Review: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” – Closing off the year with one of the best MCU films… ever!


Ben Kaiser, News Editor

Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” movie.

When we left our hero last time, poor Peter Parker’s secret identity was revealed to the world and framed for murder. His friends and family are targets of the government, and his social life as a teenager is now ruined! How far will Spider-Man go to repair the growing publicity problems? Will he change identities? Be forced to hide in space? Make a deal with the devil? Brainwash the world with magic mumbo-jumbo?

As Dr. Strange warns, “Be careful what you wish for.”

“Spiderman: No Way Home” is a sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” It’s also the latest addition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU. While the rights remain with Sony Pictures, Marvel has kept a deal with them using the Spider-Man character and story.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts. Watts has been behind the other two MCU Spider-Man movies. Before Marvel, Watts wrote and directed “Clown,” a horror film about a demonic clown suit, and “Cop Car,” a crime thriller about kids hijacking a corrupt cop’s car. Watts’ films covered a variety of genres but have stuck with superheroes since “Spider-Man.” Even now, Watts is working on the upcoming “Fantastic Four” film for the MCU.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” stars Tom Holland (“Cherry”) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Zendaya (HBO’s “Euphoria”) as MJ, Jacob Batalon (“North Woods”) as Ned Leeds, and J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) as J. Jonah Jameson. Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s “Sherlock”) returns as Dr. Stephen Strange from “Doctor Strange.”

The film starts right where “Far from Home” ended. Mysterio post-humorously sent a video to the world revealing Peter Parker as Spider-Man. The resulting consequences affect his teenage life and everyone around him. Desperate to repair Mysterio’s damages, Parker does what any student of science would do: he finds the MCU magician, Dr. Strange, to fix everything with magic!

However, the spell causes supervillains from parallel universes (non-MCU Spider-Man movies) to pop up in New York, instead. Before Strange can reverse the spell, Parker learns that most of them died fighting their version of Spider-Man. Standing on strong morality, Parker has to find a way to save the villains from destined death without them trying to kill him first. Oh, and before the corrupt spell tears the fabrics of reality apart.

And that’s as much as I can say about the story without giving up spoilers that the movie trailers didn’t already give away. So I’m trying to stick with what the movie trailers already gave away. This isn’t easy.

Man, was this a great movie to watch. The story starts off complicated, dealing with the aftermath of “Far from Home.” As Parker continues trying to solve problems, he further complicates things until he is left with a difficult choice. It’s safe to say that there is nothing simple to this plot. Even in the end, the road continues to be a hard path for Parker. It truly shows the struggle of trying to balance a normal life and being a superhero. I felt for Spidey on this one. I know that might not sound like a happy ending, but it is. It’s just more of a bittersweet type.

In a rare movie experience, the Spider-Man villains bring back the same actors from the earlier films. Alfred Molina (“Frida”) returns as Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus, Willem Dafoe (“Platoon”) as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, and Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”) as Flint Marko/Sandman from the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” films. Jamie Foxx (“Ray”) and Rhys Ifans (“Notting Hill”) return as Max Dillon/Electro and Curt Connors/The Lizard, respectively, from Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” films. Honestly, it’s nothing short of amazing that they were able to get all of them back.

I know that this is a comic movie, centered on specialized fight scenes and special effects, but the acting in this is great. Tom Holland has been great in just about every movie, but man, does he go through some things in this one. If you add in the previous Spider-Man movies, his character has gone through a long character arc of wanting to be an Avenger to taking the great responsibilities of being a true hero.

The villain actors all get their moments, too. Dafoe continues his character’s struggle with the duality of Osborn’s and Green Goblin’s personalities while Molina’s Doc Ock struggles with his tentacles controlling his mind. Foxx’s Electro gets a wanting for more power with this universe’s more advanced technology. Church’s Sandman and Ifan’s Lizard are more just in for the ride, but they still hold importance for the plot.

There’s also significance to this move. It makes the earlier incarnations of the Spider-Man movies relevant to the ever-growing MCU. I think most viewers moved on after the MCU rebooted Spider-Man with the Tom Holland version. But this film shows that these two separate storylines exist with this one, in a parallel universe within the Multiverse that the MCU established. This can be a potential for other films to connect to future MCU stories, like for example, Nicholas Cage’s “Ghost Rider,” Ryan Reynold’s “Deadpool,” or the “X-Men” movies could crossover.

As per Marvel tradition, “No Way Home” ends with a mid- and post-credit scene. The mid-credit scene is more fan service for non-MCU Marvel fans (you’ll see), while the post-credit scene is a movie trailer for an upcoming Marvel sequel. Both end with big surprises!

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is currently playing in theaters.