Spider-Man: No Way Home – A Spectacular Return to Web Swinging

Jack Rose, Cav-Culture Editor

Up to this point, Marvel’s “Phase Four” has been utterly mediocre. With awful origin stories, lacking TV-shows, and whatever Eternals was supposed to be, the post Endgame media has all fallen short. The cinematic universe succeeded because it took its time: starting out with a simple story of a usurping and then taking over a decade, and 22 movies to build to the universe-ending event. In a bad turn of events, it seems like everything that comes out of the connected stories immediately jumps to the approaching end of everything. Spider-Man: No Way Home brings it all back. Tom Holland’s third stand-alone film as the beloved web-slinger taps almost every aspect of why Marvel as a franchise has survived over a decade of connected movies, and it does them all well. No Way Home sparks new hope when looking at the future of the MCU.

Photos courtesy of IMDb

Right off the bat, No Way Home’s first act is incredibly well-paced. The film spends a perfect amount of time showing Peter’s life being affected by the aftermath of Far From Home before moving on to the perfect amount of time reintroducing the villains of Spidey’s past. There’s fun action, exploration of consequences, and shoehorned cameos. Everything works well heading into the second act when the movie slows down. The stall helps to flesh out characters while introducing others, but the main purpose is to set up the final act. This shift down works because of some exciting and emotional moments but in reality, it’s all to set up the ending, and what a spectacular ending it is. The third act of No Way Home is one of the best in all of Marvel. Bringing in build up since ‘02, the final fight’s twists, turns and incredible action leave the viewer in awe. With an under renovation Statue of Liberty as its backdrop, the threat of interdimensional villains looming and swinging heroes from years past the whole sequence leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat the entire time. 

Creating more for a character can be difficult. Often, they’ve come to the end of their journey and their arcs have concluded. No Way Home gets around this by pulling villains from before their redemption (or untimely demise) and giving them new arcs. While all these returning villains have fun moments, they’re a mixed bag. Both Lizard and Sandman are sidelined almost completely. Lizard has maybe a minute of screen time, no motive, and seems only there to add a fifth name to the Sinister Five. Sandman is potentially worse, as his “motives” are all unclear, and constantly changing. 

Better villains include Doc Ock, though his time in the film seems to mostly be a punching bag for both heroes and villains. Despite his one scene of action being almost entirely in the trailer, Alfred Molina’s take on the iconic villain still manages to amaze, and his redemption scene might be the best of the group. Jamie Foxx shines while reprising his role as Electro with both the much better redesign and his legitimate character. Jamie Foxx’s best roles are when it seems like he’s just having fun, and his second take on the character is vastly superior to the villain of the Amazing Spider-Man 2. Rising above all the rest stands Willem Dafoe reprising his role as Norman Osbourne’s Green Goblin. From timid scared man to psychopathic murderer, Dafoe plays them both to perfection. He steals every scene he’s in whether he’s snatching pastries, delivering bone-chilling lines, or stabbing childhood heroes. The movie could have fallen flat without this incredible reprisal.

Where foes are a toss-up, returning heroes come back better than ever. Old superheroes aren’t a new concept. Coming to the big screen however is a more recent occurrence, and was made popular with films like Logan showing an old Wolverine, and Into the Spider-Verse featuring the first big cinematic depiction of an old Spider-Man with Jake Johnson’s “Peter B. Parker.” Coming into live-action No Way Home brings back Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield’s iterations of the friendly neighborhood hero. 

Both actors are fantastic in their reprisal, but Garfield takes it up a level. He takes his goofy, weird Parker and lets those characteristics shine while also having serious moments displaying the darker path his life has gone down. Along with their individual performances, all three actors work fantastically together and deliver some of the best group dialogue in the film. The three Spider-Men’s performances are all enhanced with the further closure they get with the villains they tried to save so many years ago. 

The best Spider-Man stories are those where Peter Parker’s actions lead to major consequences and him losing who he loves. No Way Home is a perfect example of this in that Peter is constantly suffering for his choices. The movie is set up on Peter’s choices in Far From Home, furthered from his choices with the returning villains, and finished with the choices of Peter not sending said villains back earlier. Through the film he has multiple opportunities to send the villains back but instead, he chooses to help and suffers for it Despite his losses, he still chooses to help and be the hero, because Spider-Man keeps fighting despite his defeats. No Way Home feels like the first “true” Spider-Man film in the MCU because it’s not Peter cleaning up Iron Man’s mistakes, it’s Parker dealing with the ones he’s created. 

In the simplest words, Spider-Man: No Way Home is utterly fantastic. Fantastic writing with fun turns and amazing characters help to cement it as one of the best Marvel movies released to date. The minimal input from outside characters and the maximum involvement from sidelined allies helps to bring together a great plot, a great movie, and a great Spider-Man story.