A Tangled Web – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Football season has gotten the better of me and I’ve been lacking in my duties with the movies, but I am going to make some headway this week. The latest MCU film is the biggest movie in the world and the biggest of the year, grossing over $1-billion worldwide so far. Spider-Man: No Way Home brings a lot of emotional depth to its spectacular action and pays homage to the cinematic history that came before it.

By this point, most people who wanted to see this film have done so, and perhaps even more than once by now, but I am still going to keep this short, sweet, and hopefully spoiler-free.

Plenty of movies come with hype, but few have the kind of gargantuan buzz that this film does. I had seen some big spoilers leaked from the set but, even so, there was still so much to enjoy that I barely even noticed. That speaks volumes. Into the Spider-Verse raised the bar and No Way Home answered.

Jon Watts returned to finish the first MCU Spider-Man trilogy that he started with Homecoming and continued with Far From Home, and he certainly raised the bar to a level that I don’t think most anyone could have anticipated. It was nice to see Watts remain in the director’s chair throughout this series of films because that so rarely happens at this level. It tells me that he cares about both the characters and the fans, that he wants to do right by both of them, and that’s what ultimately comes across on screen.

The trailer shows that this new film folds in some of Spidey’s cinematic history, but it’s not just a cash-grab fan service approach to that history (which they totally could have gotten away with, btw). Watts, along with screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, took the time to embrace the history of the characters they brought into this story and honor their respective emotional curves as though they were part of it all along. For example, it’s one thing to bring Alfred Molina back as Dr. Octopus (predominantly featured in the trailer) but it’s an entirely different thing to honor his existing character arc and give him closure. It’s ambitious and brilliant.

Of course, Tom Holland has become the new face of the MCU and he’s a great Peter Parker. We also get more fleshed-out versions of Zendaya’s MJ, Jacob Batalon’s Ned, and especially Marisa Tomei’s (Aunt) May Parker. There is just a more substantial emotional and personal tone to the whole film.

Between the typical Spider-Man action we’ve become accustomed to and the reality-bending magic of Dr. Strange, it’s one of, if not, the most impressive works of visual effects ever put on screen. It has all the hallmarks of the traditional MCU films and then some. A welcome and much-needed palate cleanser post Eternals.

Given all the hype, I had a tough time believing it could possibly be as good as people were saying but they were right in the end. No Way Home is insanely enjoyable, especially for those who have followed Spider-Man’s entire cinematic journey, and it deserves to be in the conversation for Best Picture. I don’t hand out that kind of praise lightly.

Recommendation: Check any preconceived notions at the door and just enjoy yourself.

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