Spider-Man: No Way Home – Review

Stylized illustration of Spider-Man. Spider-man: No Way Home hit theaters December 16th, 2021. Illustration by Jacob Layson-Davis.

Warning: This story contains massive spoilers for the MCU Spider-Man Universe and Spider-Man: No Way Home

Three universes collide when the third installment of the MCU Spider-Man movies hit theaters on December 16, 2021, with famous cast members Zendaya (Michelle “MJ” Jones), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), and Tom Holland (Spider-Man). Highly anticipated, and in production since October 16, 2020, Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up at the exact ending of the previous movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and involves returning character Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and many other memorable characters that Spider-Man fans were excited to see. With a running time of two hours and 28 minutes, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man struggles with the world knowing his true identity as Peter Parker, a result of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) unmasking our favorite wall crawler, as a broadcasted message plays all over Times Square, before his (Mysterio’s) death. The movie opens with the problems Spider-Man faces as everyone begins to call him Peter, rather than the super hero name he was once known as. After facing the immense pressure placed on his newly discovered identity, Peter feels trapped in his home city of New York. The chaos prohibits Peter’s friends and family from leading normal lives, so Peter Parker looks to beloved Marvel hero Dr. Strange to help reverse the effects of Mysterio’s reveal. While skeptical, Dr. Strange agrees, but halfway through the spell that would return everything back to normal, mistakes were made (in typical MCU fashion), and the past foes from both the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man adaptations (Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man), were “resurrected,” creating chaos amongst Peter Parker’s universe. 

The first Villain, from the Raimi adaptation, to come into contact with Holland’s Spider-Man is none other than Doctor Otto Octavius, aka Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). Fans remember his watery demise in Spider-Man 2, and it was a shock to see his revitalization on screen. Another popular villain that was exciting to see make a reappearance was Norman Osborn aka The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), who ends up being one of the main antagonists of the movie. Like the first movie, Norman Osborn was keeping his false identity of an innocent man, turning out to be a cold blooded killer. As one of the first villains in any Spider-Man movie, we got to know Osborn as the infamous green suited villain. The third villain that appeared was the one who had a change of heart, Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), who originally appeared in the third Raimi movie. In his reappearance in No Way Home, it’s clear that the last time he saw Spider-Man, they left on good terms. The other Spider-Man antagonists appearing in No Way Home, both from the Amazing Spider-Man adaptation are the Lizard, otherwise known as Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), and Electro (Jamie Foxx).

These villains were transported through the spell that Dr. Strange cast, or rather cast unsuccessfully, but two other significant characters were also taken from their universes and thrown into Tom Holland’s universe. Much like Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, the Spider-Men, both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield versions, find themselves standing across from each other, shocked as to what could have happened. Peter Parker 2 (Tobey Maguire), and Peter Parker 3 (played by Andrew Garfield), finally meet, as well as Peter Parker 1 (Tom Holland), to fight together to return the various characters from all the universes back to their known worlds.

The simple solution for Peter 1 was to simply capture and send the villains back home, per orders of Dr. Strange, but as he found out, all villains would be sent to their deaths in their own universes. As someone who upholds good, and can’t stand to see unnecessary death, Peter 1 refuses to send them back, but instead tries to give all the villains their unique remedy that can cure them of their problems. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home was an incredibly pleasing experience for both hardcore Spidey fans and new time viewers, it was full of comedy and action, as well as loads of references to the previous beloved movies. As all three Peters are conversing with each other about their past memorable fights, Peter 2 (Toby Maguire) lets Peter 3 (Andrew Garfield) know that he is “literally amazing,” (in reference to the name of his movies, The Amazing Spider-Man). Near the end of the movie, Peter 3 is able to finally experience closure about the death of the love of his life, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who he failed to save in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, by saving MJ as she falls from the Statue of Liberty. Many fans of the movie are right here at Franklin; one of them, junior Kai Brown, shares his input: “I thought it was great. I liked the call-backs to previous Spider-Man villains, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you liked the Spider-Man franchises.” His favorite reference to a past movie was the reuse of Green Goblin’s famous quote, “I’m something of a scientist myself.” 

After saving all of the villains, Tom Holland’s Peter has a difficult choice to make at the end of the movie. To send them back, Dr. Strange would need to complete the spell, ensuring that everyone in his universe would forget that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. Spider-Man would still be stopping crime wherever he could, but his girlfriend and best friend would not remember him at all. After a promise to MJ that he would find her, and reintroduce himself, Peter 1 gave Dr. Strange permission to complete the spell. Although everyone forgot who Spider-Man’s true identity was, I don’t think any of us will want to forget this movie anytime soon.

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