MIA CANNIZZARO & LEO METZGER
A & E Editor and Editor-in-chief
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!!!
Spider-Man: No Way Home, is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and like the previous Marvel adaptations of Spider-Man, had an overwhelming sweep at the box office. With a global opening weekend of $600 million and a current standing of $1.37 billion (as of January 2, it secures its spot as the 12th highest-grossing movie of all-time. The movie is bold; filled with action and emotion while also providing Spider-Man fans with an immense feeling of nostalgia. It expands the MCU franchise while still capturing the true essence of Spider-Man.
Marvel Studios released four films in 2021, but Spider-Man: Now Way Home was by far the most ambitious. The movie had to juggle bringing back characters from previous films while also allowing the stars of the movie to shine. The movie covers a lot of ground, starting with the aftermath of the world finding out that MCU’s Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is Peter Parker. Picking up where Far From Home left off, we see Peter struggling to clear his name of the charges placed on him by Mysterio. Peter turns to Dr. Strange to find a spell to make people forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The spell would make everyone, including Peter’s loved ones, forget he is Spider-Man. After trying to change the spell mid-cast it explodes before being contained by Dr. Strange. Even though it was contained, it doesn’t stop villians from other Spider-Man franchises from seeping through the cracks into the MCU. After rounding up the villains, and finding out that they each die fighting Spider-Man in their respective universes, Peter and Dr. Strange disagree on how to proceed. Peter thinks they should try to cure the villains before sending them back, attempting to save their lives. Dr. Strange thinks they should send them back to their death and not meddle with other timelines. The beauty of this conflict is that it taps into the fundamental ideals of both Peter and Dr. Strange. What follows is a battle of epic proportions between Peter and Dr. Strange which spans multiple dimensions and is complimented by an exciting score. After Peter wins using his geometry knowledge, he embarks on the journey to cure each villain. In his attempt to cure them, Green Goblin escapes and kills Aunt May. Peter is overtaken by rage and hatred for Goblin, and needs to be restrained from killing him in the final battle. After the death of Aunt May, Peter meets the other two Peter’s and they work together to cure all of the villains and send them back to their universes. In the commotion, the original spell from Dr. Strange is released and it threatens to let in countless more villains from countless universes. Peter makes the selfless decision to have Dr. Strange recast the spell and has everyone forget that he is Spider-Man. And thus, Peter is once again just a kid from Queens, with no connection to the Avengers.
Spider-Man: No Way Home hosts some of the best acting performances in the history of the MCU. Alfred Molina, who plays Dr. Otto Octavius, is a prime example of this. He truly gives himself to his character and wonderfully portrays a very complex character. His passion for the character is evident and every line he speaks is given his full effort. Both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their roles as Spider-Man and do so gloriously. Both do a fantastic job and stay true to their versions of the character, but Andrew Garfield is on another level. His love for the character is impossible to miss and he exudes charisma. His delivery and body language exerts Peter Parker in every scene he’s a part of. While the acting is solid all around, Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin) completely steals the show. He is the most menacing and utterly terrifying villain arguably in MCU history. Green Goblin has no motives for his killing other than it being fun, and this couldn’t clash more with Peter’s ideals. He is the perfect Anti-Peter. Dafoe’s facial expressions and vocals make the character uncomfortably real and puts a face to the terrifying mind of Green Goblin. While Dafoe is a showstopper, Tom Holland puts on his best performance yet. He goes through a lot in this movie, and he makes you feel it. He is able to hold long lingering shots of just his face, which is incredible to watch and thoroughly painful. The outstanding acting of this film is above the usual MCU standard, and makes it much more difficult to disengage from the story.
From the trailer and other promotional material, the audience knew that notorious villains from previous Spider-Man films would be making an appearance in this movie. However, the build-up and anticipation surrounding the inclusion of past portrayals of the character: Spider-Man – by acclaimed actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield – was perhaps the biggest incentive for fans to show up to the theaters. The public had begun to speculate that they would return for this film, but nobody was certain. Seeing all three Spider-Men on the screen was heartfelt for many viewers as they felt nostalgic seeing the heroes they grew up watching, combined with new ones, taking the screen together. They perfectly captured each Spider-Man of the trio and their individual personalities from their respective films. The director, Jon Watts, did an impeccable job conveying this to the audience. He has directed the previous Marvel adaptations of Spider-Man, and it’s no surprise that his leadership paid off in this one as well.
Aside from the inclusion of multiple Spider-Man’s, the movie managed to fit in another tie-in to the ever-growing MCU. Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, portrayed by Charlie Cox, had a short cameo in the film that left fans very excited to see him involved in the MCU. Daredevil has his own show on Netflix, which was canceled in late 2018, so it’s safe to say fans were anxiously awaiting his return. There isn’t much news about what this means for the future of the MCU but many fans are content with his scene that showcases his personality. However, fans have begun to spark their own theories since the character Kingpin was introduced in Disney+’s Hawkeye, as he was an important figure in the Daredevil series as well. In addition, the second post-credit scene showed the trailer for Marvel’s next big project, Doctor Strange: Multi-Verse of Madness. The trailer has since been released to the public for all to see as it has been about five years since the release of the last Doctor Strange installment. Along with the theme of bringing characters together, this trailer revealed Elizabeth Olsen’s, Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, would be making her return to the big screen in this film. Fans last saw Maximoff in her Emmy-nominated Disney+ series WandaVision which was a crowd-favorite among all audiences. Rumors claim this movie is heading towards the three hour mark similar to none other than Avengers: Endgame and they’re hoping for an appearance from Loki. While nothing is confirmed aside from what we see in the trailer, this movie is ready to launch the next generation of Marvel films to come.
Spider-Man is one of the most beloved superheroes of all time. Three generations of fans have grown up watching one rendition of the comic book hero. At his core, Spider-Man isn’t a character who has powerful technology and overpowers opponents. He uses his brain and unique abilities to outsmart and out-maneuver and out-think villains. After Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter is back to square one without strong connections or fancy tech. It’s him, his webs, and his brains. No Way Home is a record breaking movie and one of the best released by Marvel Studios. Marvel couldn’t have ended the year with a bigger hit, and couldn’t have provided a greater service to their fans. This movie has something for everyone to enjoy, which is a part of it’s record breaking box office numbers. It will be difficult for Marvel to match this standard again, but no matter what they produce in the future it will be a success.