of Maguire’s Spider-Man. He’s grown a bit wiser since the end of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, and he does get his own moment of redemption in this film.
Maguire and Garfield serve as really good mentors for Holland, who ends up getting his own “with great power comes great responsibility” moment in this film, and they serve to be invaluable to keeping him on the path of the hero. I only wish that they were in the film longer, to form a more solid bond with him, and I wish there was some way Holland’s Spider-Man could easily talk to them after this film, as one of the main issues his character suffers from is a lack of permanent mentor figures.
I mentioned how this film is similar to an Avengers film in terms of being a huge crossover movie, but it also has impeccable epic storytelling like those films. Everyone is given something to do and has a place in the narrative, and almost all of our major characters have arcs, with Holland’s Spider-Man having the largest one: He learns that being a superhero has consequences to those he holds close, and its burden is not something he can share with everyone.
“No Way Home” is where Holland’s Spider-Man finally grows up, and while I will not spoil its ending, I will say that it is heartbreaking. If I were to rank this film among others in the series, only Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2” come close.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest film of the year, and for good reason. It essentially is the “Avengers” of the Spider-Man franchise, being a love letter to nearly 20 years of the silver screen webslinger. It works if you haven’t seen any Spider-Man films, but it also has a deeper meaning if you’re a diehard fan.
It’s nowhere near a perfect film, but it is pretty close to the perfect cloud pleasing film for 2021. Marvel somehow managed to give fans everything they wanted, while also making an excellent film. Bravo.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” gets a 9/10