By Christian DiMartino
Alright, warning you now: this is the one where I geek out.
Spider-Man: No Way Home has finally arrived, after months of talk and fan theories (none of which I will confirm today), the film has arrived. And I’ll just come out and say it: I adored this movie. Chances are, if you’ve been looking forward to this film for as long as the vast majority of us have, it’s going to deliver. If you love Spider-Man and anything Marvel, it’s going to deliver. It delivers in ways that I’m not going to discuss, but just know, I had a blast.
The film comes off of what is kind of a mixed bag of a year for Marvel. I enjoyed all of the Disney+ series’, like Hawkeye, Wandavision, and Loki (the latter of which plays a role in today’s movie). As for the movies, Black Widow was fine, Shang Chi had a great first half and then sort of became familiar, and Eternals was a dud. Sure, none of those movies were going to be as gargantuan as Avengers: Endgame, but they also didn’t try. Spider-Man: No Way Home is just as big as that, I’d say. It’s a huge deal, it’s going to be a huge deal, and if you feel comfortable doing so, I urge you to see this with a packed house. This way everyone can share the love together.
This marks the third of the Tom Holland-led Spider-Man films, following Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Both of those films are enjoyable, particularly the second one, yet at the same time they feel a little thin in the story department. It’s okay for a Marvel movie to just sort of chill out; not everything needs to be the end of the world. With those movies though, it seemed like they were building towards something, and taking their time doing it. Had I known this was what they were building towards, my patience might’ve been pushed aside.
Holland does a lovely job- he has from the beginning and with this film, he officially hits a home run. Yet my heart belongs to the Tobey Maguire/ Sam Raimi films of the 2000’s, and I don’t hesitate in saying that Spider-Man 2 is among the top five greatest comic book movies. Andrew Garfield was definitely the hottest of the Spider-Men, and his first Amazing Spider-Man movie is underrated. That said, when it comes to Spider-Man, like Batman, I’m all in. Having never picked up a comic book, I know the villains, I know the characters, I know the lore, I know the designs. There are Captain America people, there are Iron Man people. I love those guys, but Spidey is a my boy, and this movie is for us.
I’ll dive into the tiniest smidge of the plot, before briefly talking about what makes this movie so enjoyable. Again not much can really be said because this is a film that people should just get out and enjoy, because I know they will. Anyways, following the events of Far From Home, in which Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, along with J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson, revealed Spider-Man’s true identity to the world, Peter (Holland) finds his life and the lives of his loved ones turned upside down. He’s treated as an outlaw of the sorts. Him and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) have to relocate because people know where they live. Probably most troubling of all though is the fact that him, his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and right hand man Nate (Jacob Batalon) can’t get accepted into any colleges because of this worldwide controversy.
Upset with himself for involving them, he turns to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who can more than likely conjure up a spell or something to make the world forget about his identity. Mid spell though, Peter realizes that he wants his loved ones to know still, at least. So this tampers with the spell to a degree and Strange finds himself stopping it entirely. As it turns out though, due to the tampering, those who knew his identity before Mysterio’s reveal still know. Enter the return of Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), and… a few others. They have stumbled out of the multiverse, and are of course aware of Peter Parker and Spider-Man, but are confused by the fact that Holland’s Peter isn’t the one they recognize.
And… I’ll stop here. It wouldn’t be fair to go any further. What can be said though is that watching Spider-Man: No Way Home, one can feel the joy and creative bursts of the people who wrote it. This is a film made from a comic book nerd’s heart and it’s hard to imagine the film not pleasing everyone. It’s a film seeped in nostalgia, but unlike an unfortunate product like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Spider-Man: No Way Home knows its audience, knows what it wants, and satisfies in ways that, if you have an affection or a connection to this character and have for decades, will charm your socks off. Charm as it will, it can also be said that this is that rare Marvel film in which there was always fear for the characters. There is actually something pretty ask risk this time around.
There are things that could probably be nitpicked- one late in the game, but also, Simmons is always welcomed, but did he stumble out of the multiverse? There are also questions left unanswered, but that’ll probably be cleared up the next time. The film is visually marvelous (there is a Doctor Strange sequence that is a knockout) and richly entertaining. At two and a half hours, this is a lot of movie, but they don’t really waste any time. Frankly, as I was watching it, I wanted to spend more time with it. This is the one I’ve been waiting for. It’s a miracle that the stars could align (the celebrities too) so then everything could click perfectly into place. The film is an emotional roller coaster and really just a roller coaster, in ways that I would love to talk about but… nah, I can’t. Anyone entering this film looking to have a great time will more than likely find it. It’s one of the year’s best films, deeply enjoyable and satisfying for the kid in all of us.
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