Ever since 2019’s Far From Home, rumors, hopes and dreams about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third Spider-Man film have been flying around the aether, and before I entered the theater to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, I made peace with the fact that the movie could never be as exciting or epic as I was anticipating.
I was very wrong.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a coalescence of everything beloved from the last twenty years of Spider-Man films, and not just in a way that services the fans of the last eight films; there’s a strong respect for the Spider-Man property that walks (and succeeds in) the tricky balance of telling an amazing story while paying off the history of Spider-Man films in a satisfying way. I think No Way Home comes the closest of any Spider-Man film yet to being universally fulfilling.
It directly follows Far From Home, after Peter Parker (Tom Holland)’s secret identity as Spider-Man has been revealed to the world. Peter’s struggles to deal with this sudden change end up creating an even bigger mess, and to say any more would be getting dangerously close to spoiler territory.
We see the titular superhero at his most vulnerable, tying back to his comic-based roots in ways that his first two films, for the most part, stayed away from. Tom Holland is absolutely incredible in the role, and it’s undoubtedly his best Spider-Man performance yet.
By now, I’ve seen it twice, and the scope of the story hasn’t gotten any smaller. Spider-Man: No Way Home changes the MCU permanently in a multitude of ways. There are points where it seems like it’s falling into the Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 trap of including too many villains, but the baddies that do appear are fantastic, and are honestly better here than they are in their original films. Ten, five, or even two years ago this film and this story wouldn’t have worked, but it seems like it’s come at the perfect time for the sum of its parts to work as well as they do.
As you see, it’s not easy to talk about this movie without directly discussing its story. The marketing was excellent at hiding the plot specifics, and I’ve been intentionally vague in my review because the film is best when gone in as blind as possible.
Needless to say, Spider-Man: No Way Home can be overwhelming at times. While running at nearly two and a half hours (though it doesn’t feel that long), you get a lot thrown at you at once and that’s not always the best way to experience a film, let alone a superhero film that you’re expected to keep up with all the way through. This hardly affects the experience — no matter your level of Spider-Man or Marvel fan, you will find something to love. The humor, the heart and the care associated with the character are omnipresent, and it’s also a ridiculously fun superhero epic that allows our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to soar to new heights while remaining grounded and staying true to the values that make him who he is. [Grade: A+]
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Marisa Tomei
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Fun Fact: Not really a fun fact, but after seeing Spider-Man also consider seeing Nightmare Alley, the new film from Guillermo del Toro (also released this past weekend) that is unfortunately getting buried in the box office.
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