The most highly anticipated movie of the year, Spider-Man: No Way Home, finally crawled its way to theaters December 16. It’s been long-awaited internationally, and the internet has spent months theorizing based on the many
leaks rumors, receiving many comparisons to Avengers: Endgame during press. Anticipation and expectations were through the roof, and yet the creative team behind this movie was able to deliver a movie that not only met those expectations but exceeded them. The 2-hour 28-minute long movie is crammed full, but manages to not feel too full.
Before I dive into why, I will simply state that I loved this movie. I was always going to love this movie, seeing as I have been a Spider-Man fan for decades and genuinely enjoy every chance to see him on screen. I didn’t expect to love it this much, though, and yet I find that No Way Home has crawled its way to the number one spot in my Marvel Cinematic Universe ranking.
Even if you’re not a die-hard Spidey-fan like me, I am confident you will love this movie just the same. Director Jon Watts included something for everyone in this third installment, from surreal magic and effects scenes, to tactical and intense fight choreography, John Hughes-ian teenage interactions between Peter Parker and his best friends, and nearly the entire range of human emotion. No Way Home pays tribute to the long-standing theme of Spider-Man stories: Peter Parker must face unbelievable foes as Spider-Man, but he must also face the struggles of a teenage boy trying to build a future and shape his life. And, as to be expected of any Marvel installment, the cameo appearances never disappoint.
The writing for this movie, with so much content to get through, was nearly flawless. I generally have at least one cringe moment due to dialogue in superhero films, but that didn’t happen to me during this movie. Every word spoken by every character seemed to be so intentionally written and delivered. The pacing for this movie was great and well-planned, giving audiences breaks from heavy emotion when needed and providing humor to alleviate the lingering depth. The movie truly built up to all of the right moments at a pace that was easy to follow and process. As always, there were multiple nods to past Avengers, but the presence of these other Avengers was not overbearing, and as a result the movie still feels like a Spider-Man movie as it should, unlike some of the previous Spidey MCU installments feeling too heavily weighed down by the presence of other heroes.
We get to see more of New York City in this movie, which I feel was important following a Spider-Man movie primarily set in Europe. As I mentioned before, the magical presence in the movie provides numerous visually stunning scenes, yet we also get a look at some different beauty in everyday NYC. In addition to a wonderful world design, the character designs for this movie are spectacular, providing some of the best costumes and suits we’ve seen from the MCU so far. Michael Giacchino‘s score for the movie adds so much to the experience, providing the exact themes and emotions whenever needed.
The cast delivers every single minute of this film. Tom Holland delivers his best performance to date with No Way Home, proving he understands not only what it means to be in a superhero film but, more specifically, what it means to be in a Spider-Man film. Holland demonstrates his capability as an action actor, but also proves that he can dig deep to access and perform truly raw emotions. Over the course of this movie, we see him grow more than in any other installment he is featured in in the MCU, from a selfish teenager to a responsible and selfless young man. The movie provides plenty of time wall-crawling as Spider-Man and dealing with non-hero life as Peter. He learns within the Multiversal madness that great power truly does come with great responsibility.
Zendaya returns as Michelle Jones and proves the depths she is able to dive to for her characters, delivering a magnetic performance that will grip audience’s hearts and minds. Peter is also joined by his man-in-the-chair Ned Leeds once again, with Jacob Batalon delivering exactly the performance he needed to. Both Batalon and Zendaya deliver humor exactly when needed and access those deeper emotions when appropriate. Ultimately, these two provide what is in my opinion the best performance and depiction of Spider-Man companions that we have seen on the big screen thus far.
Peter couldn’t have gotten through this movie with just his fellow teenagers, however. He needed the guidance and presence of some adults who understand the position he is in and care about him. With no spoilers, the values of Aunt May are ever-present throughout the entirety of the film, with Marisa Tomei delivering a gripping emotional performance. In addition to the absolutely necessary Aunt May, Benedict Cumberbatch returns to his role as Doctor Strange for the film. While May provides Peter with an optimistic outlook on life and the people around him, Strange delivers much more pragmatic and logic-rooted guidance.
While the protagonist cast nailed their performances, the antagonist cast truly stole the show. Featuring the return of two of the best comic-book villain castings, Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius and Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborne, the return of villains from past Spider-Man representations was one of the most highly-anticipated parts of the film. Molina and Dafoe were joined by Jaime Foxx returning as Max Dillon/Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as the Lizard and Sandman. Foxx got the chance to redeem some of the wrongs done to his character in TASM2 and delivers an electric and clever performance. Molina once again proves that he is the only actor that should play Otto Octavius, proving that he hasn’t lost his touch on the character since he last brought him to the big screen. Dafoe once again delivers a frighteningly good Green Goblin and at 66-years-old manages to perform some of the best hand-to-hand combat we have seen in the MCU thus far.
Spider-Man: No Way Home wraps up the MCU’s Peter Parker high school trilogy in a way that would make Stan Lee proud.
If you need some help with that mid-credits scene, you can read our explanation of that scene here. There are spoilers for the movie in that article, so be aware of that going in! The rest of our Spider-Man: No Way Home coverage can be found here. Let us know what you thought of the movie (spoiler free!) in the comments and on Twitter.