Now that Spider-man: No Way Home is in theatres, we can finally talk about it freely.
Here’s a spoiler-filled deep dive on everything revealed in the webhead’s latest outing. If you haven’t yet seen the film, we strongly recommend turning back now, since you’ll have the best experience the less you know.
See also: ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ spoiler-free review
Ready? Let’s get to it.
**WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD**
Devils in Hell’s Kitchen
Spider-Man: No Way Home begins right where the last film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, ended. Mysterio has broadcasted doctored footage of the London incident, framing Spider-Man for the drone attack and his death and exposing his secret identity. As a result, the whole world is looking for Peter Parker. So when the FBI starts knocking at Aunt May’s door, helicopters surrounding the windows, they realize they need to increase their security. And lawyer up.
After a few interrogation skits played for laughs, in comes our first surprise cameo: Matt Murdock played by Charlie Cox from the acclaimed Netflix series Daredevil. As a massive fan eagerly awaiting a fourth season, I audibly cheered seeing his return. A supporter of Mysterio’s throws a brick through the window, and before Peter can catch it, Matt already has it in hand. They share a look that says, “how did you do that?” and I almost think they might team-up. Unfortunately, that’s all we see of the blind vigilante for the entirety of the film.
While it was cool to have Murdock’s existence within the MCU confirmed, it feels like a missed opportunity not to flesh out this dynamic further. For instance, it would have been fun to see Murdock building a defence case for Parker, arguing for him in court, and perhaps even exposing the lie Mysterio has spun on the populace. There’s enough potential material here for its own movie, but it’s sadly put on the shelf because the film’s scope is so ambitious.
There’s another devil lurking in the background. Throughout the film, we see and hear the wild ramblings of J. Jonah Jameson, played by the infamous J.K Simons. The actor truly owned the role so much so that it seems no other actor could fill his shoes. However, while it’s wonderful to see him on screen again, this version of J. Jonah is far different from the one he previously played. Instead of running a newspaper, he is basically a caricature of the online conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Even their broadcasting sets are identical.
It’s an interesting angle for the modern age of ‘fake news’. However, it doesn’t lend itself to the same charisma nor the soft heart under a tough exterior that the original character had. He’s simply a slimy salesman peddling whatever nonsense he can to get the spotlight. Whereas the original J. Jonah admitted Spider-Man to be a hero after his apparent death, this one would be dancing on his grave.
Enter the Multiverse
Peter finds out that he, his girlfriend MJ (Michelle Jones, not Mary Jane) and friend Ned have been rejected from MIT because of their association. This serves as a personal motivation for him asking Dr. Stange to erase everyone’s memory, a spell Peter messes up while rethinking his decision in the middle of him casting it.
You would think Peter would try pleading with MIT first, or maybe decide to re-reveal his identity to trusted ones again instead of making last-minute edits of who counts in the spell. But the film moves past the silliness of how ill-thought-through it all is by pointing it out and laughing at it. It’s a passable way to get to the fun stuff, if unrealistic.
Speaking of fun, nearly all the villains from previous Spider-Man films start pouring in. Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin, Sandman, Lizard and Electro. Only Electro gets a makeover, now yellow instead of blue, due to the “energy feeling different” in this universe. They’re all a bit disoriented, and with the help of a magic web-shooting gauntlet that zaps whoever it targets into captivity, Peter manages to round them up scooby-doo style.
We learn that instead of making everyone forget who Spider-Man is, the spell pulled in those who knew his secret identity from across the multiverse. Not only that, but all the villains appeared just before their final moments in previous films. Therefore, fixing the timelines has a worrisome consequence: Peter would be sending them all to die.
While Dr. Strange may be content to send them all back to their fated demises, Peter takes on a responsibility no one asked of him: to find another way. We get an Inception-like sequence of unfolding-mirrored architecture as Dr. Strange chases Spider-Man to get back his magic box. But, he inevitably gets caught in a web (for 12 hours), leaving Parker to continue his moral quest.
With Great Power
Of course, that doesn’t go as planned. After managing to cure Dr. Otto Octavius and nearly removing all the excess electricity from Electro with the help of an arc-reactor, it turns out The Goblin side of Norman was pretending to be him and blows up the place before he can be cured.
As soon as the slightest bit of shit hits the fan, the rest of the villains give up trying to be cured and instead try to fight to survive in this world. It makes sense that certain villains would act this way, but not all. For instance, Sandman never died and has nothing to fear by being sent back. His daughter is still alive in the Raimi universe, so you’d think he’d want to get back there as soon as possible. Yet, he, too, puts up a fight.
It’s an action-packed battle, but of course, not without casualties. Goblin tosses a bomb to Aunt May, dealing a fatal blow. We watch a tragic death scene that fuels some of the best acting Holland has given in this role. Perhaps the biggest twist in the Spider-Man mythology, however, is the fact that Aunt May’s last words are the iconic “with great power comes great responsibility,” and this is the first time Holland has heard them.
Aunt May essentially then acts as the Uncle Ben to Spider-Man, except without serving as the original motivation for Peter becoming Spider-Man in the first place. That’s a big change to the character’s origin, akin to if Bruce Wayne became Batman without ever having lost his parents. One also wonders what happened to the actual Uncle Ben in this universe. Nonetheless, it’s a moment that helps steer this Spider-Man towards the classic incarnation of Peter Parker fans all know and love.
Elsewhere, Ned discovers he can use magic with the aid of Dr. Strange’s rings. He opens a portal and asks to see Peter Parker. Now, It stands to reason that if all the past villains have found their way into the MCU, then, of course, the heroes can too. In comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire walk through the portals for grand audience applause. As a fan who grew up with the Raimi trilogy, this is one of the most memorable moments I have witnessed in a theatre, so kudos to the studio for pulling it off.
After getting acquainted, they all go to find Holland. There’s a heartfelt exchange between all three spider-men about who they each lost and how they moved on. For Tobey, it’s Uncle Ben, and for Andrew, it’s Gwen Stacy. Hearing their background helps Holland heal and quell his thirst for revenge. After all, who can relate better to you than you? Finally, they all agree to develop cures for their past foes and send them home in one last hoorah.
The big final fight takes place on the statue of liberty, now oddly supporting a giant Captain America shield as big as her. It’s a surreal action sequence to witness all three spider-men swinging around together and kicking (or ‘curing’) ass. Andrew’s Spider-Man gets a well-deserved redemption saving MJ from falling to her death – something he always blamed himself for failing with Gwen.
When it looks as if the dust has settled, Holland loses his cool and starts pummeling the Goblin with punches. Tobey jumps in to stop him from delivering the fatal strike, which is fitting since he doesn’t want him to experience what he went through. Suddenly, Tobey’s Spider-Man is stabbed through the back by the Goblin’s blade! Not much of a thank you for saving his life. They jab Norman with his cure, and he’s finally back to his old self. For a moment, It seems as if Tobey is going to die, but somehow he literally just walks it off. A fake-out with no real consequences.
At this point, Dr. Strange has untangled himself from Hollands webbings, returning to find the multiverse ripping apart. There are shots from tears in the fabric of reality that contain a multitude of silhouettes of potential Spider-man villains, which fans will pause, zoom in, and inspect endlessly to discern what other villains might be out there.
In the end, fixing the timelines requires that everyone on earth forget who Spider-Man is. This puts Peter Parker in a place where he is truly on his own, concluding his friends are safer if they don’t know him. Having no friends, aunts, or mentors to rely on will likely force Parker to mature in future films, a direction that may win over those who found his portrayal too ‘kiddish’ thus far.
Peter sews himself a shiny new costume featuring the classic red and blue, taking inspiration from his multiversal counterparts. The outfit looks gorgeous, ripped right out of the comic panels, as he swings through the snowy city in the final shots. It’s a great way to give this character a blank slate in the future.
Our first post-credit scene features none other than Tom Hardy and his symbiote friend Venom. Hardy sits at the bar having a few drinks, wrapping his head around the heroes present in this universe. We don’t see him suited up as Venom at all, but just before he gets ported back to his world, he leaves a little bit of symbiote behind.
It’s pretty underwhelming to have Tom Hardy show up in the MCU only to disappear in a few seconds. The drop of symbiote left behind will likely find its way to Holland, and then perhaps another character he will fight. But the door seems to be closed on Tom Hardy and Holland ever facing off. Now was the time to do it, and it passed. Almost as if Kevin Feige was like, ‘fine, Hardy can come into our world, but only so someone else can be Venom.’
The second post-credit scene we get isn’t actually a scene but a full-on teaser trailer for the sequel to Dr. Strange. The first third of the trailer recaps the movie we just watched. Then, we see Dr. Strange recruiting the help of Wanda to fight his once friend but now foe Karl Mordo. There are some trippy action shots, and then perhaps most surprising, we see Benedict Cumberbatch as the evil Dr. Supreme from the animated series What If.
I’m curious to see if and when this trailer will be posted online. Perhaps there will be a differently edited trailer posted online since, after all, there has to be something unique worth waiting for if you’re going to ask audiences to sit through the entire credits.
Spider-man: No Way Home‘s premise is bold, daring, and a treat for fans of the wall-crawler wrapped in a big red bow just in time for Christmas. I was worried that Andrew and Tobey would only be in the film for a brief cameo, but they are present for the final third of the film, delivering a satisfying closure to their characters. Those familiar with the past films will appreciate it most, but those who have never seen a Spider-Man movie will be woefully lost.
The concept gets high praise, but the execution isn’t as well ironed-out. In particular, much of the dialogue relies on exposition to ensure you didn’t forget the events of the past movies. Some lines even directly quote popular internet memes – a clear sign of studio influence.
While the film met all my expectations, it didn’t exceed them. The trailers gave away too many plot points, and the internet rumours managed to be right on the money for what was coming. Additionally, one missed opportunity would have been to have J. Jonah and Tobey’s Spider-Man come face-to-face to exchange a few lines.
Lastly, many big moments rely on nostalgia and surprise, so I’m curious to see how the film holds up upon second viewings and how it ages with time. Will the reveals be as impactful when we know what’s coming? Time will tell.
Spider-Man: No Way Home get’s a score of 8.5/10.
What did you think of the latest Spider-Man film? Do you agree with my criticism and praise? Let us know in the comments below!