Movie Review – “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (SPOILERS!)
With the end of Phase 3, MCU completed the stories for almost all of its A tier superheroes, amongst which Captain America (Steve Rogers), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor and somewhat of Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) and Hawkeye (Clint Barton). Defeating Thanos after 10 years of build up ended the contracts of the actors, which portrayed them on the big screen. “Avengers: Endgame”, was a proper sendoff for most of these beloved characters. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans will forever be Iron Man and Captain America. The official last movie of Phase 3 was “Spider-Man: Far From Home”.
This ended the story of the main universe of the MCU, known as Earth-199999. Thus a new “big bad guy” must emerge, but this time it won’t be on just Universe level, but on Multiverse one. “Loki” TV Series, which I failed to review, started touching on the topic and Phase 4 will be all about unfolding it. “Black Widow” starring Natasha was meant to be within Part 3, but due to Covid and post production issues, it landed on Phase 4. The first official movie of Phase 4 was “Eternals”.
So who will be the new “big bad guy”. That will be Galactus! The latter is a celestial, which instead of creating worlds, devours them. He “feeds” on all things living and is third in “strenght” rank within Marvel. His story will probably unfold within the next 10 or something years. With the acquirement of Fox’s “Fantastic 4” and “X-Men”, Disney laid the ground for the Multiverse. As within the MCU, there were none of these IP’s (Intellectual Property), they will be developed within separate universes and then introduced together. The first movie that touched on the Multiverse was “Spider-Man: No Way Home”.
After some debacle between Disney and Sony for the profits of the Spider-Man movie this latest instalment almost didn’t see green light. It was hacked in mid production and it took Tom Holland and the fans to “persuade” both studios to make the movies. And it worked, the movie was announced and with little delay, released before Christmas 2021. So let’s see how it performed and if it is really worth the hype created?
Once again Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker (Spider-Man). His portrayal of the beloved hero is by far the best, when we talk about the past movies. Zendaya returns as MJ (his love interest) and Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds (hist best friend and “the guy in the chair”). They are accompanied by Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Steven Strange (the snarky magician or the Sorcerer Supreme). After Jake Gyllenhaal disclosed Spider-Man’s secret identity to the world and made sure he was blamed for the drone strike in London, everything collapsed for Peter Parker. His secret identity was what made the double life possible. His image influenced all his friends and destroyed their dreams, as they were seen as his accomplices. This, Peter decided to ask Dr. Strange, if he could craft a spell, to make everyone forget that he was Spider-Man, well not everyone. Strange of course took it as a challenge and performed the spell, which got little wrong along the way. From this on further, there are SPOILERS!!!!
Instead of making everyone forget, the spell “summoned” everyone that knew Spider-Man’s real identity from the Multiverse. And here comes the fun part. Some of the most iconic recent villains are reintroduced. From the Raimi trilogy we have Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman. From “The Amazing Spider-Man” we have Rhys Ifans as The Lizard and Jamie Foxx as Electro. And of course alongside them return Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield .
The Sam Raimi trilogy was the first iteration of Spider-Man on the big screen. Tobey Maguire was the first and will always be remembered as such. It was almost identical to the animation series at the time. It was a commercial hit at the time, with the first and second movie seen as masterpieces and classics. It was originally supposed to be not three, but four movies. Venom, had to be in the third, while Sandman and The Hobgoblin in the fourth. However, due to Sony’s pressure all was shoved in one movie. And it was something, to say the least. It was rushed, comical and with very bad acting. Topher Grace gave up his role in “That ’70s Show” in order to star in the movie as Eddie Brock/Venom. This movie destroyed a lot of careers.
Then in 2012, the franchise was rebooted under the name “The Amazing Spider-Man”. It came in two movies, but planned originally as three. Andrew Garfield played the main role there. The first movie was received with mixed reviews. The second one however sank at the box office and for a second time in several years buried Spider-Man’s movie appearance. The movies were messy with tons of subplots and underwhelming acting. While the Raimi trilogy was more comic like, these movies tried to take themselves too seriously and it didn’t work.
That is not to say, that they are bad. They were just not true to the Marvel version. Thus when Tom Holland took the mantle and entered the MCU, everybody loved him. He was perfect. However, Sony do still have the rights, so why not introduce the Multiverse and alongside it, both the previews Spider-Mans and some of their most iconic villains. From all of the listed above, Electro was by far the worst. Not true to the comic in both vision and performance. Here however, they serve him justice. He looks perfect. The others were quite good, so they didn’t need overhauls. So once all the villains arrive, Strange sends Holland’s Parker to gather them up and lock them in cells. Once done, he decides to reverse the spell and send them back to their respective universes. Peter however, disagrees. Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) persuades him, that they can be saved as returning them as they are will most likely result in their deaths. Peter agrees and imprisons Strange in the Mirror Dimension, in order to help the poor souls. He manages to do that for Octavius, using a Stark Deus Ex Machine ofc. He creates a new chip for him, with which he manages to return control over the arms. Before he continued however, Electro, Sandman and The Goblin changed their minds and tried to escape, turning the apartment building in which May and Peter resided into pebbles. All of that resulted in the Goblin, killing Aunt May. And here is perhaps my one and only issue with the movie. It turned out, that in this universe there were no Uncle Ben at all. Aunt May plays that role here and of course at her deathbed she says the most annoying words existing in comic book history “With great power, comes great responsibility!”. Hearing this is a movie about Spider-Man is like seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents die for the thousand time. It is annoying and unnecessary. Why they choose to do it now is beyond my understanding. Okay, they wanted to kill the character, fine by me. But at least they could used different words. I literally rolled my eyes at a scene that was extremely emotional and powerful. Truly, the death of Ben in the comics is what makes Spider-Man the person he is. Those words are his moto and as such drive him forward.
Her performance in this franchise was great. She was the right May. Kind, cheerful and lovable. She was the world to Peter. Sending her off was a truly powerful moment. Here is where Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield made their entrance, helping Holland’s Peter to move forward, as they both went through this and much more. The moment all the Spider-Man’s meet up was pure joy. Looked a lot like what “Spider-Man: Into the Spider verse” was, but those two are iconic and they are the legacy, especially Tobey Maguire ‘s . Thus they decide to team up and create cures for all the villains. After some heartwarming talk, in which the audience for the first time hear how the Peters lived to what happened to them in their movies for the first time, they lure the villains to a point and one by one deliver to them their cures. That immediately returns their sanity. Andrew Garfield manages to save MJ and finally forgives himself for not being able to save his true love. To be honest, as his Spider-Man didn’t really showed much, it was kind of sad seeing him as the “looser” of the three. Sadly, the bad portrayal was mostly Sony’s fault. In the end Holland’s Spider-Man faces The Green Goblin in 1 to 1 fight and lets all his anger on him. On the verge to kill him, Tobey Maguire swooped in to stop him saying that “We are not like that. That is not what we do!”. The Goblin stabs him, but the other two manage to deliver his cure, releasing Norman Osborn from the influence of The Goblin. His look, realizing what he’s done was truly sad. Willem Dafoe ‘s acting range is beyond comprehension. After all of that, Strange realizes that he can’t contain the spell any longer, which opens the Multiverse, starting to bring in everyone who knows who Spider-Man is. Holland’s Peter decides on a very tough decision to go through with everyone forgetting who he, even his friends. Saying goodbye to them, as the spell is completed was also very sad. MJ going from just kissed her true love, to wondering why there are teras in her eyes was a great moment.
Of course everybody is sent back to their respective universes as well. Holland then has the choice to tell MJ the truth once again or leave her be, and he deicides on the latter. The movie ends on a high note. With Peter starting a new life, continuing to be the “Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”. As a final thought, I want to say that I loved the movie very much. It was both action packed and very emotional, further developing the beloved characters. If “Eternals” was a classic MCU formula movie, this one was not. Except literally one moment, everything else was perfect. I recommend it to all Spider-Man fans. Also the end-credit scene was pretty awesome. Wondering how Venom will enter the MCU? Stay tuned for that. Spider-Man is an enormous IP with a lot of possibilities, if explored. Let’s hope that Sony and Disney will continue their collaboration. Ah I almost forgot, we finally got introduced to Matt Murdock by non other than Charlie Cox. You may remember him from the Netflix Daredevil series and The Defenders. So yeah, The Punisher is also probably lurking around the corner. What an era we live in, seeing all of our favorite comic book heroes on the big screen. But most of all, they are done right!