Peter Parker at his finest
Spider-Man: No Way Home had two considerable challenges. Not only was it facing the pandemic, but it was asking audiences to flock to the cinema during a time when fans are beginning to face genre fatigue, for both Marvel and superheroes as a whole. Despite its challenges, fans saw something in this MCU instalment that its fellow 2021 releases had been missing and came out tenfold.
The other Marvel projects in Phase Four have been but stepping stones to this film event, comparable to Avengers: Endgame. However, it did something Avengers couldn’t: it lived up to the hype.
The film has become the first to cross the billion-dollar mark worldwide since the pandemic began. Showing that if you give audiences what they want, they will turn up despite rain or shine.
As the third and final instalment of the Homecoming trilogy, Spider-Man: No Way Home faces the consequences of its precursors. The world knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Peter must watch as the people around him pay for his mistakes, even if he was only ever trying to do good. In true Peter Parker fashion, he makes everything worse in an attempt to fix his errors.
With the aid of Doctor Strange’s magic, Peter accidentally pulls beloved characters from the previous Spider-Man films into his universe, and they’re not all good.
Peter truly comes of age when trying to fix his multiversal mistake and battles with the true meaning behind the classic phrase “with great power comes great responsibility”.
Peter and Friends
The fear with MCU films is that everything has to be a crossover. Homecoming certainly felt this with Iron Man being such a prominent feature. While having an Avenger co-star can be fun, there’s a risk of the starring hero being forgotten in his own film. I wanted more than anything for No Way Home to be a film that allowed Peter Parker to breathe, and thankfully, it did.
Despite being featured heavily in the marketing, Doctor Strange was merely a plot device and didn’t steal the spotlight from Peter and friends.
I loved this film’s focus on Peter Parker’s life rather than Spider-Man’s. It allowed much-needed character development for Zendaya’s MJ and an insight into Peter’s personal relationships. Taking the time to finally let the audience build a connection with Ned, Aunt May, and MJ made what came later so much more meaningful.
No Way Home was the most Spider-Man a live action Spider-Man has been. Like Into the Spiderverse, it felt like a comic unfolding in front of you. Unlike Tom Holland’s previous films, this wasn’t just Peter Parker in an MCU film; this was Peter Parker’s film.
However, we can’t have everything. Marvel has been facing a villain problem since the start of the MCU, and No Way Home fails to break free of this trope. Despite using five of the most iconic villains from the last 20 years of Spider-Man films, they still managed to mess it up.
The villains just weren’t compelling and seemed to have lost the charm they had in their original films. Despite what he had to work with, William Defoe’s Green Goblin was a stand out character and partook in one of the best Spider-Man fight scenes to date.
While the villains don’t have much character development, they further the plot without a huge focus. They are secondary to Peter’s story. I would have loved to have seen more done with the fan favourite bad guys; however, their lack of story doesn’t take too much away from the film.
No Way Home was willing to take risks where fellow Marvel and Spider-Man films weren’t. It’s still similar to its sister films, but it adapts the traditional Spider-Man story in an unexpected and new way. Yet it still keeps the same messages and heart of the web-slinger. It was an interesting third take on the same story we’ve seen before.
Fan Service Done Right
In recent years, a common criticism of franchise films has been too much pandering to fans, which often results in a weak plot. However, No Way Home shows how fan service can be classy and done right.
Quite frankly, everything you wanted from this film and more are included. Right down to that TikTok sketch you liked a few months ago.
The fan service within this film wasn’t tacky or forced; it fit into the plot and was satisfying as a lifelong Spider-Man fan. That being said, I don’t want this again. I hope film studios take what resonated with fans and don’t just attempt to shove two hours of pandering into future films.
While flawed, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a touching accumulation of three generations of Spider-Men spanning two decades. Though it can be busy at times, fundamentally, it is a Peter Parker story that nicely puts this era of the hero to bed and hints at an even more exciting future.