Spider-Man: No Way Home is the cinematic event of the year. Thanks to internet speculation, leaks, and the trailer of the film, we know that Spider-Man (once again played by Tom Holland) is being visited by villains of movies past in Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Ock (Alfred Molina), and Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) from Sam Raimi’s original trilogy and Lizard (Rhys Ifans) and Electro (Jamie Foxx) from Marc Webb’s Andrew Garfield-led Spider-Man films. The idea of a spider-verse, seeing some of our favorite villains back on the big screen, and a new Tom Holland-led Spider-Man movie, No Way Home easily became one of the most anticipated movies of 2021.
But even with a trailer that shows legendary villains and a spider-verse, the internet has still been a buzz about who else could show up. Tobey Maguire? Andrew Garfield? Will there be a Mile Morales sighting? Venom? Rumors continue to swirl even as I type this review.
But for this review, I will spoil NOTHING for you about Spider-Man: No Way Home. There are plenty of surprises throughout the film, some big, some small, and some unexpected. But No Way Home isn’t just a movie about surprises and potential cameos. It is an epic, exciting, fun, and surprisingly emotional Spider-Man film and the best of the Tom Holland-led trilogy.
The last time we saw Spider-Man, his identity as Peter Parker was exposed by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). No Way Home picks up immediately after Jameson’s bombshell announcement. The aftermath affects Peter’s life and everyone around, including his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya), his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and every aspect of their lives. Peter seeks the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell that would have everyone forget he was Spider-Man. The spell doesn’t go as planned, and Dr. Strange inadvertently opens the universe which allows villains from other universes to come into his world.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the first Tom Holland Spider-Man movie that really focuses on him as Spider-Man. The previous films, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, showed Peter’s struggles with balancing his life as an intellectual high school student while also being Spider-Man and assuming the duties of saving the world. No Way Home really focuses on Spider-Man’s journey and shows him dealing with complete chaos and several villains, but also has him deal with the sacrifices a hero must make and how to deal with guilt and loss. Tom Holland gives not only his best performance as Spider-Man but the best performance of his career. The first two Spider-Man movies didn’t give Holland a lot to do. He was fun and charming, but emotionally thin. No Way Home gives Holland way more to do on the dramatic front and he knocks it out of the park. You feel Parker’s struggle and pain and Holland wears the emotional weight brilliantly. Holland also glows with charm and humor, something we have come to expect from this Spider-Man.
No Way Home is a gigantic movie. The film features numerous characters, huge set pieces, multiple settings, tons of visual effects, and universe-jumping villains. It’s juggling a ton of balls and may drop a couple at the beginning, but quickly finds its footing and builds up to one of the great superhero movie finales. Though some get more attention than others, seeing Dafoe, Molina, Church, Ifans, and Foxx was wonderful, with Dafoe and Molina being the standouts.
The ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home perfectly closes one trilogy and leaves the franchise open to a potentially new and exciting trilogy, especially with what happens in the mid-credit scene. But as the movie came to a close, I couldn’t help but wonder if all of this was necessary. Did we really need to bring in the multiverse? As awesome as it was, did we need to see old villains come back in this movie? Couldn’t we have gotten different villains that live in this world and have the movie play out in a similar way? Was all of this just Kevin Feige flexing his cinematic muscles and delivering a movie that feels like pure fan service? Could we have gotten to this point in the story without bringing in past Spider-Man characters? It’s tough to not think about what the point of all of this was beyond Feige wanting to deliver a movie solely for the fans. I personally don’t have an issue with the fan services in this film, and the MCU, in general, is going through a multiverse phase right now, but it makes you think about how good this movie could have been had it not been a film tailored to the fans and focused solely on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and his universe.
Despite all this, Spider-Man: No Way Home is an absolute blast. Tom Holland is at his best, the villains are awesome, and the film is endlessly entertaining and full of heart, emotion, and fun.
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