‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Review — Into the MCU’s Spider-Verse

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Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

The partnership between Sony and Marvel Studios concerning Spider-Man within the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been successful for both sides. Marvel gets Spidey in their massive team-up adventures and Sony gets the built-in rabid audience of the MCU. When it was announced that the Sony/Marvel partnership wasn’t going forward, it only took a matter of days for the rival studios to hash out a deal. They didn’t do it for the fans. They didn’t do it for the story. They did it for their shared love of money. Now Spider-Man returns in his third solo outing that takes place within the broader MCU with Spider-Man: No Way Home. With the burden of intense internet hype surrounding the film, Spider-Man: No Way Home delivers the goods with an entertaining journey that thoughtfully honors the past two decades of Spider-Man on the silver screen.

Let’s get this out of the way: There are going to be absolutely no spoilers in this review. If a detail is included in here that you find objectionable, know that it is merely the nuts and bolts of the film’s story and not anything that’s going to divulge big surprises. Here we go.

Following the events of Far From Home, where Mysterio reveals that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man, the web-slinger is now subject to intense media attention and his fair share of public backlash. His new notoriety has made it that neither he nor his girlfriend M.J. (Zendaya) and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) can get into the college of their choice. Desperate for some semblance of normalcy, Peter reaches out to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) about possibly casting a spell that could make people forget that his secret identity has been revealed. The Sorcerer Supreme casts his spell but distractions from the impetuous Parker leads to some mystical mistakes that unleashes the mayhem of the multiverse.

Soon, young Peter Parker is facing a bevy of baddies from various corners of the multiverse. Though he’s unfamiliar with them, they’re quite familiar with him – including his powers and alter-ego. Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), aka Dr. Octopus; Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe), aka The Green Goblin; Max Dillion (Jamie Foxx), aka Electro; Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), aka Sandman; and Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans), aka The Lizard all transport into the world of the MCU Peter Parker, wreaking havoc on a massive scale and threatening the very foundation of reality.

I will be honest, the idea of a multiverse movie seemed like a dark omen. So easily this project could’ve just devolved into simplistic fan service with lazy callbacks. Credit where it’s due, director Jon Watts and screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers pulled off what seemed quite impossible. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of callbacks and plenty of fan service but it’s always in service of the story at hand.

It’s also a welcome relief that the film doesn’t go too hard in trying to explain away aspects of the multiverse and its ramifications. Stories like this often run the risk of being too confusing and the creative team of No Way Home have done an admirable job in keeping the story rather streamlined. There were even moments where some of the actions of Peter Parker had me a bit confused, leading to me to fear that film had lost its grip on its character, but then it deftly pulls the character’s actions into the broader story and it pays off in some well-earned emotional moments that I wasn’t expecting at all. The film is a celebration of the character on the screen, like a live action Into the Spider-Verse, though not quite as overwhelmingly stunning as the animated feature.

Tom Holland continues to excel in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Whether it was his debut opposite Robert Downey, Jr. or the sequel opposite Samuel L. Jackson and now opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, the young actor is able to hold his own playing against generational talents and continues to evolve the character with more and more emotional depth. There’s real onscreen chemistry between Holland and Zendaya, with No Way Home providing the two young actors the best romantic connection they’ve had in any of the previous films. And the rest of the cast shines, including its multiple villains. MCU Spider-Man regulars Marissa Tomei as Aunt May and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan return, and their relationship from the previous film hits a couple of amusing speed bumps. Of course, this film boasts the return of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and the turning the head of The Daily Bugle into a conspiracy theorist YouTuber selling his own supplements is an inspired choice.

What I find most interesting about this particular film is that it does feel rather unshackled from the larger MCU. So often the MCU films strain to connect to other films, but because this is a Sony production it’s able to keep enough distance from the aspects that wind up constraining other Marvel projects. Sure, Dr. Strange is there and references are made to their previous exploits in Infinity War and Endgame, but it doesn’t weigh down this particular film.

The action of Spider-Man: No Way Home is often quite dazzling. Sure, there are countless scenes slathered in CGI but they’re well-constructed and the finalized effect works look noticeably better than anything teased in the trailers. For good measure, the film is able to toss in the psychedelic surrealism of Dr. Strange’s mystical powers that warp the nature of reality. Credit where its due, between some of the scenes in No Way Home and the awesome Mysterio sequence in Far From Home, Jon Watts has delivered some of the MCU’s most memorable and engaging action set pieces.

It really says something about how great the Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi were that 20 years later a sequel to the second round of reboots is pulling from his back catalogue of perfectly cast villains, as well as J. Jonah Jameson. The man helped create the superhero film as we know it and his mark is that indelible that it can’t be escaped. And yet, with the weight of that legacy on his shoulders, Jon Watts delivers a very loving tribute not to just Raimi’s films but to the character and his history with Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s a thoughtful, entertaining work of pop entertainment that’s destined to be a massive crowd-pleaser.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Overall Score


A sprawling romp through the MCU multiverse, Spider-Man: No Way Home deftly balances bringing back iconic villains from the past in a new adventure that keeps the multiverse manageable and that will please fans but not overload audiences with mere lazy callbacks and cheap nostalgia.

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