To say that MARVEL’s Phase 4 has been an absolute mess would be an understatement. While having some strong opening TV shows like Wandavision, Loki, and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier; the movie side of things has been hit and miss. Black Widow was a decent film if plagued by Phase 4’s overuse of character replacement syndrome (Which we see in more recent and upcoming TV shows and films like Hawkeye and Thor: Love and Thunder), while Shang-Chi was a weird but enjoyable mess… And the less said about Eternals the better. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home shows that this side-trip into the multiverse is going to be a lot of fun, and possibly better than the main Phase 4 storylines will ever be.
Title: Spider-Man: No Way Home Production Company: Columbia Pictures & Marvel Studios Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing Directed by: Jon Watts Produced by: Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal Written by: Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Benedict Wong, Tony Revolori, Marisa Tomei, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire Based on: Spider-Man by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Release dates: December 17, 2021 Running time: 148 Minutes
Please… Scooby-Doo This Shit!
After Quentin Beck framed Peter Parker for his murder during the Europe attack and outed him as Spider-Man to the public, Parker flees from an angry crowd with his girlfriend MJ and returns to his apartment, reuniting with his aunt May and Happy Hogan, the latter two who have just broken up. With the apartment surrounded by the Department of Damage Control, Parker, MJ, Aunt May, and Ned Leeds are interrogated but their charges are lifted by lawyer Matt Murdock. Parker, MJ, and Leeds return to high school but their university applications are rejected due to the recent controversy.
Parker consults with Stephen Strange in the Sanctum Sanctorum, asking him to cast a spell to make people forget he is Spider-Man. Despite Wong’s warning of the consequences that could incur, Strange casts the spell anyway. However, the spell is damaged when Peter insists on Strange to let everybody before his outing knows his identity. Parker goes to the Alexander Hamilton Bridge and tries to convince an MIT administrator to accept Leeds’ and MJ’s applications. Suddenly, the bridge is attacked by Otto Octavius, who rips Parker’s nanotechnology from his Iron Spider suit, causing it to bond with his mechanical tentacles. Upon discovering that this isn’t the Peter Parker he had previously fought, Octavius has his robotic arms disabled by the nanotechnology, before being captured and placed in a holding cell in the Sanctum Sanctorum, along with Curt Connors who has been captured by Strange. With the help of MJ and Leeds, Parker decides to help capture any other possible “visitors” from the multiverse. They find and capture Max Dillon and Flint Marko.
Elsewhere, Norman Osborn is retrieved after going to a F.E.A.S.T. building seeking help. Strange wants to send the villains back to their respective universes and meet their fates. However, Parker wants to cure and help them before sending them back to prevent their deaths. He frees them and confines Strange in the Mirror Dimension after a brief fight, taking the villains to Hogan’s apartment. Parker successfully cures Octavius by using Stark Industries technology to replace his broken inhibitor chip. When cures are developed for Osborn and Dillon, the Green Goblin persona takes over Osborn before the cure can be administered. Goblin then manipulates Dillon into removing the device that Parker put on him to cure him and, despite the best efforts of Parker and Octavius, the other four escape. In the ensuing battle, May is critically injured by the Goblin, with Parker unable to save her as she succumbs to her wounds. Fearing the worst after no contact from Parker, MJ and Leeds accidentally learn how to open portals using Strange’s sling ring, which they use in an attempt to find Parker, only to summon an alternative Peter Parker, followed by another.
Leeds and MJ find their Parker who is comforted by MJ, after learning of May’s death. He then meets the other Spider-Men, who share their own stories of losing loved ones and encourage him to fight in May’s honor. They cooperate on curing the remaining villains and lure them to the Statue of Liberty. Leeds and MJ protect the original bind spell by Strange as the Spider-Men battle their enemies together. As the three Spider-Men struggle, they decide to plan a coordinative attack on the villains. They are later joined by Octavius, where they manage to defeat and cure Connors, Dillon, and Marko after a lengthy battle with Dillon reconciling with his own universe’s Peter and is encouraged to let go of his villainous tendencies.
Amidst the battle, Leeds frees Strange from the Mirror Dimension, who seizes control of the spell and works to protect the current universe as the barriers begin to break down between the other universes. Meanwhile, a wrathful Parker overpowers and brutally fights the Goblin as revenge for May’s death. He is stopped short of killing the Goblin by the Parker from that same universe, who was stabbed by his sworn enemy off-guard. As the Goblin redirects the blame for May’s death on him, Parker injects him with the cure, restoring him to a regretful Osborn. To prevent further catastrophe and at Parker’s request, Strange fixes the spell, sending the alternate Spider-Men and their villains back to their respective universes, while making everyone forget Parker’s existence. Later, Parker tries to reconnect with MJ and Leeds, but cannot bring himself to do it. Parker visits May’s grave, joined by Hogan, now oblivious to his identity, and vows to carry on. Parker creates a new suit from scratch to resume his independent heroics.
In a mid-credits scene, the universe-displaced Eddie Brock and his symbiote companion Venom sit at a bar and talk with the bartender about other superhumans and the Blip. While pondering how to “protect” this new world, the duo is swiftly transported back to their universe by Strange’s spell, unknowingly leaving a part of the symbiote on the counter. There is no after-credits “scene” but a trailer for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man: Given that this is the “main” Spider-Man of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it felt like he was almost a background character in his own movie. Sure, we’re still dealing with the fallout of Spider-Man: Far From Home, but at the same time, this Spider-Man feels like he is just a gathering machine. The whole spell thing does nothing to solve the problems, only making things worse when you think about it. From an acting standpoint, Holland shows that he still has a lot to learn as his performance is overshadowed by everyone from Cumberbatch to Molina and Dafoe, which doesn’t help with the whole “background character” feeling I got from Holland here.
Zendaya as Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson: While Spider-Man: No Way Home tries to make MJ a more proactive character, making her stand out from other versions of the character, she is just there because the group works together. Zendaya brings her usual dry-wit and negative thought processes to the character that she did before, which seems more realistic given the events the character has been through. However, with the change in the timeline, she suddenly becomes happier and doesn’t follow through with her promise to work things out once again which leaves the character in limbo.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange: Love Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange once again, combining a weird combination of fun and seriousness into the character that has made him the perfect man to cast in the role. It was a shame that Strange is pushed aside into the mirror dimension for a majority of Spider-Man: No Way Home, but given how easily he could have screwed up Peter’s plans for the villains it is understandable to sideline such a powerful character.
Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds:
Ned in Spider-Man: No Way Home is just a waste of every moment that he is on screen. With the exception of one moment where he helps Peter find a possible location for Green Goblin, he does next to nothing. Sure, there are the moments where Ned accidentally opens the portals that allow the other two Spider-Man into one location so they can all get together, it was an accident, so it doesn’t count. There needed to be something more for Batalon to do with the character, but I think that is something that will come in the future, if they follow up things properly… Which they won’t since they erased those events… FUCK!
Jon Favreau as Harold “Happy” Hogan: Useless. Pointless. Moving on. Sorry, Favreau, I love your work, but they gave you nothing in Spider-Man: No Way Home and that’s not your fault.
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon / Electro:
It was pretty cool to see how changing universes actually caused Electro to change his look, basing it upon the fact that the electricity in the Holland universe is different from his home one, so when he becomes human again, it’s altered his look. Honestly, I wanted to see more out of this character once he gets his hands on the Arc Reactor, seeing as it is meant to be an unlimited source of power, which could have done a lot for the character in both positive and negative ranges. Foxx does a great job in Spider-Man: No Way Home, with his ending moments being pretty cool with Garfield’s Spider-Man.
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn / Green Goblin: Holy split personality! Willem Dafoe should be up for an Oscar for his work as Green Goblin in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Being a really good actor who does creepy really well, and also has the professionalism to just slide back into the role after being gone from it for ? years, Dafoe just steals every scene he is in. As Green Goblin, you can see that he is really wanting to test this new Peter Parker he has met and see if he would do what his Peter never could. You could almost make a case that if they wrote Spider-Man: No Way Home differently, that this whole multiverse thing was a plan that he had all along… The performance is THAT good. He is one of the best villains of all time really given the time to shine… and get away from that horrible Power Rangers-looking mask shit.
Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus:
The man, the myth, the meme… Seeing Molina return as Doc Ock was an amazing thing to see. Much like Dafoe, Molina slipped right back into the role like he never left it, embodying both the villain that is Doc Ock and the kind man that is Otto Octavius. Out of all the villains who could have been cured early on, it was good to see Otto being the one to be cured first, finishing the amazing acting work that Molina put into this version of the character from Spider-Man 2, a fitting end for the character.
Benedict Wong as Wong: A cameo at best, but since he is doing things behind the scenes (as seen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) and has a new role as Sorceror Supreme, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t be spending much time in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Tony Revolori as Eugene “Flash” Thompson:
It was cool to see Thompson back again, however, he was not needed in Spider-Man: No Way Home at all. All he did was be a pain in the ass and give one piece of information. You could have replaced him with anyone else and still got the plot moving.
Marisa Tomei as May Parker:
Tomei as May Parker is one of the best versions of the character that I’ve seen. Given I wasn’t a fan of a young Aunt May in Spider-Man: Homecoming, when she had her moment in Spider-Man: No Way Home, I was in tears. This version of Aunt May is one that was kind, understanding, loving, and a free spirit… aka the closest to the actual Aunt May to ever be put on film or any other medium since the comics. Seeing her compassion and kindness not only to Peter but to the villains too, was something that deserves a lot more praise than what it’s been getting. A true tribute to Tomei’s acting and ability.
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man: I’m not too sure, or maybe my memory of The Amazing Spider-Man movies is just bad, but was Garfield’s version of Peter Parker such a whining, depressive, little bitch? Just about every moment he was talking I wanted to just slap his face and tell him to man the fuck up! Maguire’s Peter Parker went through so much more than Garfield’s version and he is just fine, overcoming his personal demons after the events of his movies, but Garfield’s version keeps acting like everything happened yesterday in his timeline. While I enjoyed his redemption moment, I feel his character was the one to be sacrificed to the altar of emo kids.
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man: Until this moment, I never knew how much I would enjoy seeing Maguire return to being Spider-Man, especially since they didn’t try to make him look younger through CGI or anything like that. This version of Spider-Man has a lot more years on his body and soul than the other two and they allowed him to show it. Not only was Peter a wiser person, using the events of his movies as learning events, but also showed that years of fights and web-swinging have also taken their toll.
Rhys Ifans as Curt Connors / Lizard:
To be honest, there isn’t much to write about here. Out of all the villains, Lizard was pushed so far into the background that sometimes I forgot he was even involved in Spider-Man: No Way Home. It is a real shame since I would have liked to see Lizard disappear away from the movie for a bit, maybe left as a forgotten part, only to appear in a post-credits scene showing he didn’t get sent back and could be a future villain.
Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko / Sandman:
Another shame in character writing here. I was happy to see that it was the Flint Marco from the END of Spider-Man 3 appear, lending a hand and protecting Spider-Man from Electro. However, the sudden turn to join the villains comes out of nowhere and never had a satisfying explanation. The bigger issue here, I think, was that Church comes across as only being available either from a distance or for such a short time that he was doing everything through voice work in post-production, thus his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home either being the human/sand form and his final shots looking like they were chroma-keyed in after the fact.
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson: The Spider-verse’s resident loudmouth is back and is played by the ONLY man who is worthy of playing the character. Jameson is one of those characters that I wanted to see more out of in Spider-Man: No Way Home, given that he is the only flaming the fans of hate against Spider-Man. Maybe do something along the lines of the recent comic book version of the character, who discovers the good the Spider-Man does and comes around to being a cheerleader instead of a hatemonger… Or at least a mid-credits scene of the Holland JJJ meeting the Maguire JJJ.
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock:
He’s only around for one scene, but it’s good to see Daredevil back and relinked into the MCU. Shame there was no team-up here… But maybe we’ll get one in the future.
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom: Yo! They did my boy dirty! After seeing Eddie/Venom cross over in the post-credits scene in Venom: Let There be Carnage, I was excited to see Venom get mixed up in these events, if only for a moment. Instead, we find Venom, drunk, trying to make sense of the MCU before returning to his own world. BOO-URNS!! At least we now have a little something leftover in the MCU that I hope get’s worked into future Spider-Man films *wink wink*
The Multiverse is crazy…
I’m going to say it straight out: Spider-Man: No Way Home is a GREAT film and I feel really bad that anyone has to go through reading the whole plot in order to get to this part of the review. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a film that needs to be seen and enjoyed in a cinema. While a couple of acts at the beginning of Spider-Man: No Way Home focus more on the aftermath of Spider-Man: Far From Home with the MCU version of Peter Parker dealing with the fallout of Mysterio outing his identity, leading to a ONE MORE DAY/BRAND NEW DAY situation (Which personally I HATED that storyline in the comics and I’m not a fan on the films doing it), but when the villains begin to show up and actually act like villains, things pick up in a good way to the point where you’ll forget that you have snacks available to eat during Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Speaking of the villains, these guys are the highlight of Spider-Man: No Way Home from the first moment Doc Ock appears on the screen to The Green Goblin kneeling awaiting a death blow, these guys command the screen like the professionals they are. A lot of this has to go to the top-level casting of the villains and the experience they have in the movie industry, it almost overshadows the younger actors, especially Holland. It’s almost criminal (excuse the pun) that the villains steal the movie from the main actors, but it’s something that I’m really glad to see since some of these actors haven’t played these roles in over 10 years but just slip back into the roles like they never left. Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe are the prime examples here, with their characters getting the most screentime and growth in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Another thing I’ll praise is the visual effects. As always, when you involve Doctor Strange in any movie, there’s a good chance that you’ll get some really weird magical effects thrown into the mix. Spider-Man: No Way Home is no different. With the scene (shown in the screenshot below) where Spider-Man and Doctor Strange battle over the cube, we get to see the mirror world once again, and it was more interesting this time around since not only do we get to see Doctor Strange do his thing with manipulation of the realm but also Spider-Man using his brain (and maths) also, making it interesting to see how the two styles mesh in this mirror realm.
The final thing I want to praise is the use of costumes in Spider-Man: No Way Home. While we get to see 3 suits from the current Spider-Man universe, it was good to see the older Maguire and Garfield suits back again… Though I would have liked to have seen Maguire back in black for some reason (Maybe since there was more focus on Spider-Man 3 era stuff). The best thing here was, once again, the villains. While some of the characters looked somewhat like themselves from their respective movies, it was nice to see a lot of them get “upgrades” that brought them more in line with their traditional comic book designs. I cheered seeing Green Goblin in a Green/Purple combination and Electro getting his funny lightning blot mask design from the comics, showing that traditional looks can fit into modern movie ideas. A bonus point with Peter donning the Steve Ditko original suit at the end of the movie.
A Danger to Our Universe…
While Spider-Man: No Way Home has been getting a lot of praise as a “perfect film”, there were a few things that really got to me as I reflect upon watching the film.
There are some things like tiny moments or questions that either go unanswered or just skip completely. For example, Maguire’s organic webs. While it was addressed kinda, there was no real explanation as to how it works or why it was a thing. Spider-Man: No Way Home treated the moment as a bad joke (which it honestly is) and then thrown aside. Another thing was Sandman’s appearance and attitude. When he first appears in Spider-Man: No Way Home, we can tell that this is the Flint Marco from the END of Spider-Man 3, where he is remorseful and actually helps Peter, only to turn on Peter for the sole reason that he’s not the Peter he knows from his universe. This makes no sense at all. Also, why did Sandman stay in his human/sand form for the whole movie? We know he can turn back into Flint, which he did in his own movie, but he stays in this weird form for the whole movie only to return to his human form once cured. It doesn’t make much sense from a direction or story point.
Speaking of the cures, I understand that the point of the story in Spider-Man: No Way Home was that it’s all about second chances, but it really slowed Spider-Man: No Way Home down in a bad way through the second act. Almost everyone in the cinema could see the betrayal of Green Goblin coming from a mile away, but it was delayed so much that it sucks a lot of the pacing from the film overall. Then the cures themselves really didn’t seem like a thing that needed to be done at all, since no matter what happens in Spider-Man: No Way Home, it doesn’t change the outcomes of the movies that have already happened.
While I did have a huge amount of praise for the acting of the villains in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the one thing that started to get to me was Andrew Garfield’s version of Spider-Man. I know that there is no really happy version of Peter Parker in any universe, but Garfield’s Spider-Man just got so fucking annoying with how depressive and self-doubting he was. Even after a pep talk from Maguire, Garfield completely no-sells everything and goes on about how drab and shit his life is. It was really annoying to the point where I was hoping that someone would just bitch-slap him back to reality.
Then there is the McGuffin bullshit with the ONE MORE DAY/BRAND NEW DAY reference. To completely remove all references and knowledge of Peter Parker from everyone’s lives feels like a cop-out from the writers to leave things open should SONY‘s relationship with MARVEL/Disney fall apart, but overall it hurt its own universe in a way that doesn’t make sense. To remove PETER PARKER from existence means events from Captain America: Civil War through Avengers: Endgame are destroyed too. So having Happy show up at May’s grave makes no sense as Spider-Man never meets Tony Stark (Tony found Peter and tracked him to his home remember), so Spider-Man never fights Captain America and never joins The Avengers. So either the writers didn’t proofread what they created, or just gave up and hoped no one would notice the huge amount of plot holes that version of the spell would create.
Finally, all I’m going to say is THE BALLS of the writers here for killing off Aunt May… She was the cool, hot one, damn it!
Spider-Man: No Way Home looks and feels like the end of a story that has been going on for a while, a great payoff for sitting through Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. While I personally see a lot of plot holes and faults coming from the spell used to fix everything, it seems a lot of people are willing to forgive that in order to keep Spider-Man: No Way Home as a great film in their eyes, which is it. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a good film that brought everyone we wanted to see (and more) together for a fun action movie that shows that the multiverse is gearing up to be an amazing ride.
Spider-Man: No Way Home does something that many thought could not happen, bringing 3 eras of Spider-Man films into one spectacular event without it coming across as fan-fiction garbage or showing any favoritism. While not the perfect film that people are hyping it up to be Spider-Man: No Way Home is still one of the must-see movies from the recent phase of the Marvel cinematic universe… or any other universe.
Villains getting comic accurate “upgrades”
Montoya and Dafoe are standout performances
Good to see all three Spider-Man characters together
Garfield’s Spider-Man is just too much of a downer
So many plot holes in both Spider-Man: No Way Home and the new timeline it created