Let’s talk about Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Oh boy, this is a big one. Marvel’s Phase 4 is yet to really excite people. Black Widow was good, but wasn’t much different from what we’ve seen before. Shang-Chi was very good and is quickly becoming beloved, but it was barely known before it came out and people came to it after strong reviews. Eternals was meant to be massive but for many it was a misfire and didn’t work as intended. But this is the big one. Ever since it was confirmed that the third MCU Spider-Man film would be tackling the multiverse and that it was real and not a swerve like it was with Mysterio, the speculation has been intense and there’s been a lot of excitement. But sometimes, excitement leads to disappointment so will that happen here?
Spider-Man has been revealed to the public as Peter Parker, leading to his and his friends’ lives being ruined. In a desperate attempt to go back to normal, he goes to Doctor Strange to do a spell to make everyone forget he was ever Spider-Man. The spell goes wrong and breaks the multiverse, and villains start emerging from the other universes.
It’s going to be very hard to review this film. Because of the intense excitement and speculation, it’s hard to talk about the film without either confirming or disproving many of the theories and rumours that have been talked about. So for this review, we’re going to try and stick to what has been shown in the trailers. That’s your warning. So as you will have seen in those videos, Spider-Man isn’t just facing villains from another universe. He is facing villains we have seen in the other Spider-Man films, I.E. the ones starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. There’s also a lot of them, which does spell disaster. Both Maguire’s and Garfield’s last Spider-Man films had problems handing a large number of villains and was a major reason neither film worked. What helps in this film is that all of the villains are already established so an educated audience will have a decent idea going in about their backgrounds and motivations. The film doesn’t need to spend much time on getting them going, they can just appear, have a fight then have the film move on with the rest of the plot.
Actually, the film does a fairly good job of rehabbing some of those villains. Let’s take Electro for instance. He was the main villain of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a film that did so badly that Sony willingly gave over part of the rights back to Marvel, and he was a big reason. A laughable backstory coupled with a poor design led to him becoming a bit of a joke. This film though puts some real effort into re-establishing Electro as a threat and as a good character. They give him some extra depth, some more lines and probably more focus on him than all the villains excluding Doc Ock and the Green Goblin. It works as well, you do end up caring about the character and thinking of him as a good villain. Which considering what he used to be thought like is a decent effort from the film.
But what matters most is that despite all the gimmicks and headline grabbing moments is that this works as a Spider-Man film. You get a great arc involving Spider-Man trying to do the best for everyone even with tough circumstances and the standard superhero thing of seeing what could potentially snap and make him into a darker version of the character. I would say this is one of the darker Marvel movies and it make some very brave choices you definitely won’t see coming. Spider-Man is truly tested in this film and it works because the film knows how to balance the dark moments with things that’ll please the fans to make sure it doesn’t end up being a Nolan-esque effort as well as giving Peter Parker things that are well worth getting broody about. Also he doesn’t start dancing, which is good.
So does the film get it wrong at any point? Well there are some flaws, though nothing that stops this film from being very good. There are a couple of narrative shortcuts taken which seem like a way to try and stop this movie from spiralling into four hours, but also are noticeable and would feel cheap. I will grant the film moves so quick at these moments that you might not notice them right away. I also think this is one of those films that people have been hyping up so much and creating their own scenes in mind that when those things do not happen, they might be really disappointed. So that’s something to keep in mind.
It would have been very easy for Spider-Man: No Way Home to fail. It has had incredibly expectations put onto it and having that amount of film can lead to perfectly decent films being written off. It’s happened plenty of times before and will happen again at some point I’m sure. But against all odds, the film manages to balance those expectations along with building something for the future of the MCU. I don’t think you need me to tell you to go see this but yes, go see this.