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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: A super enjoyable two-and-a-half hour long callback

*Spoilers ahead: I recommend not reading until you watch it!

 

Like the rest of the world, I have joined in the Spider-Man renaissance. Throughout winter break I spent my days in between work and studying watching every Spider-Man movie, preparing for what I knew was going to be an amazing combination of the live-action Spider-Man movies as a way to wrap up Tom Holland’s storyline. While I am not entirely sure if there will be more movies featuring my second favorite British Spider-Man, “No Way Home” ties the loose ends into a solemn and introspective bow. 

With Spider-Man’s identity exposed, as seen in the end credit scene of “Far From Home,” Peter Parker’s life is turned upside down in the worst ways possible. His very status as a hero is questioned when he is arrested for the murder of Mysterio, and his chances of a normal future are thrown away as the world begins to turn their backs on him. What ensues after Peter attempts to fix the future for his friends—and himself—is a break in the multiverse, causing villains and Spider-Men from other realities to be pulled into the Tom Holland Spider-Man New York. 

Such an interesting premise for a movie brought nostalgia for fans of past Spider-Man movies, while also forcing Tom Holland’s Peter Parker to really question what he is doing with his power. Unlike the other two Spider-Men, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker had yet to really grapple with the reality of his abilities, and what his responsibility to the public is because of them. Finally, he got his classic Spider-Man moment with Aunt May, in lieu of an Uncle Ben. 

With great power comes great responsibility. 

It wasn’t exactly those words that Aunt May told Peter, but it was close enough to really hit audiences in the chest. Peter finally had to think about how much hurt he has caused, even to those who may have deserved it. Having Peter grapple with this while faced with every villain from the other two realities was an amazing touch, as unlike the villains Tom Holland’s Peter had encountered thus far, most Spider-Man villains are redeemable. 

Electro (Jamie Foxx), originally shown in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” with Andrew Garfield, was a misunderstood loner who became a villain by chance. His power made people notice him for the first time. Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), as seen in the last of the Tobey Maguire trilogy, was a criminal who happened to fall into some sort of nuclear matter test site while running from the police, becoming entirely made of sand in the process. But Sandman, or Flint Marko, was only a criminal to get money for his terminally ill daughter. Doc Ock’s (Alfred Molina) mechanical arms began to control him because of a freak accident, Lizard (Rhys Ifans) only transformed himself in order to grow back the arm he lost, I could go on and on. Even Green Goblin (Benedict Cumberbatch and Willem Dafoe) is redeemable. Norman Osborn, a desperate man trying not to lose his failing company, took a serum that made him go insane. 

Each one of the villains portrayed in “No Way Home” had a reason for their villainy, and was able to become better or be cured if someone gave them a second chance. Each Spider-Man had to grapple with the fact that they have to forgive the villain who caused them the most pain. Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man was able to forgive Sandman for killing Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man 3.” In this movie, Andrew Garfield eventually was able to fight to cure Electro, who caused the death of Gwen Stacy in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” And Tom Holland ended things once and for all with a dramatic fight between him and the villain who caused an equal amount of pain for him. Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man also got to have an emotional scene successfully catching MJ, whose Amazing Spider-Man counterpart, Gwen Stacy, did not get the same lucky treatment. 

I went into the theater with the highest of hopes and came out completely fulfilled. While things may not all be happy for every Spider-Man, they all upheld their duty to do good even when it is the hardest thing to do. Additionally, the all-star cast was hilarious and kept things light despite their characters having very real battles. The Spider-Men have comedic back and forths discussing their differences in abilities and struggles which really highlighted all the best parts about each rendition of the classic character. 

There were a few surprises here and there, like a cameo from Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil. Along with a surprising new power for Spider-Man’s best friend Ned Leeds—that hopefully will not be used to create another best friend to supervillain story arc—and an unexpected change of heart for Doc Ock. Additionally, Electro’s comment about there being a Black Spider-Man out there was a lovely connection to Miles Morales as Spider-Man and the upcoming October 2022 release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” 

The return of (most of) the previous Spider-Man villains from the first two adaptations of the hero’s story allowed for many solidly matched high-energy fight scenes while also creating the redemption arcs each of these villains deserved. Although previous iterations of Spider-Man hinted at how the audiences should understand the villains, this movie forced us all to understand them. The many scenes of the villains interacting with one another allowed for audiences to see them as more than just destructive characters but mostly lost and somewhat goofy. Additionally, the return of the previous two Spider-Men and the strange balance between each actor’s portrayal of the iconic hero kept the movie fun despite its focus on greater heroic themes: forgiveness, understanding and responsibility. 

Overall, while multidimensional storylines can be confusing and messy, Marvel and Sony have kept the Spider-Verse comical and exciting even when colliding a bunch of starkly different spider-worlds into one New York City. 

If you haven’t seen this amazing movie yet, definitely do. I am sorry for the slight spoilers but you chose to read this, and also there’s a lot more I could have spoiled. 😉

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