This review is as spoiler-free as possible, as the film is still playing in theaters and is currently not available on streaming services.
No Way Home picks up right where the mid-credits scene for Far From Home ended: with J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle streaming a video of Quentin Beck (Mysterio) revealing Spider-Man’s secret identity to the entire world. Peter is made a celebrity overnight, but he’s not much a fan of that as it puts MJ and Ned in the spotlight as well. Because of their association with him, all three teens are rejected from MIT: their dream school, where they had planned to start over.
Wanting a normal life more than ever, Peter goes to Doctor Strange for help. He asks for a spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Strange agrees to cast the spell for him, but loses focus with Peter’s repeated revisions during the spellcasting to make at least his loved ones remember who he is. While Strange manages to contain the spell, it was very difficult – and didn’t work. People from other dimensions are coming through, all of whom knowing that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. All of whom also seem to remember a different Peter Parker, a different Spider-Man, and their final battles with them before being pulled into a different universe. All of whom, they figure out together, seem to have died during their battles with their own Spider-Men. Peter won’t let that happen to them, and sets about curing all of them. When they are betrayed, Peter must decide what being Spider-Man truly means.
… Wow. Just… WOW. This movie was everything I wanted in a Spider-Man movie and then some. Despite the issues I had with it, especially regarding a glaring plot hole, Husband and I highly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend.
Let’s start with that plot hole which concerns Doctor Strange’s communication with Peter about the spells. Why didn’t he think to tell Peter about the consequences of the first spell he cast, but not the second one at the end of the movie? Because the plot needed him to NOT do that. Nothing in the movie would have happened if they had taken 5 minutes to ensure all of Peter’s loved ones still remembered he was Spider-Man before casting the first spell. At the same time, Strange needed to explain the consequences of the second spell at the end of the movie in order for Peter and the audience to fully understand them. So this was a double-edged sword: a problem, but a necessary one.
The CGI was also sometimes okay at best for a Marvel movie. Some CG characters were (likely) deliberately kept in shadow for most of their scenes, as it’s easier for CG to look better when in shadow. Costumes on characters appearing from other universes were also obviously CG, where they might not have been in their original movies. That took away some of the experience for me, but mostly because I’m old and cantankerous =P
With this being really the first completed Spider-Man movie arc, this Spider-Man’s story wrapping up is extra satisfying. Through the characters appearing from other franchises, we also get a glimpse of their stories being wrapped up as well. This wasn’t just a ploy for the nostalgia-bait trope that’s so hot right now. No Way Home was an opportunity for ALL of the Spider-Men movies to be wrapped up. Remarkably, this doesn’t take away from Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s arc at all. This Peter was (to me) most believably a teenager with great power thrust upon him, and his struggles to learn to use them responsibly felt authentic and up-to-date for teenage and young adult audiences today. His great sacrifice at the end of this movie not only proved how much his character grew and matured, but gave us an ending for Spider-Man that movies have been trying to give us since 2002.
I’ve read that further movies for this Spider-Man are in the works. I am totally against this. No Way Home was a definitive end for this Spider-Man. A bittersweet, cathartic, yet hopeful, ending, but nonetheless: an ending. There is a case to be made for letting franchises run their course, and No Way Home is the poster child. This Peter is done. Let him be and introduce another Spider-person, such as Miles Morales (MY VOTE, PLEASE) or Gwen Stacy.
No matter which Spider-franchise you’re a fan of, you will find something to love in No Way Home. Please be safe and take every precaution to stay healthy if you venture to the theater for it.
Watts, John (director). Spider-Man: No Way Home. 2021.