“With great power, there must also come great responsibility.”
Major spoilers ahead, if you’re one of the few people who hasn’t seen this film.
Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up immediately after the events of Far From Home when Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) outed the webslinger’s secret identity and framed him for murder. Now, Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) entire life has been upended. He can’t go to school without cameras being shoved in his face and half the city thinks he’s a criminal thanks to blowhard J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) peddling Mysterio’s false narrative. Even Peter’s inner circle are dragged down with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) and Stark Industries now under federal investigation while MJ (Zendaya) and Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) face rejection from MIT.
Taking inspiration from the “One More Day” storyline, Peter turns to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his mastery of the mystic arts to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man. The spell goes horribly wrong and pulls in villains from other franchises to wreak havoc in the MCU. Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) are the first to arrive, quickly followed by The Lizard (Rhys Ifans), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church). Good thing there are two other Peter Parkers (Tobey Maguire & Andrew Garfield) to help against the Sinister Six Minus One.
Despite Marvel trying their best to keep a lid on things, it seemed obvious to anyone, even those without Spider-Sense, that Tobey and Andrew were coming back to join forces with Tom Holland to battle an all-star team of previous antagonists. The Peters bond through their shared experiences of triumph and tragedy. In their darkest moments, they’ve all lost loved ones and learned to endure because of the important lesson that with great power comes great responsibility. In lighter moments, No Way Home has fun at the expense of Tobey’s Peter due to his bad back, which nearly prevented him from returning for the sequel, and organic webshooters.
No Way Home also serves as a redemption, in more ways than one, for Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man. Garfield did an excellent job embodying the awkward teenage years of Peter Parker, but his version isn’t held in the same regard thanks to the mismanagement of Sony Pictures. Here, Garfield gets his time to shine to prove that he truly was an amazing Spider-Man. There’s instant chemistry between Garfield and the other cast members, in particular Jacob Batalon and Zendaya. His Peter is provided with some manner of closure by saving MJ’s life where he failed to save Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).
No Way Home doesn’t just rely on nostalgia and fan service. Screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers never forget that this is Tom Holland’s movie and their to further his journey. Marvel brilliantly turns this trilogy of Spider-films into a de facto origin story for Holland’s Spider-Man. He’s no longer Iron Man Jr. as critics have derisively called him. The MCU Peter no longer has a network of friends to assist him or nanotechnology from Stark Industries. He swings through New York City in a costume he sewed himself and it’s the classic red and blue suit, taking inspiration from his Spider-brothers. In the end, we’re taken back to the classic Silver Age tales by Steve Ditko, John Romita, and Stan Lee with Peter on his own and dealing with the quintessential problems of trying to make rent and fight crime.
No hero’s journey is complete without a great villain to overcome and Spidey has five of them, not including the court of public opinion. Let’s face facts, Sandman and Lizard are just there to fill out the roster. The real stars on the bad guy side are Molina’s Doc Ock and Dafoe’s Goblin with both actors excelling at the Jekyll and Hyde nature of their characters. Molina (with some digital magic) looks like he stepped straight out of Spider-Man 2, right down to his dialogue (“..the power of the sun in the palm of my hand.”) Yet, no amount of special effects could replicate the expressiveness of Willem Dafoe’s face, changing from sorrowful Norman to psychotic Goblin on a dime. Only Dafoe could laugh with glee while Spider-Man reigns down punches that would pulverize a normal human being. The first villain to torment the wallcrawler on the silver screen appears in the MCU for only a day and manages to kill Aunt May, destroy the Statue of Liberty, and nearly shatters reality itself. Thanos, who?
Not to be forgotten is Jamie Foxx, who receives a second chance just like his Amazing Spider-Man 2 co-star. No Way Home thankfully ditches the buck teeth and glow-in-the-dark smurf look to allow Foxx to be his natural, charismatic self. Foxx’s Electro crackles yellow energy this time around and even gains something resembling his star-shaped mask from the comics.
As director, Jon Watts drops us right into the chaos with Spider-Man and a frightened MJ swinging through the NYC subway. This is followed by a hectic sequence (done as a long take) returning home to find Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and a heartbroken Happy with news choppers circling outside. Watts also gives us several thrilling action sequences with Dr. Strange chasing Spidey inside the mind-bending mirror dimension and a brutal slugfest between Spider-Man and Green Goblin as they literally slam each other through several stories of Happy’s apartment building.
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The picture quality for the perils of Peter Parker is practically perfect. Images are bright and colorful with rich details like the textures of the various Spider-costumes and the wrinkles on Dafoe’s face.
The audio is presented DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, but not the Dolby Atmos track included with the 4K release. In any event, the sound is exquisite starting with Doc Ock’s tentacles crunching cars on the overpass. What really rocks is the brilliant score by Michael Giacchino, which continues the themes of the last two Home movies while dropping musical cues from Danny Elfman, James Horner, and Hans Zimmer, the composers of the previous franchises.
Bloopers & Gag Reel (4:01) is your standard collection of outtakes.
Action Choreography: Across the Multiverse (6:25) focuses on the fights and stunts of No Way Home and how each Spider-Man has their own unique style.
A Spectacular Spider-Journey with Tom Holland (6:16) looks back on how Tom Holland joined the MCU and how he and his character have grown over the years.
Realities Collide, Spiders Unite (8:09) is a featurette about bringing the Spider-Men together and the lengths at the studio tried to keep it a secret.
Graduation Day (7:07) shines the spotlight on Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, and Tony Revolori as they discuss acting and their involvement with the MCU.
Enter Strange (5:04) focuses on Doctor Strange and his team-up with Spider-Man.
Weaving Jon Watts’ Web (7:18) is all about the director and how he interacts with the cast and crew.
Alternate Reality Easter Eggs (4:41) breaks down some of the call backs to previous films and hidden goodies throughout the movie.
A Multiverse of Miscreants (6:38) looks at bringing back previous villains and how they fit into the narrative of No Way Home.
A Meeting of the Spiders-Heroes Panel (7:23) is a quick sit-down interview with Maguire, Garfield, and Holland as they discuss the excitement of working with each other and the difficulties of putting on their superhero suits.
The Sinister Summit – Villains Panel (8:44) brings together Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, and Jamie Foxx as the talk about their characters and the changes since they last played them.
The Daily Bugle are three quick clips of J. Jonah Jameson’s coverage of Spider-Man. They are labeled “Spider-Menace Strikes Again” (1:15), “Web of Lies” (1:18), and “Spider Sycophant” (1:41).
Stunt Scene Pre-Vis blends rehearsal footage with the final film to show how the action scenes were put together.
Theatrical Marketing Materials are three brief promotional videos.
Rounding out the bonus materials are trailers for other Sony releases such as Uncharted, Morbius, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Unfortunately, the majority of the extras are typical EPK stuff without anything truly informative or substantial. Mini-documentaries about the making of the movie and the history of the Spider-Verse in different media would have been nice. Previously advertised deleted scenes are nowhere to be found.
FILM VALUE: 9
Spider-Man: No Way Home might have some viewers scratching their heads at weighty concepts like the multiverse and global forgetting spells. However, any quibbles with plot contrivances are quickly put aside by one of Marvel Studios’ best offerings. No Way Home serves as a love letter to the Spider-Man mythos while setting the table for the future of the franchise.