In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker’s identity is revealed to the entire world. As his life falls into chaos, his superhero responsibilities are putting those he cares about most at risk. When he seeks Doctor Strange’s help to fix his reality, the spell tears a hole in their dimension, allowing a number of sinister villains from various realities to wreak havoc in their world. Faced with his greatest challenge yet, Peter must rise to protect not only his own future, but the lives of those who are threatened by his actions.
Spider-Man: No Way Home utilises its narrative structure in an unconventional approach, one that is dependent on the audiences’ familiarity with the filmography of our friendly neighbourhood you-know-who. Like an artist’s greatest-hits box set for fans who already own every album by the artist, the ninth entry in the Spider-Man film series is best appreciated by fans who are already familiar with all the previous instalments.
Connecting Tom Holland’s iteration of Spider-Man with a rogue’s gallery of villains already introduced at various points in the character’s two-decades-spanning filmography, there is plenty that is packed into the film’s 148 minutes runtime. Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home is an enthralling ride that succeeds not only as a a celebration of the beloved Marvel icon, but a superhero entry that re-examines the notion of heroism.
Masterfully navigating the cobwebs that comes with its intricate narrative structure, Tom Holland shines once again as the iconic webhead. Delivering his best performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man yet, Holland undergoes an emotionally charged journey that rivals the gravitas of predecessors such as Spider-Man 2 and Into the Spider-Verse. In a sequel that is overcharged with mind-bending visual extravaganza and MCU level action sequences, Holland’s performance keeps the film grounded and prevents it from spiralling out of control.
A superhero film is only as good as its villain (in this case, villains). Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Ock shine as Spider-Man: No Way Home explores the tragic dimension of their characters as well as their capacity for redemption. However, the other three antagonists are relatively underwhelming, as the film does little to add to their original incarnations.
The dynamic between the antagonists and the beloved webhead is the root of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s success. The film goes to great lengths in showcasing why Peter is not like the other heroes we have seen in the MCU. His empathy is masterfully woven into the storyline in a way that doesn’t feel forced or unearned, but instead drives home the core of every great Spider-Man story: with great power comes great responsibility.
In a surprisingly emotional superhero adventure that manages to provide both fan service and breezy entertainment, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a monumental achievement in serialised storytelling. A perfect harmony between Sunday morning cartoon fun and compelling MCU emotional drama, the film is a testament to the everlasting appeal of the character. Exhilarating, emotional, and epic, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a celebration of the beloved wall-crawler’s cinematic legacy.