Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

With the new Spider-Man movie out, Lancer editor, Molly Norton, shares her review of the final entry in the Spider-Man Homecoming Trilogy.



*Also I will never be able to include everything, so I apologize if there are major points missing* 


Over our winter break on Dec. 17, Marvel and Sony released the much anticipated “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and in my opinion, it 100% lived up to the anticipation. 

Going into this movie I was worried that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker would be overshadowed by the mass amount of villains from past Spider-Man franchises or by the possible inclusion of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire; however, I was very much proven wrong. This is one of few Marvel Cinematic Universe entries that allowed time for their characters to sit with the copious amounts of loss the heroes often face in their movies. While yes, many agree that “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” had some of the most emotional scenes among the franchise such as major character deaths, I would argue the recent Spider-Man movie matches if not have more heartfelt and touching moments. 

After Aunt May -played by actress Marissa Tomei who reprised her role from previous films in the Homecoming Trilogy- is attacked in Peter’s first fight with the Green Goblin, we not only get Holland’s gut-wrenching performance as he realizes she is gone, we get his moment in the rain, in front of the billboard screens, as he sits with the fact that not only has he lost the only parental figure he has but is now being blamed for it as well. This really stood out apart from past death scenes in the MCU as we were able to see our hero sit with their emotions, rather than be forced to make a random comedic pass. 

Even the terribly depressing scene in the coffee shop with MJ and Ned after Doctor Strange cast the spell for everyone to forget Peter Parker, allowed us to sit in Peter’s emotions throughout that entire scene by using close-up shots of his face- as well as the, as I’ve said, wonderful performance from Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon. 

Honestly, this is what makes Spider-Man (and all variations of him) one of, if not the, most beloved and popular superheroes because he is relatable to the common person and while Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has encountered aliens, and blipped away for five years, his story remains true that he is just a young person trying to balance his superhero identity along with everyday struggles; including grief. His spider-human powers do not make him unsusceptible to the grand feelings of loss, which was highlighted in this movie. 

Speaking of his spider-powers, one of my favorite aspects of this movie was the depiction of his Spidey Sense. The technique was extremely reminiscent of 2019’s “Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse”, which is one of my favorite Spider-Man movies of all time, and partly for that exact reason: the Spidey Sense. The camera movement for that scene was also influenced, as admitted by director Jon Watts, by Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. 

The combination of these two things made for a very successful tension-filled and truly scary scene in Happy’s apartment as Norman Osborne begins to switch over into the Green Goblin. This brings me to my next point of Willem Dafoe constantly killing his performance as Norman once again. His performance in the original Spider-Man movie was impeccable and I can’t say much different for his reprise of the role in “No Way Home”. 

I never doubted the performances of the many actors returning as their roles from previous franchises, but I can say I was a little scared as to how easily the return of these iconic villains could have turned into a meaningless nostalgia-fest, but again, I was wrong. What I think worked so well for the inclusion of so many villains at once was the strategy of keeping them all in one place together, with the exception of Norman towards the end of the movie. It also helped that most fans knew these characters from previous movies so there was no need to include their backstory again. 

This does bring a little bit of criticism as I went back and rewatched the first two Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies after viewing NWH because I couldn’t quite remember them, and it is a little confusing as to when the original spell Doctor Strange cast “pulled” the villains from their dimensions to ours, but maybe I am missing something.  

Now, speaking of nostalgia-fests, I believe we should award Andrew Garfield an Oscar for so adamantly denying that he was in the movie because he had me fooled. The moment he walked through the portal the reactions of my theater might not have been as loud as “Endgame” opening night, but the pure joy I could feel in the atmosphere was unmatched. I never understood the hatred for “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise, I think the writing is a little off, but after seeing Andrew Garfield in “No Way Home”, it seems to have sold those on the fence. He truly stole the show every time he was on screen. 

Tobey Maguire’s entrance also had my theater left with great levels of excitement and in my opinion, though lots of others disagree, he seemed to step back into the role just fine, just a matured Peter Parker. One of the most enjoyable parts of having all three of them together, besides their incredible brother-like chemistry, is that we got to see Peter Parker at different moments of his life all at once. We had Tobey’s Spider-Man who settled down with Mary Jane Watson, Andrew’s Spidey who had just lost Gwen Stacey, and Tom Holland’s version who is dealing with something the others never had to: his identity being revealed while still dealing with high school friendships and relationships at the same time. 

The other two Spider-Men were added at the right time in the movie and didn’t overshadow Tom Holland, but added to the guidance of his character. Besides nostalgia, it was just beautiful to watch them all interact because it’s a storyline we’ve never seen before in the live-action Spider-Man movies. 

The final fight had some wonky CGI parts, but of course, underpaid CGI artists were working overtime to finish this movie, and it didn’t take away from the movie at all in my opinion. Garfield’s Spider-Man saving Zendaya’s MJ was another emotional movement that you would imagine would feel like fan service, but was the logical next step in his Spider-Man’s arc. 

Also, Holland’s Peter Parker completely beating the Goblin to a pulp was a new layer of violent and angry emotion we have never seen with his Spider-Man before, and Maguire’s Parker stopping him also made sense for his Spider-Man’s arc as we saw his Peter descend into anger, particularly during “Spider-Man 3”. 

This brings me to the heart-breaking end after we say goodbye to Garfield and Maguire and Peter must say his final words to Ned and MJ before they forget his existence. While this ending seems unnecessarily sad, this couldn’t be a more Spider-Man story as he is now unfortunately isolated from all making the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. I mentioned the coffee shop scene earlier, and my point still stands that the performance in the scene from Holland makes it have the emotional weight it ends up having. 

We then catch him moving into an apartment, seemingly working for his GED, and swinging through New York in his new, sewn, suit that combines both the TASM and original Spider-Man trilogy suits- he swings to Michael Giacchino’s powerful ending track. 

What’s in store for Peter next? Who knows with the possible inclusion of Venom and now that he starts his “adult” life. 

Of course, this movie doesn’t fix everything with many criticisms of the Homecoming Trilogy- even though I thoroughly enjoyed Holland’s first Spider-Man movie- as MCU Peter is still very resemblant of Miles Morales’s comic storylines. That aside, if you told me “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, accomplished all it did in one single movie, I wouldn’t believe you- but I am so glad I gave this movie a chance. 


Scenes I didn’t have time to mention but deserve some recognition:
– Peter’s fight with Doctor Strange that demonstrated the classic Spidey wit, and the smarts of Peter Parker. 

– The bridge fight with Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, which included the wonderful delivery of “You’re not Peter Parker”, which showed us how disorienting the meshing of universes was for the villains as well as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. 

– The opening swinging sequence with Peter and MJ was chaotic and as high stakes as it needed to be.

– How could I forget Matt Murdock’s cameo? Thank you, Charlie Cox.