After the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker finds himself dealing with the fallout of his secret identity being revealed to the world by J. Jonah Jameson and Mysterio. The press harasses him. The FBI begins investigating him.
The public starts taking sides on whether he is a murderer or a hero. Teachers and fellow students begin treating him differently. But Peter finds the harassment bearable as long as he has his friends and family by his side.
However, when the fallout begins affecting the future of MJ and Ned, Peter begins to feel the full weight of the guilt of what has happened. Peter then gets a brilliant idea. Doctor Strange helped change the course of time in the battle with Thanos. Can he help change the past with Peter now and make the world forget he’s Spider-Man?
Doctor Strange is initially reluctant to help but then relents and agrees to cast a spell on Peter’s behalf. But in the process, the spell goes awry and creates a problem across the Multiverse. Individuals across the alternate realities that know Spider-Man’s true identity are pulled into Peter’s world. He soon finds himself facing villains he’s never encountered before, including Doc Ock, Electro, and the Green Goblin.
With the Multiverse at risk, Doctor Strange sends Peter on a mission to gather up all of the rogue villains that have been brought into their world and send them back. But facing the legacy of Spider-Man across alternate realities will take Peter on amazing twists and turns that will permanently affect him, his friends, and the entire world.
If you’re a long time Spider-Man movie fan, this is the payoff for sticking with the franchise for nearly 20 years. Everything comes together here in a satisfying way. I didn’t find it to be the best Spider-Man movie in the series, but it’s a solid entry that should generally make fans happy.
It’s one of the worst kept secrets in movies, but Spider-Man: No Way Home features all of the previous cinematic Spider-Men together on screen for one big adventure. We are treated to seeing Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland united in battle and it is a lot of fun.
The fact that it feels like it would have been impossible to accomplish legally, logistically, and narratively makes it all the more satisfying to see on the big screen. Each of the Spider-Men is given plenty of love and fun lines. Their interaction is a real treat and features a lot of the humor and emotion you would hope. Everybody has their favorite Spider-Man actor, so it’s a bit of a surreal experience to see them side by side for comparison.
Tobey initially seems a bit reserved compared to Holland and Garfield, but as the story progresses his interaction as the senior Spider-Man makes him more and more likable. Andrew Garfield was always a great Spider-Man in a mediocre movie, but here his humor and personality get to shine a bit more.
Then, of course, there’s Tom Holland who is mentored by the two older versions of Peter. The end result is a great dynamic between the three that is the highlight of the film.
The villains also get to shine. Jamie Foxx gets to redeem himself as Electro. Alfred Molina also gets a great epilogue to his turn as one of the best Spider-Man villains.
But the real star is Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn. His performance is not just a simple cameo with a wink at the camera. He really has a permanent impact on the Spider-Man lore and cements himself as the primary nemesis of Peter Parker. Dafoe really brings the insanity to the character and when the fight scenes commence, the end result is some of the most vicious fighting for Holland’s Spider-Man.
The villains take a surprising turn here and are not mere punching bags for our heroes. Their story arc becomes really interesting as Holland’s Peter Parker decides there’s a better way to deal with them. It’s a poignant moment for all of the Spider-Man characters and transforms this crossover gimmick into something deeper.
While this is a Spider-Man movie, it’s also very much a Doctor Strange sequel. Benedict Cumberbatch gets to have a lot of fun as both a rogue sorcerer and the adult in the room among Spider-Man and his amazing friends. We get to see a bit more of the Doctor Strange universe, find out more fallout from “The Blip,” and it solidly tees up the Doctor Strange sequel directed by Sam Raimi, appropriately enough.
My favorite part of all of the MCU Spider-Man movies is the humor. And while the comedy is significantly dialed back here, there’s still enough to make it a highlight of the film. Zendaya as MJ, Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, and Tom Holland make a great comedic trio and their reactions to the comic book villains, magical plot twists, and amazing battles are a lot of fun. Jon Favreau returns, albeit briefly, as Happy Hogan and generates a lot of laughs as well.
The Spider-Man MCU movies are some of the funniest of the entire Marvel Saga, so it’s a bit surprising to see what a dark turn this film takes. Anyone that reads Spider-Man comics knows that there is a ton of drama, angst, and melancholy in Peter Parker’s story. Unfortunately the “Home” series opted to push all of it to this third film and it makes it a bit less enjoyable despite being a critical part of the character’s story.
This story also feels like the creators were fighting with one arm webbed behind their backs as this film had to fit into the overall MCU saga more than the previous two Spider-Man movies. The fact that they were trying to hammer this puzzle piece into the bigger MCU puzzle picture makes it feel less free, independent, and lighthearted than the previous two films. So while the ties to the MCU are frequently a great asset, it almost feels like a liability here.
Though great pains were taken to hide spoilers for No Way Home, I have to say I was a bit surprised at just how much of the movie was shown in commercials and trailers. Every act of the film is shown, so you kind of know the basic sequence of the story before you even go in. It’s just the details that are missing.
The appearance of the three Spider-Men was widely known despite efforts by the creators to keep it secret. I wish we could have gone into the film knowing nothing and been surprised by their appearance, but those days are clearly over. On top of that, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse kind of stole the thunder of having a multiverse crossover. I wish it had been done in the live action version first.
I will also admit that I fell into the trap of generating a wish list of what I wanted to see in this film. I had ideas about how Venom would be brought in. I had expectations about Miles Morales appearing. I was actually expecting more villains to show up and form the Sinister Six. None of the things I was expecting happened the way I anticipated, so I felt a bit let down. That’s on me and not the creators, but I can’t help but feel that they did leave some opportunities behind that will disappoint other fans.
Along those lines, one of the two credits bonus scenes feels like a real trolling of the fans by the creators. I’m going to be interested to see reactions by fans who have been loyal to the series.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a fun, exciting, and essential movie for Spider-Man fans and MCU fans alike. It’s astounding that it ever got made. But as must-see as it is, it is a bit of a downer which makes it my least favorite of the MCU Spider-Man movies. That’s still high praise, though.
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME REVIEW SCORE: 8 OUT OF 10
Sony Pictures‘ Spider-Man: No Way Home is rated PG-13 for sequences of action/violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.