A cynical nostalgia fueled cash-grab or a love letter to the movies of Spider-man past? Spider-Man: No Way Home is both as characters from the other standalone Spider-man movies start appearing in Tom Holland’s MCU Spider-man franchise after a spell by Doctor Strange goes terribly wrong. It’s a crowded movie set in an already crowded universe and the fact that it works this well is probably its greatest achievement.
When we last saw Spider-man in Far From Home his identity was revealed to the world by Mysterio. Suddenly being one of the most famous people in the world Peter Parker’s life is turned upside down. This results in him and his friends not being admitted to MIT. A school they all want to go to, including Flash who does get in. Desperate for a solution he turns to Doctor Strange who conjures up a spell that makes everybody ever forget that Peter Parker is Spider-man. Details on how the spell works are never given. What does it do with aired news reports or even Flash’s book?
But by interrupting Strange, Peter messes up the spell and a portal to the multiverse is opened bringing back several characters from past movies. The consensus is that these are all people who know that Peter Parker is Spider-man. Yet even Electro appears as does another character in the end credits who both don’t know Spider-man’s true identity.
Funny enough there is an easy solution to the problem of all these villains appearing in the MCU universe. Doctor Strange has a box which he can use to send all these characters back to their own universes. But one thing these characters have in common is that they were transported just before dying in the past movies. Sending them back would therefor kill them.
This is something Peter doesn’t want to have in his conscience and he wants to figure out a different way, though Strange argues it is simply their fate. This is true, but if we would go with his reasoning there would be no movie. So Peter traps Strange in his own mirror dimension, hides the box and comes up with a plan to cure all the villains before sending them back so that they can change their destiny once they are back in their own universe.
The problem with villains is that you can’t really trust them.
When I watched Spider-Man: No Way Home it had a score ofbased on
The biggest success is the inclusion of no less than five villains from previous movies. In previous Spider-man movies the inclusion of multiple villains did not work. Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 3 collapsed under the convolution of shoehorning in Venom in the final act. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-man 2 had terrible villains in Green Goblin, Electro and Rhino.
But because these villains have been established in those movies, bringing them back here doesn’t require writing origin stories for each character. This is the same approach Marvel has been using for 20+ movies in a row now and it’s an approach they perfected. By now their movies not only require you have seen a lot of other movies from the same studio, they also require you to have seen movies that up until now had nothing to do with the MCU.
It’s a bold choice, but as a comic book reader since the late 80s I have of course seen every Marvel movie they have been putting out since 1986 when Howard the Duck was released. I grew up on terrible Marvel movies like Captain America and I was an adolescent when they started to make good Marvel movies with Blade, X-men and Spider-Man.
But if somebody has never seen a Marvel movie, or not even the Spider-man movies from the 00s this person is going to be really confused and will not understand much of what’s going on here and why other people are excited to see Tobey Maguire walking through a portal into this movie.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is certainly a fan-pleasing movie, but it does have its faults. For a movie of this scale the quality of the CGI work is at some times insufficient. This is most notable when it comes to the full CGI-character of the Lizard and the movements of the fully animated Spider-men which reminded me of CG-work from the early 00s.
The plot has also a lot of gaping holes which occasionally provide you with more questions than answers. Take the whole “curing the villain” aspect of the plot. The idea is that the three Peter Parkers combined will create cures and antidotes for all of the five villains. Fixing Doc Ock’s chip is one thing, but curing Goblin’s schizophrenia another. It should come to you as no surprise that they not only succeed, but do so in the span of one all-nighter.
With Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts delivers the first totally fulfilling Spider-man trilogy. He even manages to end the movie on a satisfying down note. A bold choice, but in line with the world of Spider-man in which the hero doesn’t always get the girl and loved ones sometime die. The ending also provides Marvel and Sony with a way out of the MCU should they choose to. They have the option of removing Spider-man from the MCU and back into his own movies and self contained universe or keeping him in the MCU. Seeing the box-office results I’m pretty sure which direction they’re going to take this character.