Spider-Man has a long history in Marvel for many decades and the same can be said about its time in cinema. Ever since the first Spider-Man film in 2002, the superhero genre was redefined for years to come. The character has been through three iterations since then, with the recent one as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Spider-Man integrated into the MCU, the possibilities of more stories with the web-slinger were endless. The latest film Spider-Man: No Way Home is a testament to how much the character has changed and definitely takes a look at the legacy that was built as we celebrate the friendly neighborhood hero.
Picking up moments from Far From Home, the latest film finds Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as he has exposed as Spider-Man in front of the whole world thanks to one last act pulled by Mysterio. As Peter along with his friends and family attempt to clean this debacle, our young hero realizes how much of his life has affected those around him since his secret is out. With nowhere to turn, Peter turns to fellow Avenger Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in order to conjure up a plan to make sure no one knows he’s Spider-Man. However, some spells can be messy as we see that the multiverse opens up a portal allowing certain visitors from the Spider-Man mythos to invade Peter’s world. With this new danger on the horizon, Peter must learn what it really means to be a hero.
Spider-Man: No Way Home has a huge undertaking as it tackles multiple antagonists while also trying to be a character-driven story about our young hero. Both Marvel and Sony managed to keep a tight leash on details regarding the plot, but what we get is a Spidey story that hits all the right notes. Those who have grown familiar with the previous Spider-Man films over the years will get a sense of satisfaction as the latest installment revisits these characters and grapple with this new reality that they find themselves in. With a two-and-a-half-hour runtime, there is a lot of plot to explore. The first act goes straight into the drama that Peter and his friends face after the debacle with Peter’s identity as the famous web-slinger. It goes a bit into some high school problems we all face as teens, but once the villains enter the picture, we tend to leave that behind. The rest of the film goes into overdrive as we get into the heart of the story with all these villains as we go into a huge battle that fans will really cheer for.
The film is really a love letter to Spider-Man when we get all to revisit certain tropes from the past that remind us how great the world of Spidey really is. In order to fulfill that, the movie tends to give a lot of fan service that works for the most part. When it works to serve the plot, that’s when the movie truly makes good use of it. Sometimes it can get a little overly utilized where it can lose some of that momentum with certain scenes. However, the film becomes more of a fanboy’s dream of what a Spider-Man film can do. The way that it handles fan service really breaks down our favorite moments in Spider-Man’s long history in movies.
After seeing No Way Home, Tom Holland gives it his all in this performance, showing how much Peter has matured over these past few MCU films. We always see Peter learning from his peers, but this time he’s on his own as he makes mistakes and tries to overcome them. There are plenty of moments that show this throughout the film, making what might be Holland’s best execution as Spider-Man. Stepping up as a mentor to the young web-slinger, Benedict Cumberbatch manages to step it up as the Sorcerer Supreme and makes appearances when he needs to be so he doesn’t overshadow our main hero. He makes some fun scenes with Holland when their characters banter and disagree on things. Strange is mostly here as a way to jumpstart the story, but he will also cause Peter to reflect on some life lessons as well. These two make a great dynamic similar to Spidey and Tony Stark’s relationship.
Even some of the supporting cast gets to have their moments on screen. Zendaya is given more to do as MJ when we see her relationship with Peter becoming more serious after their awkward encounters in the past two films. Their relationship is really what drives part of the story and Zendaya gets to see a lot more action. Jacob Batalon remains Peter’s best bud who sticks by him when the going gets rough and we get some hilarious scenes with him. After two films staying on the sidelines, Marisa Tomei gets her moment in her scenes with Tom playing Aunt May. She gets to be more involved with what’s happening in Peter’s life as he faces this identity crisis. We even get to see a bit of Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan making some fun moments on screen.
Perhaps the other characters that fans truly want to see are this roster of villains from across the Spider-Man films like Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, and Lizard. Without giving too much away, these guys still make it work after playing these characters in previous iterations. Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octavius remains to be one of Spider-Man’s best villains portrayed on screen and he’s still got it after all these years. It’s as if he’s never left the role after coming back. Jamie Foxx’s Electro gets redefined for the better without forgetting his roots from The Amazing Spider-Man films. Foxx gets plenty of material to work with this time around and ends up being one of the most memorable characters in the film. Lizard and Sandman don’t get a lot to do, but they manage to get some good screen time whenever they are needed. It doesn’t go without saying that the scene-stealer has to go to Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin. His presence should satisfy fans of both the Sam Raimi films as well as his comic book origins.
The MCU Spider-Man films haven’t matched the incredible action set pieces we got in Sam Raimi’s films but No Way Home does come incredibly close. In the climactic battle, we see some great high-flying action with our hero as it reminisces to the earlier films. Without getting into too much detail, the fights here are perhaps one of the toughest that the MCU has pulled off and it sticks the landing so well. The fight sequence that fans will get to see is going to be the one that no one is going to forget for a while. Even the music from composer Michael Giacchino brings us back to the earlier films and fits in so well with the original score.
As a whole, Spider-Man: No Way Home lives up to expectations and then some. It truly is a celebration of Spider-Man’s legacy in the film that makes this a fun flick. The characters that we revisit across the multiverse give audiences a lot more to explore with them a second time. At the heart of it all, it is perhaps the most emotional arc for Spidey. From his start in the MCU to his solo adventures, we got to see the character evolve over a span of five years. No one knows what the future holds for Tom’s time to bring the web-crawler, but this works as a great send-off for him. No Way Home brings this trilogy to a close as Spider-Man makes his mark in the MCU that fits into what he is as a character. It’s a perfect way to commemorate over two decades of Spider-Man’s cinematic journey.