By: Gabriel Besecker
Since the release of 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Marvel and Sony reportedly have had a live-action Spider-Verse film in the works, wanting to capitalize on the idea of using it for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. For a long time, this had only been a rumor, a guess, a hope that fans deeply wanted to be true as it could lead the way for an introduction of many Spider-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) along with their iconic villains and a wide variety of other fun things. Until early 2021, there had been little to no news on the film beyond the fact that it existed and had been slightly delayed due to COVID.
When all the teasers and trailers were finally released, to the cheers of Marvel fans everywhere, fans made countless edits, art pieces, posters, speculation videos, fake leaks, and even fake trailers in anticipation of its release. Throughout the marketing phase, fans went ballistic over every small detail or reveal, wanting to know what certain things meant or what else the movie had in store. Fans came up with a wide range of theories that covered everything, including the introduction of Mephisto, the exile of Peter from the MCU into the Sony Cinematic Universe, the inclusion of the Spider-Men from the Sam Raimi’s and Marc Webb’s cinematic universes, and the death of so many fan favorites.
Image of a fan theory regarding Spiderman No Way Home (2021)
Overall though, all fans 100% knew was that the main plot consisted of the fallout from a spell meant to make everyone forget Tom Holland’s Spider-Man’s secret identity, which causes villains from the Raimi and Webb Spider-Man universes to be pulled into the MCU. Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Jaime Foxx’s Electro, Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman, and Rhys Ifans’ Lizard were all set to return and face off against Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, fighting to take over this new world ripe with endless possibilities.
Still, there had been no word on the inclusion of Raimi’s and Webb’s Spider-Men, so rumors kept going wild. With the general premiere set for December 17th, fans anxiously waited to see what was in store for them. Now the question is, did it live up to the hype? How many of the rumors were true? And would this be the best Spider-Man film ever? And all for you, spoiler-free. You’re welcome.
Spiderman in Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)
Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of if not the most surreal movie experiences I’ve ever gone through. I watched it twice, and both times I never got bored. Looking around the theater, the audience was just as engaged and excited as I was. In both viewings, I remember everyone gasping, cheering in excitement, just happy to be there. Spider-Man: No Way Home exceeded a lot of its expectations and was a fantastic film in many regards. While it wasn’t perfect, it was a fun, comedic, and interesting romp with a lot going for it. It has interesting characters and character interactions, an engaging plot, fantastic visuals, and a pace that never feels overwhelming or boring, while also giving time for the audience to digest all that’s happening.
The film is very tightly paced, going from one plot point to the next quickly and efficiently. The movie’s 2 hour and 28 minute run time goes by quickly due to how well-structured it is. You will be engaged the entire time. It is a complete product and doesn’t feel like anything too major is missing. The timing of everything is spot-on. The villains are given reasonable time to re-establish themselves in the film and feel decently developed. At the beginning of the film, moments between Peter and his friends are well done and do not feel like fluff that would bore the audience, mainly because they contribute greatly to Holland’s Peter’s struggle.
The acting was spectacular and emotional, so much so that despite the wacky and over-the-top situations, you could still attach yourself to the characters and truly feel for all the hardships they go through. This is especially potent with Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei’s portrayal of the relationship between Peter Parker and Aunt May. Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin is also notable here; he portrays this menacing, insane monster well, rivaling Heath Ledger’s Joker for its accuracy to the comics and overall derangement. This is also helped by the writing being on point, with the dialogue balancing both realism and wit without making it cringe-worthy. Never in my life did I expect the new Electro to roast everyone in the film, but here it is, and it’s great. The interactions between characters are so well thought out and satisfying, especially among the myriad of villains, that you can feel the love the creators had for this film. The film was catered directly to the audience, ranging from references to popular memes from the other Spider-Man films to fun character interactions between people that you would never expect, but it made a notable effort to have those additions serve the plot and the characters well.
The action was also stellar throughout this film. The choreography made these scenes varied and interesting enough that you are always on the edge of your seat. While it was a CGI fest, there were enough scenes done practically that the film as a whole felt balanced. Plus, the CGI was well done, except for some shoddy compositing and character animation during the final fight, but the rest of the film more than makes up for it. Everything else looked pretty good for a Marvel film, especially compared to the awfulness of Black Widow’s CGI.
Willem Dafoe appearing as Green Goblin in the trailer for Spiderman: No Way Home (2021)
My favorite action scene had to be the final Statue of Liberty fight because of how well it balanced both a comedic and intense tone. Another great action scene was the fight at the condo because of how monster-like Dafoe’s Green Goblin was and how gritty and real the fight felt, much like the final fight in Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002). As a matter of fact, the cinematography throughout the film was diverse and fascinating, also taking cues from Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s films. It never felt repetitive and boring as there was always something that caught your eye but never distracted from the purpose of a scene. The scenes that involved Spider-Sense and that classic Raimi dolly-zoom really stood out, making you feel the unease that Peter does when his ability goes off. I especially loved the scene after the condo fight where Holland’s Spider-Man stood on a building as JumboTrons blared dramatic blue and pink lighting all over his face while in the rain, which was also replicated in one of the posters. It was a good film visually, but I just wish the final fight and some other spoiler-related scenes had a little more polish in some areas, especially in character modeling and animation (just a nitpick though).
Spiderman in Spiderman: No Way Home (2021)
As with any Marvel film, there are some plot conveniences or things that don’t add up, but they were so small and ignorable that they don’t hamper one’s enjoyment of the film. For example, when Doctor Strange messes up the spell, and it coincidentally brings previously recognizable villains, it felt a bit silly, but it led the way for great character writing, so it was not a big deal in my mind. For the plot to be interesting, there has to be some level of convenience, so while it’s strange that only the villains from other Spider-Man movies came through, it’s perfectly excusable because their being pre-established allows the movie to not feel bloated and to make what the film does with them infinitely more engaging. This bloatedness caused by the inclusion of so many villains was a factor that hurt other Spider-Man films like Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, so it’s a relief to see that the film was able to circumvent this issue.
Actually, the film did more than circumvent it. They proved that a movie with a cast and villain roster as big as this one could be both balanced and done exceedingly well. Everyone got enough time to shine to make their inclusion feel important. Plus, using pre-established villains only served to help this film keep its tight pacing. While Sandman and the Lizard had very small parts, Molina’s Doc Ock, Foxx’s Electro, and Dafoe’s Green Goblin were so well done as villains that they more than make up for it. Jacob Batalon’s Ned, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, Zendaya’s MJ, and Tomei’s Aunt May were given good arcs in this film that made them feel like actual characters and not just plot devices. Although they were small arcs, they still did enough to make these characters feel necessary and even added to Holland’s Peter Parker’s arc in a very substantial and even heartbreaking way.
Peter Parker (left), MJ (middle), and Ned (right)
Overall, this is a good Spider-Man film that I’d recommend to anyone who loves the character or superhero films in general. It does such a good job of mixing a bunch of different elements from a lot of different Spider-Man properties, including the PS4 Spider-Man game and the previous Spider-Man films, to make a film that is so unique, engaging, hilarious, hopeful, and ultimately bittersweet. All the complaints about the MCU’s Spider-Man being Iron Boy Junior, a side-character, or a poor adaptation of the character are completely dealt with and addressed in this film to create one of the best versions of this character. By the end of this film, Holland’s Spider-Man truly encapsulates the essence of what it means to be Spider-Man, and his sacrifice at the end is a good sign of the amazing character that we’ll see in future MCU movies, especially in the new college trilogy recently confirmed by Marvel. If you have the time, watch this movie and try your best not to get spoiled. Due to all the buzz, this is an experience that is best going into with very little knowledge so that you can get the most out of it as possible. All the joy, surprise, excitement, and love that has come out of watching this movie is something that I think everyone who loves Spider-Man needs to experience for themselves. Even if it is not perfect, this is the best experience I’ve ever had while watching a film, and I would give everything in the world to see it for the first time again.