Spiderman: No Way Home – The Most Spiderman Movie Yet
If you want a Spoiler-Free review, this is not it. While I won’t get into some of the most significant spoilers, this is a movie best gone into blind. In short, I recommend watching it. It’s good. Spider-Man fans rejoice. Now, where was I?
Every since I was a kid, I have loved Spiderman. It’s something I probably got from my Dad, who has loved Spiderman ever since he was a kid. From where I sit writing this very article, I have a view of my bookshelf, which includes several different Spiderman comic books, including Amazing Spiderman, Superior Spiderman, The Untold Tales of Spiderman, Superior Spiderman Team-up, a Deadpool and Spiderman crossover comic, and the Marvel: 1602 Graphic Novel… which includes Peter Parker, AKA Spiderman, in a supporting role. I also know that in the other room, I have a graphic novel of the original run of Spiderman comics.
Needless to say, I’m a nerd in every sense of the word.
I’m far from being alone in this fandom, either. Spiderman is THE MOST PROFITABLE superhero of all time, followed by DC’s Batman, in a very distant second place. Action figures, video games, backpacks, lunchboxes- Spider-Man’s face is on it all. Heck, you could probably find Spider-Man-themed free spins if you spent two minutes googling.
It’s actually kind of nuts that Spiderman has been this consistently popular. It’s probably helped that Spiderman is no stranger to the big screen, having been the main character of no less than eight individual cartoons. Spider-Man 1967 with its iconic theme song, Spider-Man 1994 with better animation and its own (albeit less renowned) theme song, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, etcetera, etcetera.
Attempts to make Spiderman films actually date back as early as 1977, with the made for television film “Spider-Man”. Gosh, where do they come up with these titles? This movie somehow managed to accrue two sequels, “Spider-Man Strikes Back” and “Spiderman: The Dragon’s Challenge”. There was also a Japanese film “Spider-Man” released back in 1978.
But let’s be real: The only Spider-Man films anyone cares to look back and remember began with the 2002 with the debut of Sam Rami’s “Spider-Man” trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire. This trilogy was eventually followed up by Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man films, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Far From Home, and, now, No Way Home.
That’s a lot of Spider-Man, and the only thing that has even more Spider-Man is that last movie, which was just recently released in theaters. I took my brother to see it yesterday (as of the time of writing this) and… it was everything I expected and more.
The movie opens exactly where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” leaves off. Mysterio, in a surprisingly petty act of posthumous revenge, reveals Spider-Man’s secret identity to the entire world. As a consequence, little nobody Peter Parker is suddenly the most famous person on the planet. He can’t go anywhere without being recorded, the FBI arrests him and his friends for illegal vigilantism, and he gets rejected from every college and university due to the controversy. (Remember, Mysterio also framed Spider-Man as responsible for all the damage and death from the last movie).
Not knowing what to do, Peter Parker turns to one of the only remaining Super Heros in New York after the events of Avengers: Endgame: Doctor Steven Strange. Peter asks him to cast a spell to make everyone forget that he’s Spider-Man so that he could go back to a semblance of a normal life. Dr. Strange agrees, but due to Tom Holland being the socially awkward misfit that he is, interrupts the spell and breaks all of reality. Now, everyone in the multiverse that knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man is slowly bleeding into MCU.
As a result, Tom Holland finds himself up against The Green Goblin from Spider-Man 1, Doc Ock from Spiderman 2, Sandman from Spider-Man 3, The Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man 1, Electro from the Amazing Spider-Man 2.
This brings up the movie’s big moral dilemma. All of these villains are taken from just a moment before they died in their respective films. Dr. Strange wants to (reasonably) just send them all back, but after some prompting from Aunt May, Tom Holland decides that he wants to help these villains get better so that they might not have to die.
Dr. Strange disagrees. Shenanigans ensue, and Spider-Man ends up teaming up with Spider-Man and Spider-Man to track down all of these villains, cure them of their respective physical or mental problems, and then send them back from whence they came.
So let’s get the most obvious comment out of the way first. If you’re a huge fan of all the Spider-Man movies, this movie is made for you. It is packed to the brim with references and in-jokes from within the fanbase that make you point at the screen like that one meme of Leonardo DeCaprio.
There is so much fanservice within this film; it’s insane. References to lines from previous movies, villains that were left out, cameos from characters previously not part of the MCU, memes… this movie features them all. Whether or not you love this movie will entirely depend on your opinion of, well, just about everything else Marvel has ever put out.
Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield return as their respective Spider-Men, and the actors for all the villains that have returned. The costumes, the lines, and all the references. Dear Lord, so many references.
Zendaya returns as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned. Both have their moments throughout this movie, and MJ especially is far, far more likable than she was in the previous two films. She and Peter have far better chemistry than they did in the previous movies, which is a huge relief since this movie centers a lot on their relationship.
The actors all do a great job. The standout has to be Willem Dafoe, who returns as Norman Osborne (AKA: The Green Goblin). He just chews on the scenery and is a standout in every scene he’s in.
While there are plenty of things to love about this movie (or gush over, if you’re a die-hard fan), I think I have some valid criticisms.
The first is Aunt May. Maybe this criticism is more of a generic one for Tom Holland’s entire trilogy, but… I’m not really a fan? The younger, hip, and flighty version of Aunt May just never sat well with me. Her relationship with Happy was also kind of hamfisted and weird, and I really did not need a swingin’ Aunt May running around.
Her advice is also what kicks off this entire plot’s shenanigans. She tells Peter to help these villains instead of just sending them back, and when Peter suggests this to Dr. Strange, he gives a very weak counter-argument. “It’s their fate”.
He could have very easily said, “There’s an infinite number of villains spread out across the multiverse- do you also intend to help ALL of them individually?”Although, Doctor Strange made a similar error in Avengers: Infinity war. When Thanos tells him his plan to eliminate half of all life to spread the resources better, Strange doesn’t ask the obvious question, “Why don’t you just double all of the resources?”
Maybe it’s not so out of character, after all…
The movie also has to work extremely hard to make sure that the plot doesn’t get resolved too quickly. Strange and Wong are conveniently removed from most of the plot. Nick Fury and Shield, who were witnesses to everything that happened in the last movie, are unavailable for some reason.
Also, Peter gets charged with vigilantism, even though he’s a recognized member of The Avengers which is a government-sanctioned group…? At least, the guys on Tony Stark’s half of the team were. Which includes Spider-Man. Also, did Tony Stark never leave ANY money for the rest of the Avengers? He managed to find time to give Peter a set of high-tech sunglasses but didn’t set him up with at least a scholarship?
Then there’s the spell that kick-starts this whole movie to begin with. Dr. Strange, almost Sorcerer Supreme, is well aware that the spell can’t be interrupted and doesn’t even think to ask Peter whether or not there are people whom he does want to remember who Spider-Man is? The spell also goes awry entirely because Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is, well, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and can’t get through a single conversation without turning into an anxious, babbling lunatic. It feels very… contrived, to say the least.
The resolution- well, contrived is a good word for it, and I’ll leave it at that.
Jamie Foxx’s Electro is, er, out of character? Hrng, how to best put this… uh, he’s a lot more black than he was in Amazing Spider-Man 2? I don’t mean in skin color (although he is a lot less blue than I remember) but attitude. In ASM 2, the character is portrayed as an awkward, introverted geek who ends up with way more power than he’s capable of handling, and it goes to his head. Here, he’s a lot more… “ghetto”.
Also, Tom Hardy’s Venom and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil are severely underused in this film. Oh yeah, Venom makes a cameo… and implies that the Symbiote somehow learned that Peter Parker was Spider-Man way before it ever landed on Earth?
Honestly, I want to say more, but I can’t think of anything else to say. All the best moments are best experienced for yourself. So while I think all my criticisms above are completely valid and more numerous than what I can list in the pro section, the cons don’t outweigh the pros. Spider-Man: Far From Home is a pretty damn good Spider-Man film, made by people who seem to really appreciate the fans.