By Sheldon Gomes
In 2002, the world was sent into a frenzy as arguably the most popular comic book superhero made his live-action movie debut in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the wall-crawler was beloved by many and broke records, becoming the first movie to ever top 100 million dollars at the box office in its opening weekend.
Fast forward to today after two divisive Andrew Garfield movies, followed by a deal to get the hero introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most comic book lovers have been satisfied with Tom Holland’s take on the character, but fans of Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and Maguire’s “Spider-Man” franchises were seeking more after less than stellar conclusions to their respective runs.
Enter “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” quite possibly the most ambitious superhero movie of all time. After Spider-Man is revealed to be Peter Parker by Mysterio, he is unable to separate the mask from the student, and his life quickly spirals into chaos. Although the murder charges brought against him are quickly cleared by a “really good lawyer,” Peter still faces the challenge of moving on to the next chapter of his life as the controversy surrounding his alter ego looms over him and his friends.
With seemingly no other options, Peter turns to Doctor Strange to try and undo the work of Mysterio. However, things do not go as planned and the Multiverse is unknowingly unleashed.
With all the multiversal threats, Holland’s Spider-Man faces an interesting dilemma. He could either follow Doctor Strange’s instructions to send the villains back to their respective universes, where they just so happened to be on the verge of death, or he could offer these villains a second chance.
In making the decision to ultimately stick to his guns as the helpful friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, we see Peter make some reckless decisions along the way, but there is something refreshing about his naive optimism. Seeing Peter be so willing to try the absolute best he can to help, no matter how crazy or dangerous it may be, encapsulates everything fans love about Spider-Man.
And of course witnessing Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx and Willem Dafoe all return as villains from the previous Spider-Man franchises was surreal, with Dafoe turning in his most terrifying performance as the Green Goblin, the main villain in the film.
The inclusion of past villains and references to their previous franchises felt less like typical fan service, and more like a love letter to the fans for taking the journey through Spider-Man’s many cinematic adventures.
Holland delivers a spectacular performance in the film. Perhaps one of the most invigorating scenes comes when Peter’s spider sense alerts him to the threat that the Goblin presents. It is such an abrupt and tense build up from Peter’s perspective and Holland absolutely nails it.
This also feels like the first high stakes Spider-Man movie in the MCU thus far and the first time that Holland’s Spider-Man is challenged on both an emotional and physical level. There are some brutal action sequences and challenging moments that stray away from the lighthearted nature of the universe and force Peter to alter his approach, something that critics of the MCU’s Spider-Man have been dying for.
Jon Watts, the director of the film, allowed fans to witness Holland’s Spider-Man mature right in front of their eyes as he embarks on a new journey for himself by the films end, returning to the grounded roots of Peter Parker that many have clamored for in the universe. But he also provided audiences with a lasting memory, a moment that is just too amazing to even put into words. Any concerns that people may have had about Watts overcrowding the movie with so many elements, which is a mistake that plagued the Spider-Man movies prior, were put to rest by Watts’ final product which was no small accomplishment.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is an all-around fantastic experience. It gave us something interesting and different tonally for Holland’s Spidey while also evoking some next level nostalgia. It is hard not to be excited about what lies ahead for the MCU’s Spider-Man as there could still be some lasting effects from the multiverse spilling out: something “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” will surely touch on. But in terms of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this is a virtually unmissable installment in the Marvel Studios lineup.
Peter (Tom Holland) tries to deflect a pumpkin bomb thrown by Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe)
Photo Courtesy: Sony Pictures