Released: 16th December
Seen: 16th December
As usual, Marvel films are hard to review because saying anything about the plot is enough to have pitchforks and torches raised by an angry mob wanting to set fire to the spoiler who spoiled the movie for them so we’re going to mix up my normal order. I’ll do two paragraph of this review as my general overall thoughts about the movie, then I’ll pop the trailer in and that’s when I will start talking about plot stuff.
Now, I’m ONLY going to talk about things that have been in the marketing so if you’ve seen any trailers or posters or interviews then you already know this stuff. I won’t be bringing up anything that leaked or things like that so you can see my quick thoughts and then decide if you wanna go or you can read the whole thing where I flail for a thousand or more words because this movie is incredibly flail worth.
In short order, Spider-Man: No Way Home is the best of the MCU Spider-Man films by a wide margin. It’s the kind of epic tale you can only tell when you’re as big as the MCU is right now and have the ability to take genuinely huge risks with your characters and stories. This is the kind of movie that signals a change in the trajectory of the entire MCU. If Endgame signalled the ending of one era in the MCU, this is the starting point of the next era.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is setting up a lot of important ideas, tying up a ton of loose ends and throwing in enough fan service that everyone will be satisfied in some way. Possibly Tom Holland’s best performance in the entire MCU, certainly this is the moment where he stakes a solid claim at being the ultimate Spider-Man, it’s absolutely unmissable for anyone who is even a cursory fan of the franchise… and now, let’s start spoilerish stuff
Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up the second that the last film ended, with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) being framed for the murder of Mysterio, which causes not just Peter to be in serious trouble, but his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) are considered accomplices. Luckily none of them end up actually getting charged with murder but Peter quickly learns that having his identity known to the public causes more problems than it’s worth, especially for those he loves.
In a desperate attempt to try and fix things, Peter goes to Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who agrees to perform a spell that will make the entire world forget who Peter Parker is. Of course, because without something going wrong, we don’t have a plot, something goes horribly wrong and suddenly there’s something weird going on, like a man with metal arms calling himself Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) just turning up randomly or a flying guy dressed like a Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) appearing out of nowhere. Peter Parker will have to figure out what caused these weird characters to turn up in his reality before something else comes along to make things worse.
The concept of a multiverse has been hinted at for a while now in the MCU, thanks to little things like the appearance of Evan Peters in Wandavision (Seemingly reprising his role as Quicksilver from the X-Men movies which were not considered MCU canon up to that point) or the entirety of Loki but this is the movie that drags that multiverse concept into the films as more than just a funny joke (like, J Jonah Jameson in the last Spider-Man film was mostly just a reference joke for fans) and oh boy does it have fun by bringing back a ton of great villains from Spider-Man’s cinematic history.
There’s almost a feeling of a big kid playing with every toy they ever owned, just seeing what happens if we make Doc Ock and Electro (Jaime Foxx) banter for a couple of minutes (turns out it’s hysterical). There isn’t a single villain who is short changed here, though some are given more opportunities to really remind everyone why they’re iconic. They basically gave us a version of the legendary Sinister Six (ok technically five, close enough) and it’s glorious to see just how much damage they can cause when they work together.
Of course the three villains who get the best out of this are Electro, Doc Ock and Green Goblin and all of their actors are clearly having the time of their lives getting to revisit these characters. While Jaime Foxx and Alfred Molina really do steal every scene they have, the film leans in hard on Willem Dafoe’s incredible performance. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Spider-Man knows how good Dafoe is as the Green Goblin, his performance in the 2002 Spider-Man film is one of the best comic book villain performances of all time and somehow he does an even better job this time. He already hit the peak and found a higher place.
While the villains might be the thing that pushes the entire film through its story, what makes all this work is Tom Holland who just holds the entire film together. He goes through it, delivering a performance that will absolutely cement him as the definitive Spider-Man with all the quippy fun highs and emotionally devastating lows. He will get you laughing, cheering and crying all in a matter of minutes and do it while making it look effortless. I’m just glad that Sony made it official that they’ve got him for at least 3 more movies because this is the perfect marriage of actor and role and he deserves endless praise for holding such a difficult film together.
The truth is that Spider-Man: No Way Home is a difficult film, it’s not only got a pretty heady plot that’ll take a second to adjust to but it’s asking a lot of moral questions, like “Hey, maybe these villains are just mentally ill people who you’re violently assaulting for things they can’t control”, it doesn’t try to sugar coat that harsh reality and manages to not only tackle that subject head on but do so in a way that’s clever and provides a ton of great dramatic tension.
That emotional core to the film, trying to beat the bad guys by making them better, is what really gives this version of Spider-Man the heart that he needs. This is the movie where we get to see Peter Parker’s heart and soul, see how good a person he is and how much he will do absolutely anything to help those in need and just what it takes to break that spirit. It’s powerful, probably the most intimate connection any Marvel hero has had with the villains for a while. Sure some villains have tried to destroy a characters life before, but this time they actually try to break a characters spirit and it’s jaw dropping. Particularly at the ending, there is one particular moment during the climax where you will see a side of Peter Parker you didn’t think he had in him.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the perfect way to end this trilogy of Spider-Man films, it’s a love letter to the fans of the character and this franchise as a whole while also setting the stage for what’s sure to be the central focus of this year of MCU films. It more than lives up to the hype, this is up there with the Avengers team up films in terms of scope and importance to the franchise and god help me, I loved every second of it.
Also there are 2 end credits scene, one that’s kind of fun and the other is a teaser trailer for the next big MCU film and oh boy, they’ve broken the seal with this film so hope we’re ready for what they’ve got coming next.