After months of countless speculation, rumors, leaks, and a lot of theories, Spider-Man: No Way Home premiered in the United States to continue one of the most controversial and intriguing endings that the MCU has given us. After the events of Avengers: Endgame, it was Spider-Man who was in charge of ending the Infinity Saga with an epilogue that divided opinions, but quickly positioned itself as one of the arachnid's highest-grossing films; to the point where Sony Pictures almost abandoned its deal with Marvel to continue the stories starring Tom Holland independently. The latter had to mediate between the two producers to stay in the same universe as The Avengers. And after that, the pandemic hit the world, and the expected closing of the trilogy went on hiatus, was delayed, and reconfigured to give way (now) to the true multiverse, after a year in which Marvel heroes made and unmade reality and played with timelines, Peter Parker's turn to learn the actual consequences of altering the fabric of the universe.
As you have seen in the trailers, Spider-Man: No Way Home places us immediately after the big reveal about the identity of Peter Parker. Thus, Spidey has become the target of the masses, who go mad in his presence and seek at all costs to condemn him for Mysterio's death. As if all of the above were not enough, society also points out everyone who has any relationship with Spidey, from his love MJ to Aunt May and his best friends. Peter is enemies numbers even though he had helped restore the universe in a fierce fight against Thanos just a year ago.
Tired of escaping and being singled out, Peter turns to an old acquaintance for help: Dr. Strange. For this sorcerer, re-configuring the world is nothing new, but Spider-Man's banalities do not seem enough to alter reality. However, a more straightforward spell does not bring the universe into play until the adolescent hero's rush deforms the enchantment and achieves the exact opposite of what he needs. Instead of people forgetting that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, Strange causes anyone who knows Spider-Man's secret identity to be transported to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
No Way Home doesn't take much off from the stories we know about in the MCU or other superhero movies. Many of the situations happen conveniently for the plot, and there are elements that, if better thought out, would have caused fewer problems. What there is a production that unfolds on family situations with the sole purpose of pleasing everyone. Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures seize the moment to spotlight their most valuable property, inject a touch of nostalgia into it, and throw it back into the ring, from a perspective that doesn't necessarily have to do with the future of everything the MCU encompasses.
Although there is bad news, we are faced with problems similar to those of the last Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films: too many stories and characters simultaneously on-screen. The film does not hide at any time that its first minutes go against the clock to explain and put on the table everything that Spidey needs to open the multiverse. In just over half an hour, we see passages that give us an idea of the new life our hero faces. Although these stories could humanize the character more, the director chooses to hurry up the explanations and put Benedict on screen as soon as possible Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, and William Dafoe.
It is not necessarily a problem of rhythm, but the evident commitment to action significantly affects the development of the most emotional moments. I would have liked the main event of the plot to have a more dignified presentation and that the relationship of all those involved could be explored more with more intelligent or, at least, more exciting dialogues. There are conversations and moments in the script that do the comics justice, and they even seem to take ideas from the fans so that the fan service scores more and more points, but there are also moments that feel wasted. Of all the production, the story's script and opening pacing pale the most, and it is clear that a bit of both was sacrificed for an indulgent and exciting film.
There is a particular brilliance in the performance of Tom Holland and the transformation of his Peter Parker. As if they had switched writers on the main Spider-Man series in the comics, the arachnid we see in No Way Home is a bit more mature and aware of his role in the world, mainly in the people around him. This change could have taken a little longer without revealing his identity. Still, the adjustments are appreciated, and they manage to define better both the hero and the man behind the mask. This is, without a doubt, the best version of Tom Holland's Spider-Man, and it may change some opinions of his detractors, especially in the face of the new trilogy.
Since his debut in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland's Spider-Man has functioned as a character who responds to events already established in the MCU: the existence of The Avengers, the search for the Infinity Stones, or the no concern for secret identities. No Way Home allows the character to conceive a new idea within the MCU and serves as a personal closure for this first arc of arachnid stories, where the shadow of Tony Stark was more relevant than any other father figure to Peter Parker. Holland and director John Watts and the rest of the cast of this series embrace the new freedom offered by the MCU with open arms, betting on classic ideas and a worthy closure to the arachnid legacy.
No Way Home places us for the first time, within the MCU, in a neighborhood that does feel part of the Spider-Man universe and not just of The Avengers. JK Simmons as Jonah Jameson and Marisa Tomey as Aunt May may have a small stake. Still, their presence serves to reinforce classic elements in the lives of Spider-Man and Peter Parker, and they are no longer filler characters that make a reference to Stark or Mysterio but are entirely focused on reinforcing Spider-Man's lore. Even Peter Parker himself takes up critical things from his mythology to develop his role with a conviction that had only been mentioned ambiguously and that can finally take off completely.
As the Green Goblin shines with his light on his return to the Marvel universe, William Dafoe gets a villain as spectacular as the one we saw in Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man. This Green Goblin uses the most recent versions of Norman Osborn in the comics, where theatricality is put aside to show madness as his main ally. In that sense, Otto Octavius was also updated from versions like Superior Spider-Man, with a strange sense of responsibility but always looking for a way to demonstrate his intelligence and power before anything else. Jamie Foxx leaves the look behind the original and personality of his Max Dillon, which makes us wonder if he is the same as we knew. Again, it's Sam Raimi's ideas that win out when compared to Marc Webb's, and we couldn't be more grateful for that.
This history model is "independent" of the main continuity of the MCU. We have seen it gain strength in projects like What If ...? and even Eternals, but with Spider-Man, it seems to have greater relevance to the character and his upcoming projects. She is a trendy and valuable property, but she is also a character who can easily have her universe. Under this idea, Spider-Man: No Way Home marks an essential step for the Sony-Marvel relationship, without leaving aside the nods, references, and apparent signs about key characters for Marvel Studios, but always with a clear warning that reminds us that the character also has a future with Sony.
Spider-Man: No Way Home shows its potential with an idea closer to an Avengers movie than an Iron Man 3 or Thor: Ragnarok sequel. No Way Home is a classic summer blockbuster (at Christmas). It uses a considerable budget, and all the product features to enchant its audience through brilliant action sequences, well-crafted special effects, and tons of stars parading in tights ready to save the world. The show is spectacular, fun and will surely fill social networks with videos with reactions at the movies and a lot of crying. And it is that response that clarifies that the enormous expectations that the film has generated for several months were met.
In the same way as Infinity War or Endgame, No Way Home does not save anything and is carried away by the hype train. The movie goes straight to the fan, giving them concise spaces to take a breather, fulfill fantasies, and heal old wounds. It never fails to feel like a Tom Holland Spider-Man movie, which keeps us connected to the construction of the character within the MCU. There are changes and a lot of nostalgia, but we continue to deal with the most recent version of the arachnid, with all the pros and cons that entails in a project as gigantic as Marvel Studios.
Spider-Man: No Way lives up to the rampant expectations fans have been dreaming of for months on their social media. The mission seemed impossible, but it has been achieved with an execution that bets on spectacularity, sacrificing the plot a bit but coming to fruition with classic tricks from a superhero movie. Without going into spoilers, how Tom Holland has retaken the role of Spider-Man is the best thing about the film because, for the first time, we meet that young introvert who must fend for himself to save New York and arrive on time to his next class.