Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes
AUNT MAY'S PLACE — The day so many of us have been waiting for and speculating about is finally here. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" opens in theaters this weekend.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home" became instant fan favorites. This third installment has been a long time coming, following delays and a contract dispute between Marvel and Sony. Thankfully, it was all worked out. Now fans' biggest question can be answered: Who will be caught in Spider-Man's web for his latest adventure?
It was announced some time ago that this movie would include the multiverse, and trailers showed us that villains from previous Spider-Man franchises would be in this movie. We saw Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx's Electro, so the next question was obvious: "Are Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in it?"
Well, I don't give away spoilers, so I'm not saying anything about any of that. You'll have to see the movie to find out for yourself. What I will say, however, is that I had a blast watching "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and I think the web-slinger finally got the threequel he deserves.
Here are some reasons I really liked "Spider-Man: No Way Home."
Spider-Man is growing up
I thought the first two Spider-Man movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe were a lot of fun. They almost felt like a John Hughes movie that happened to be about a superhero. They were incredibly funny and witty, with plenty of action and heart to keep us enthralled.
"No Way Home" still has some great jokes and teenage antics, but Peter Parker is growing up in this film and it feels natural. The John Hughes feel isn't quite as strong, and Peter is dealing with some heavy stuff in this movie — including coming face to face with his own adolescent mistakes and the consequences that follow. The Spider-Man "Home" franchise has evolved, and I think it has done so gracefully. "No Way Home" felt like the correct next step in Peter Parker's journey.
Don't misunderstand, this movie still has all the quirkiness that made the first two so charming, but there is a seriousness to Peter reluctantly stepping into adulthood that balances out the childish naivete and silliness of still being a high schooler.
Previous universes blend surprisingly well
Superhero sequels always seem to try to go bigger than their predecessor, but bigger isn't always better. Both "Spider-Man 3" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" thought bigger meant more villains, and I personally think both films got tripped up on themselves. I was worried about "No Way Home" because not only are there a lot of villains, but you're bringing them in from previous films that are not a part of this universe. It's a lot to juggle, but screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna, and director Jon Watts managed to keep all those balls in the air and in rhythm.
There are moments when all these villains seem to be getting away from the filmmakers, but they managed to reel it back in. One thing that was an advantage is that the audience doesn't need long backstories on who these baddies are; we already know. This provides the opportunity to jump into the action and start moving the story forward without a lot of exposition.
I'm not sure the multiple bad guys' element was done perfectly, but it was pretty close. Watts and McKenna focused more on one bad guy and let the others be supporting villains, which made for a more tangible story including all of these different characters and motivations.
When it comes to one hero fighting multiple villains, I think "No Way Home" did it as well or better than just about any other film.
Nostalgia is played just right
Playing off of our nostalgia for previous films or universes is a trendy Hollywood cliche right now. A perfect example of a recent one is "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." The movie is fun, but it almost leaned too hard into the nostalgia instead of standing on its own. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" did the same. As "No Way Home" plays off our nostalgia for two previous Spider-Man franchises, I think the mix is just right.
It's fun to see Dafoe and Molina step right back into their roles, and it's satisfying to see this new franchise pay homage to those who laid the foundation before them. But the movie does not rely just on that aspect. The movie has its own story and identity, and then blends in these earlier storylines and characters almost seamlessly. I say "almost" because there are some moments that feel a little hitchy and maybe not completely organic, but it's pretty darn close.
To me, this is the most important facet of any superhero movie: Is it fun? I have to say "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is fun. The action is high, the fight scenes well-choreographed, the jokes are clever and the drama is balanced.
I think this Spider-Man franchise has been one of the best when it comes to creating its own narrative that stands without the support of all the other MCU movies. The world feels contained and focused on what's going on with Peter and his friends and family with little impact from the greater MCU other than the backstory that helped us get where we are.
When the credits rolled, I had a different feeling from the previous two films. But I still had a smile on my face and walked out satisfied and looking forward to discussing it with others, and seeing it again.
Should you go see it?
If you are a Spider-Man fan or an MCU fan, I say "absolutely." There is something wildly satisfying about this movie. If you are not a fan of Spidey, his predecessors or the MCU, you may not enjoy it as much, but you might still have some fun.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" is rated PG-13 for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments. I would say the content in this is right in line with the first two movies from the "Home" franchise.