Spider-Man: No Way Home is the third Spider-Man movie to star Tom Holland, and the latest release in Phase 4 of the MCU. With a trailer that left many fans unable to contain their excitement at the return of a number of familiar faces from Spider-Man past, expectations have been sky high, and the end result is one of the best Marvel films to date.
The film jumps straight into the events that played out at the end of Far From Home, with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) revealing the true identity of Spider-Man to the world. Seeing the reveal in the middle of Times Square, Peter (Tom Holland) and MJ (Zendaya) flee to the safety of his home, where Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are in the process of breaking up. With national media attention and outcry at the reveal of Peter’s alter ego, he, along with MJ, May and Ned (Jacob Batalon), are arrested by a Federal agency for their role in Mysterio’s death.
They’re released from custody thanks to a familiar face, and Peter, his friends and family are left battling the fallout, with half of the world believing he is a less than friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. After their college applications are rejected due to their involvement with Spider-Man, Peter seeks the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in using magic to make the world forget Spider-Man’s true identity. Strange begins to cast a spell and when realising it would cause his closest friends and family to forget his identity too, Peter causes the spell to fracture and break, and Strange is forced to contain it without finishing the spell.
On his way to speak to a college admissions officer, Peter is confronted by Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). They fight and on removing Peter’s mask, Doc Ock realises Peter isn’t the Peter he’s looking for. After containing Octavius, Peter and Octavius are transported by Doctor Strange to the underground dungeon beneath the Sanctum Sanctorum. Strange reveals that while not completed, the spell has broken through into the multiverse and has pulled through anyone who knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. It’s up to Peter and his friends to capture them so they can be returned to their own universe, and they’re soon faced with a number of dangerous and familiar faces including the likes of Elektro (Jamie Foxx), the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans).
No Way Home is, quite frankly, a spectacular epic of a film. To be able to bring so many characters together into one film is something we know Marvel can do well, but to bring in characters from completely different versions and reboots of other Spider-Man film series is a whole other level. It’s genius, and it works so well. Seeing all of these characters together on screen interacting with some very witty, funny and even heart-warming dialogue made me feel incredibly nostalgic and very happy. There’s a couple of moments of cheesiness, but it didn’t matter as the whole thing was just so entertaining and enjoyable. For a film that’s on for 2.5 hours, it never got boring and there was never a dull moment. It never lets up and by the end, I wondered where all that time had gone.
Everything you’d expect from a Marvel film is here, from the clever, sharp script to the incredible CGI – the de-ageing effects used on Dafoe and Molina is faultless to the point I forgot they don’t still look like that. It was also great to see more from Doctor Strange and step into his world again. It feels like a very long time since his first film (5 years to be precise) and to be back in the world of magic and mirror dimensions, albeit briefly, has been a wonderful stepping stone for the sequel being released in 2022.
As well as being very fun and action-packed, this is also filled with a surprising amount of emotion. Tom Holland gets to exercise a lot more range than he has in any of the other Marvel films previously and he does a brilliant job in bringing an emotional, heart-warming side to this film. Never before have I felt such a range of emotions watching a Marvel film, not even at Infinity War or Endgame.
I could start poking holes in the fact that some of the returning characters are given short shrift and seem wasted, or that the end battle at the Statue of Liberty is a little clichéd. There’s also the fact that the whole multiverse storyline is just a lazy way to explain away plot holes, which technically it is, but so what? When it’s as entertaining as this, I’m not sure it matters.
No Way Home has pulled off the seemingly impossible and excelled with a crazy, almost meta storyline that could so easily have gone bad. An outstanding epic of a film that manages to be equal parts entertaining, heart-warming and nostalgic, it is by far the greatest Spider-Man instalment to date and also a big contender for the best Marvel film of all time.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!