Spider-Man No Way Home: is a film that attempts to do a lot of things. Jon Watts directed the third Spider-Man film in the MCU trilogy, concluding Tom Holland’s storyline as Peter Parker. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a direct sequel, continuing from the film’s cliffhanger. It continues the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s “Phase Four” story arc. The movie pays tribute to Spider-Man films from the past 20 years.
It’s a lot of balls to juggle. No Way Home succeeds in pulling off as many of them as it does, especially when it comes to the fan service – however, it’s not possible to please everybody.
We have included spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home in this review, in addition to the basic plot details revealed in the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailers.
Skip this review if you want to go in completely blind.
Spider-Man No Way Home: continues the storyline from Far From Home. Mysterio’s latest trick revealed Peter Parker’s secret identity as Spider-Man, and now London is blamed for the villain’s rampage.
NO WAY HOME DOESN’T LET PETER GET OFF EASY
It’s not an easy ride for Peter in No Way Home, at least during its first third, which eschews heroics in favour of crushing a costumed hero. The world hates Peter because it believes he killed Mysterio. He doesn’t know how to pay for college. (An aside, this is the third time this plot point has appeared in an MCU project this year: why didn’t the Avengers get paid? Come on, Tony.) Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is forced to move after her apartment is surrounded by reporters and protesters. Peter’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon), and his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya), get soundly rejected from every college they apply to just by association with Peter.
So, in order to protect his loved ones, Peter turns to his fellow Avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and asks him to solve the problem. Of course, things go awry. Spider-Man 3 opens up the multiverse and spills out villains from Sony’s previous five Spider-Man movies spanning almost two decades: Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe, reprising his role from Spider-Man), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2), Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church, Spider-Man 3), Lizard (Rhys Ifan, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and Electro (Jamie Foxx, Spider-Man Each bad guy has been snatched up right before their web-slinging comeuppance and will have a second chance to avenge themselves on Spider-Man, who must find them and send them back to where they came from.
No Way Home delights in bringing back these characters. Every villain gets his turn in the spotlight (some briefer than others), and long-term Spider-Man fans will love getting to see Doc Ock smash through a highway of cars, a devilishly grinning Green Goblin cackling his way through scenes, or Jamie Foxx’s Electro not being a blue CGI copy of Doctor Manhattan. In the intervening 19 years, Dafoe has flitted between his feral and friendly personalities without missing a beat, while Molina has struggled to control his out-of-control creation. All The cast of Watts’ trilogy is also back. The way Holland plays Peter is his best yet: he’s still fresh-faced and quipping through fights while dealing with the weight of having to be Spider-Man. MJ and Ned are more divorced from the action, although Aunt May comes into the spotlight in some of the film’s quieter moments to great effect.
Although extremely entertaining, it shares the same flaw that all of Holland’s films have had: the smorgasbord of bad guys are once again other characters’ foes that Peter just happens to be dealing with, much like how he had to clean up Tony Stark’s mess in Homecoming and Far From Home. Peter’s mirror dimension duel with Doctor Strange feels more impactful than some of the villain fights – at least he knows his opponent’s name.
There are multiple emotional beats in the film that rely heavily on viewers’ knowledge of the previous five Spider-movies, in an effort to wrap up each villain’s story along with providing closure for the characters in the Tom Holland trilogy that No Way Home ostensibly concludes. There are many things going on.
PURE PAYOFF FOR TWO DECADES OF SPIDER-MAN FILMS
Nonetheless, once No Way Home hits its stride, it makes little difference. There are a lot of characters and cameos in scenes that are engineered to get audiences cheering. The last hour is basically just pure payoff for two decades of Spider-Man films, handled with a surprising amount of heart and humour, despite some darker swings halfway through. You’ll enjoy No Way Home whether you’re a fan of Sam Raimi, Marc Webb, or Jon Watts. It’s all very satisfying for fans, but at times it can feel like the movie is as much about Sony and Disney’s competing interests as it is about Spidey.
No Way Home does not let the rest of its characters go, instead of slamming the reset button and setting up future sequels with the now-traditional post-credit scenes for Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.
Holland’s incarnation of Spider-Man is expected to stay in the role for at least a few more movies, and No Way Home’s ending suggests he will shed some of Peter’s MCU baggage in exchange for a friendlier, more neighbourly Spider-Man. So at least future entries may finally let the character fly through the city on his own strength instead of relying on the ghosts of movies past.