Spider-Man: No Way Home has to be the most anticipated MCU film release since Avengers: End Game, though it has only been two years since Spider-Man: Far From Home, so much has happened to build the next phase of the MCU now having introduced the Multiverse thanks to the excellent Disney Plus shows, that the MCU Spider-Man finds himself dealing with the repercussions to the ending of Far From Home and now straight into this new era for the MCU. So there is quite a lot riding on this film and thankfully, it nails every single thing it has to accomplish including being the best Spider-Man film….ever!
*This will be a NON-SPOILER REVIEW, only references will be to trailers already released and my overall reaction and thoughts to the film*
This is going to be a rather difficult review to write just because so much of the story is in spoiler country with its many surprises and turns in the 2hrs 24-minute run time of ‘No Way Home’. Make no mistakes, this is a film you will want to see as soon as you are able too because once the spoilers do make it out there, it will lessen the experience of seeing it, one of the big reasons I will not be going into any for this review as there are surprises you might be expecting, some already hinted at and some you might not see coming but they should all be enjoyed as intended, by watching the film.
With that all said, ‘No Way Home’ is a tapestry of a variety of objectives which it manages to complete close to perfectly. This is a large scale MCU film which could fail if any of the components needed to make it all work suffer a misstep, happily the pacing and delivery of everything this story needs to accomplish works so well. The trailers all indicate a massive ensemble and coming together of characters across the Sony big screen Spider-Verse with multiple ‘Classic’ villains all being shown bridging the other two Sony Pictures Spider-Man films and the reveal of Doctor Octopus, originally played by the brilliant Alfred Milano confronting the Tom Holland Spider-Man gave me goosebumps.
We do need to start at the beginning which ironically actually begins with the ending of ‘Far From Home’, with Mysterio’s video revealing to the world that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and No Way Home literally begins in the moments of that reveal as Peter swoops up MJ who is being hounded by a crowd with questions about her relationship with Spider-Man. The opening really is the fallout from the reveal and how Peter is trying to handle this world now knowing who he is, judging him for the events of ‘Far From Home’ as Spider-Man and the impact being Spider-Man has on the life of Peter Parker and his friends and family. As seen in the trailers, this forces Peter to go to Dr Strange to ask for his magical help to undo the damage done by Mysterio’s revenge.
The Spell Doctor Strange offers to help Peter undo the mess he has found himself in, one that would make the entire world forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, does not go well mainly due to Peter constantly asking strange to adjust it which causes Strange to instead contain the spell before it can do harm to the world except, it still manages to pull into the world however, the villains known to fans from the other Spider-Man films. This moment, whilst shown in the trailers, is still immediate and in my cinema screening received an audible reaction from the audience, something that would indeed happen multiple times during the film, which is again, why I am choosing not to spoil those very moments in this review.
Now there is a lot of fan service in ‘No Way Home’ as you would expect, and so many of the twists and turns in the story do rely on the fan service of the audience knowing the other Spider-Man films to know who these villains are and why they are important. It would be very much fair to say this is story where you should not focus on the ‘Who and the What’ but the ‘How and the Why’. Knowing who is in this film is not as important as learning how they are here and why, and in doing so you do start to see how the bigger picture of setting up more of the MCU progress into the Multiverse, brilliantly explored and started in the Disney Plus shows Wandavision and Loki in terms of Doctor Strange who admits that the Multiverse is still a relatively unknown factor, to him at least. Doctor Strange being the vehicle to explain how the events in ‘No Way Home’ happen is more about introducing the Multiverse to him as he himself moves to his own next big screen story in ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’. We learn more about him as well and it is easy to forget that he himself was snapped out of existence during Infinity War and how his world was impacted by that, something that goes to explain why we saw so much of Wong in ‘Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’.
The one thing that is not lost in the scale of this massive story, however, is Peter’s journey and this is by far the most Peter Parker story yet in the MCU. In ‘Home Coming’ we saw a Peter Parker in the early months of having his powers, having been thrown into the Civil War battle of the Avengers and now trying to live up to what he feels is expected from him as a hero and Avenger all under the watchful eye of Tony Stark. In ‘Far from Home’ we see a Peter Parker now having to deal with the loss of Tony Stark and the legacy laid before him but still sent out on a mission by ‘Nick Fury’ which leads to more growth in him as a character before Mysterio drops the big bombshell. To this point, we have seen a Peter Parker trying to find his place in the world as himself and as Spider-Man and very much a Spider-Man almost defined by the people around him, especially other heroes with Peter constantly looking for guidance and acceptance.
But this story, is Peter Parker following his heart, his view of what a hero means even when it comes into conflict with someone as powerful and known as Doctor Strange. We finally get to see this Peter Parker truly soul searching at pivotal moments of the story in amongst all the usual comedy moments and light hearted scenes and we do get to see Peter as he is going to be from this point on, this trilogy of big screen stories really have been a true hero’s journey for him and I am so pleased that this very much remains the core of this film, never overshadowed by ensemble of iconic villains and is just about a kid trying to do the right thing for the people he cares about most. MJ has grown so much from the grumpy teenage love interest to someone Peter fully relies on for his emotional center whilst Ned, though still the comic relief at times, is the friend he can always turn too. This group has grown so much from ‘Home Coming’ and this film is truly the payoff for them all. Both Zendaya and Jacob Batalon have grown just as much as actors as their characters have, which along with Tom Holland, showing a maturity in their performances across the MCU Spider-Man films.
Coming out of the cinema and my mind was just racing and I had a massive smile on my face which I could not say was the same reaction with the first two MCU Spider-Man films. There is so much in this that I fully recommend seeing it as soon as you can. The action sequences are just incredible, which is why I fully intend to see this on IMAX after Christmas, the effects are amazing and the MCU update to the villains all make sense and work without changing too much about them that their original fans will notice and dislike. Seeing the Villains get a second chance on the big screen was satisfying, not just because of how their actors deliver more great performances with Jaime Foxx as Electro able to add more of himself to the role and William Defoe just stealing the screen as captivating as Green Goblin as ever. I am still in awe of just how much is in this film, how much is pays tribute to the character of Spider-Man across the different films but also in getting the MCU further into the new phase and not dropping the ball on any of it.
This has been a hard review to write and for a very good reason, this is a fantastic Spider-Man film and story, it is a brilliant MCU film, and it is a standout Comic Book film as well. There really are no negatives to talk about. I want everyone to have the same experience I had of watching this and enjoyed each surprise as it came on screen and to spoil that for anyone would be cruel. I will say this, if you are reading this and you have been on the fence about seeing this film either because you think you know or sadly have had some of the surprises spoiled for you, I implore you to still go see this film because it is just a great cinema experience that will be one of the more memorable MCU event films yet. Seeing how they pull this off and how it all comes together really does complete a journey for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, a character that many thought would never be in the MCU due to Sony owning the license to the character and even more following the scare that the deal was over.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of those films, like Winter Soldier, Infinity War and End Game that fans will study for years to come, it delivers on the expectations and manage to allay any concerns I had about it as I headed into the screening. It certainly is a must watch for MCU fans but also for fans of all Spider-Man films on the big screen, a fantastic watch to end 2021 on and the setup for the MCU Adventures to come, especially for its Spider-Man is very bright indeed!