Hero or Menace?

Spider-Man: No Way Home is the culmination of everything amazing and spectacular about Spider-Man. As the twenty-seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: No Way Home dealt with the aftermath of Peter Parker losing his secret identity. Far From Home ended on such a big cliffhanger that any Marvel fan would be desperate to see the outcome. Disney came dangerously close to losing Spider-Man when the ever present Sony decided to cut ties with producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. Barely a month went by after Far From Home was released that the terrible news was announced. I hated the thought of a third Spider-Man movie made by Sony and I wasn’t alone. Thankfully Tom Holland convinced both studios to come to their spidey-senses.

No Way Home is the best experience I had in a movie theater since Avengers: Endgame. It’s everything a Spider-Man fan could possibly ask for. I know there are people who will say Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the best, but No Way Home balances nostalgia and fan services with a thoroughly entertaining story. Which is why No Way Home became the first movie since the Pandemic to gross well over a billion dollars at the box-office. Proof that fans and general moviegoers know what they want to see in theaters. Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were great standalone movies, but they aren’t exactly required viewing just yet. Unlike No Way Home, Eternals failed because no one cared who or what an Eternal was. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero and No Way Home is the movie I’ve been waiting 19 years for…

57. Spider-Man No Way Home

Spider-Men stand together

Spider-Man: No Way Home is the fourth Phase Four movie released in 2021. It was delayed twice from July to November, and finally December. Making No Way Home the first live action Spider-Man movie released during Christmas season instead of the summer. Into the Spider-Verse was also a December movie, but it grossed little more than $300 million. The difference is No Way Home was live action, a sequel, an MCU movie, and had major fan expectations that all payed off. Jon Watts became the first MCU director to direct all three movies in his trilogy. The reason they didn’t wait until 2022 is because every installment in the MCU Spider-Man trilogy was released 2 years after the next. Since the cast wouldn’t stay young forever, they couldn’t wait like other MCU sequels. Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up immediately after the mid-credits scene in Far From Home. Mysterio’s revenge recording can be heard during the opening logos for Sony, Columbia Pictures, and Marvel Studios. Spider-Man movies are once again the only place to see the webhead in the Marvel logo.

When Peter Parker’s identity is revealed, his “What the f-” exclamation is suddenly cut off by a horn. As expected, The Daily Bugle paints Spider-Man as a menace and public enemy #1. Some New Yorkers continue to love Spidey, but others believe he was responsible for Mysterio’s drone attack. It’s a fast-paced and fun sequence where Peter frantically swings MJ all around New York city. Rogers: The Musical can be seen in the background. Ned can only react with “Dude!” and Flash’s world is turned upside down when he discovers the classmate he hates is also the hero he loves. When they return to Peter’s apartment, Aunt May and Happy are in the middle of a breakup. Only to be interrupted by Peter and MJ in a very awkward position. The MCU Spider-Man movies have always had surprisingly funny sex jokes. In only one take, Aunt May and Happy discover the apartment is being watched by people who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. After their brief appearance in Homecoming, the Department of Damage Control return to investigate Spider-Man’s superhero activity and the Stark technology that he used.

Peter, MJ, Ned, and Aunt May are all interrogated by head DODC Agent Cleary played by Arian Moayed. You can see more from him in Ms. Marvel. Peter discovers Nick Fury was off world the entire time, but you’ll have to get your answers in Secret Invasion. Tom Holland’s popularity only increased since playing the friendly neighborhood wallcrawler. Despite taking on more mature roles, Holland is still the most lovable lighthearted Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Though he’s dealt with loss before, No Way Home pushes Peter to his absolute limit. I was never crazy about Michelle Jones essentially replacing Mary Jane, but MJ is given the comic accurate last name Watson. She just doesn’t go by the name for some reason. MJ working in a coffee shop is also a clever nod to previous Mary Jane portrayals. Zendaya has grown more confident in the role without losing her cynical sense of humor. Euphoria is of course her biggest role since joining the MCU.

Jacob Batalon lost a lot of weight to reprise his role as Ned Leeds. Fans assumed it was done so he could become the Hobgoblin like the comics, but there’s no specific reason for it. Marisa Tomei has her biggest role yet as Peter’s supportive Aunt May. Though Cleary calls her out for child endangerment, May makes the biggest impact on Peter’s life. Since Peter is facing serious legal trouble, there was only one Man without Fear who could clear him of all charges only 8 minutes into the movie. I got my entire theater to cheer the moment Matt Murdock put down his walking stick. Every Marvel fan knew the blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen was the only lawyer who could represent a fellow superhero. Charlie Cox reprising his role from the critically acclaimed Netflix Daredevil was the best decision Marvel Studios could possibly make. The timing was perfect since Vincent D’Onofrio reprised his role as Kingpin the same week on Hawkeye. Though it would’ve been awesome to see Daredevil fighting side-by-side with Spider-Man, I’ll settle for Matt using his radar sense to catch a brick before Peter has a chance to.

The scene is equally ironic considering Jon Favreau actually started his Marvel journey playing fellow attorney Foggy Nelson in Daredevil (2003). Happy is the only borrowed Iron Man character who consistently appears in all three Spider-Man movies. Peter’s teenage antics annoyed him at first, but he grew to really care for him and his aunt. Happy lets them stay at his condo complete with Stark robots and a mysterious crate. Before school starts, Peter and MJ have a loving conversation over the phone about people knowing he’s Spider-Man. Since Tom Holland and Zendaya are dating in real life, their chemistry is off the charts. I’ll admit I enjoy watching them flirt in interviews, but Jacob Batalon always feels like a third wheel. Peter, MJ, and Ned finally feel like a trio after they all discovered his identity at different times. The rest of Spider-Man’s supporting cast is severely scaled back compared to their prominent role in Far From Home. Angourie Rice only has one scene in the theatrical cut where Betty Brant calls Peter “Tiger” in a reference to Mary Jane’s nickname for him in the comics.

Betty has a much bigger role in The More Fun Stuff Version where she does reporting throughout the movie. There were also TikTok videos with Betty as a Daily Bugle intern. Speaking of thedailybugle.net, J. K. Simmons reprises his iconic role as J. Jonah Jameson from the Sam Raimi trilogy. His unexpected cameo was a welcomed surprise in Far From Home, but sadly this version of Jameson isn’t as fun as the original. Aside from keeping his bald head, this J. Jonah Jameson is a fake news host working out of his home before being promoted to a TV studio. He’s also more ruthless in his attempt to expose Spider-Man as a menace. Flash Thompson is the only classmate with more than one scene in the theatrical cut. Though he was never right for the part, Tony Revolori at least goes a step further by dying his hair blonde like the Flash in the comics. Flash somehow managed to write and publish his own book declaring himself Spider-Man’s best friend. Flashpoint is an ironic title considering DC’s Flash uses the same title.

Midtown School of Science and Technology teachers are given exactly one scene to shine. Scene stealing duo Martin Starr and J. B. Smoove as Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell respectively consider Parker to be a hero. Hannibal Buress returns as Coach Wilson from Homecoming and believes Mysterio was right. It’s a funny scene, but the rest of the school gives Peter even more unwanted attention. So Peter and MJ hideout on the roof of Midtown where their romantic moment is interrupted by Ned. Since it’s now Senior Year, Peter, MJ, and Ned consider college applications. Although Peter attends Empire State University in the comics, they all have their sights set on MIT. Unfortunately, Ned and MJ’s association with Spider-Man causes them all to get rejected. A Halloween decoration gives Peter the idea to seek help from the Master of the Mystic Arts. My only minor criticism of the Home trilogy is Sony’s reliance on pre-existing MCU characters that they prominently feature in their marketing. Homecoming had Iron Man & Captain America, Far From Home had Nick Fury & Maria Hill, and No Way Home has Doctor Strange & Wong.

In order to avoid spoilers, the teaser trailer leaned heavily into Peter’s exposed identity and Doctor Strange being a driving force of the movie. I won’t complain since I’m always happy to see Strange giving magical assistance to his fellow Marvel superheroes. The combination of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange is enough to make Stan Lee & Steve Ditko proud. Peter enters a Sanctum Sanctorum covered in snow due to a blizzard that blew in through a portal. Wong and Doctor Strange show up wearing winter coats and revealing that the latter is no longer Sorcerer Supreme. Wong becoming Sorcerer Supreme after Strange blipped feels wrong to me, but I’ll have to accept it for now. Benedict Wong makes the most of his brief appearance after his extended role in Shang-Chi. Benedict Cumberbatch has a much more hands on role after finishing his obligation to Sherlock. Strange insists Peter call him Stephen after everything they’ve been through in Infinity War and Endgame.

No Way Home is a surprise adaptation of one of the most hated storylines in Spider-Man history. “One more Day” is a 4 part 2007 storyline where Peter makes a deal with the devil (Mephisto) in order to save Aunt May’s life. The only cost is his marriage to Mary Jane. Peter is totally out of character in the comic, but the movie doesn’t go that far. Mephisto is replaced by Doctor Strange when Peter requests using time travel to prevent Mysterio from revealing his identity. Without the Time Stone, Strange recommends a mind altering spell instead. It feels out of character for the strait-laced Doctor Strange, but the movie makes him appear less reckless than the trailer. Wong simply stays out of the spell while Strange helps Peter in the Runes of Kaf-Kol. An underground magical lair that an episode of The Equalizer was apparently filmed in. Strange intends to cast a spell where the entire world will forget Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Though it’s an odd way to set up the conflict of the movie, Peter tampering with the spell by letting some people keep their memory is what causes a rift in the multiverse.

The multiverse is the new hot topic in the MCU. Doctor Strange used the term for the first time and explored a few alternate dimensions. Endgame went a step further by having the Avengers travel through time using the Quantum Realm that opened up new realities. Mysterio claimed to be from Earth-833, but any self respecting Marvel fan knew he was lying. Loki did a deep dive of the multiverse that opened up a variety of vague alternate realities. What If…? was exclusively about scenarios where reality could’ve been different based on choice. Although Multiverse of Madness was nearly released first, No Way Home became the first MCU movie to explore the multiverse in a substantial way. Strange contains his multiverse crossing spell and scolds Peter for his immaturity. I’ll admit I never knew you could reason with a university when they don’t accept you. Peter does exactly that after asking help from Flash who wants to be swung to school. Paula Newsome plays the Assistant Vice Chancellor of MIT that Peter finds on a bridge.

Peter wears his Iron Spider suit since his red & black costume was ruined when some jerk threw green paint on it. The full deleted scene contains a cameo from Holland’s real life brother Harry. When Peter’s spider-sense goes off, he’s greeted by the first of five sinister supervillains from the Sam Raimi trilogy and Marc Webb films. Although I would’ve been fine with a third installment where Kraven the Hunter hunts a fugitive Spider-Man, I can’t pass up the chance to see several actors play characters I thought I’d never see again. No Way Home continues the “Home” tradition that fans were trying to figure out for months. The title refers to all the villains who have no way of returning home to their own universe. Promoting the movie was a hassle since not knowing about the returning villains would’ve been an awesome reveal. The poster and trailers confirmed several surprise appearances. The audience cheered the moment four mechanical tentacles belonging to Doctor Octopus made their presence known. Doc Ock saying “Hello, Peter” was the perfect way to end the teaser trailer.

Alfred Molina returns 17 years after his role in Spider-Man 2. Doc Ock was easily one of the best villains in one of the best superhero movies. The 67 year old Molina is just as angry and dramatic in the part. Doc Ock’s green trench coat and shades remain intact, but his tentacles are now entirely CGI. Molina was digitally de-aged since Dr. Otto Octavius is ripped straight from the end of Spider-Man 2. Doc Ock’s motivations are the same since he mentions his machine that harnesses “The power of the sun.” Peter is understandably confused, but he fights back when his girlfriend is threatened. The Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock bridge fight is instantly one of the better fights in the MCU trilogy. It’s on par with all of Doc Ock’s fights in Spider-Man 2. Of course they couldn’t pass up the chance to have the four Iron Spider legs go against Doc Ock’s four tentacles. Spider-Man saves civilians and manages to rescue the Vice Chancellor. When Doc Ock gains the upper hand, he integrates the nanotechnology from the Iron Spider suit onto his tentacles.

Octavius is equally confused when Peter reveals himself to be Tom Holland. Doc Ock is only defeated when Peter manages to control the tentacles with his suit. It’s a humorous, but effective moment that ends with Peter and his friends being accepted into MIT. Celebration will have to wait when Peter quickly encounters his next visiting villain. Everyone cheered the moment a pumpkin bomb entered the screen. When the Green Goblin arrived on his glider, I couldn’t resist imitating his iconic evil laugh. The only downside to bringing back old villains is having to deal with their original designs or costumes. The armored Green Goblin suit and facial restricting mask were never a good decision, but I couldn’t deny the nostalgia I felt. They even do another talking mask sequence before Norman Osborn smashes it to pieces. Willem Dafoe returns 19 years after his role in Spider-Man. Dafoe was so perfect for Green Goblin that I’m glad he was given a second chance to show what he was capable of. His digital de-aging is a lot better than it was in Aquaman.

Unfortunately, Peter is transported back to the Sanctum before he has a chance to fight the flying green elf. Doctor Strange locks Doctor Octopus in his wizard’s dungeon along with the Lizard that he managed to track down in the sewers off-screen. Rhys Ifans sort of returns 9 years after his role in The Amazing Spider-Man. Dr. Curt Connors is only seen in Lizard form since Ifans was apparently unavailable. We’re kind of stuck with a snoutless Lizard that’s only a passable CGI recreation of his first appearance. Strange instrucks Peter to track down the rest of the villains while he figures out a way to reverse the spell. Although it’s a cringy line (censored for the trailer), Peter, MJ, and Ned use their Scooby Doo skills inside the Undercroft of the Sanctum Sanctorum. They track the next two villains on a power grid in the forest. Spider-Man’s stealth black & gold suit is just his original costume turned inside out to hide the paint. The spider suit is equipped with an enchanted gauntlet that Peter uses to teleport the villains into captivity.

Despite appearing in the worst reviewed Spider-Man movie, I got chills the moment Electro apparated on screen. Jamie Foxx returns 7 years after his role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Max Dillon’s past as an awkward nerd who wanted to be seen isn’t ignored, but his blue Ultimate appearance was the most in need of a makeover. Foxx was too big a name not to show his face. Spider-Man has trouble getting hold of Electro until he’s helped by Sandman. Thomas Haden Church sort of returns 14 years after his role in Spider-Man 3. Like Ifans, Church was similarly unavailable in person. It makes sense to have Connors in Lizard form the entire time, but I’m not sure why Flint Marko is sand the entire time. Despite the divisive nature of Spider-Man 3, the sudden appearance of Sandman was also a welcomed sight. His willingness to help Peter lines up with his sympathetic portrayal, but even Marko breaks bad when Dillon is transported to the dungeon wearing a yellow fireman uniform. Peter only finds Norman at the F.E.A.S.T. outreach shelter wearing a purple hoodie and green jacket. Norman makes mention of Oscorp Industries, his son Harry, and the darker half that he managed to keep in check…

58. Spider-Man No Way Home

Doctor Strange removes Peter’s astral form

Bringing the five best villains from five different Spider-Man movies together is the closest we may ever come to a live action Sinister Six. Since Spider-Man villains are often better than villains in the MCU, it’s a real treat seeing them act off eachother. Of course there’s no room for Topher Grace’s’ Venom, James Franco’s New Goblin, Dane Dehaan’s Green Goblin, or Paul Giamatti’s Rhino. Vulture, Shocker, or Mysterio couldn’t complete the Sinister Six since they’re all part of the current universe. Since they have shared history at Oscorp, we get to see Osborn and Octavius interact for the first time. Dillon has a similar shared history with Connors at their version of Oscorp. Since the villains are all science based, they each have varying reactions to magic being real. Octavius points out the fact that Osborn died and Marko fills in the blanks of Octavius dying as well. Dillon figures out he was about to die and Connors questions whether or not he dies.

No Way Home is a perfect viewing experience, but it does have a few plot holes for the sake of bringing everyone together. The villains only came to the MCU since they know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Although Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Sandman, and the Lizard all found out Spider-Man’s secret identity, Electro never found out who Peter was. Osborn, Octavius, and Dillon all died fighting Spider-Man, but Marko and Connors both survived their movies. It doesn’t always line up, but you learn to accept those inconsistencies. Strange returns with an ancient relic called the Macchina di Kadavus that will allow him to reverse the spell. When Peter begins to rethink May’s advice to rehabilitate the villains rather than send them home to die, he chooses to web up the magic box and imprison Strange. It begins a hero vs. hero fight where Doctor Strange removes Peter’s astral form. Somehow his spider-sense keeps Strange from grabbing the box. Strange uses his sling ring, Cloak of Levitation, and the Mirror Dimension in an attempt to subdue the wallcrawler. Liz Allan can be seen on a magazine calling Peter a liar.

The Mirror Dimension sequence is on par with its impressive use in Doctor Strange. It was enough to earn No Way Home an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Even though it deserved so much more. New York is folded in even more mind-bending shapes that include a train and the Grand Canyon. Being a Spider-Man movie, I never expected Doctor Strange to win, but he hasn’t felt truly powerful since Infinity War. Peter actually uses math to trap Strange in a web that keeps him locked in the Mirror Dimension for the remainder of the movie. He uses the time to figure out cures for the villains who willingly volunteer for the experiment. Norman calls back to the line “I’m something of a scientist myself” since it became a funny meme. MJ and Ned agree to take the box while Peter and May treat the villains at Happy’s condo. Since technology is so much more advanced in the MCU, Peter uses a Stark fabricator to construct cures with Norman’s help. May gets her funny moment when she refers to Octavius as an octopus by offering him salt water. Connors stays behind for unknown reasons, but it would be kind of difficult to sneak a giant lizard into an apartment building.

Dillon starts to like the person he’s become, but Marko wants to go home to his daughter. They both bond over their similar origins of falling into things. Jameson only becomes relevant again when he tries to get more dirt on Spider-Man. Octavius is cured when they fix his inhibitor chip and Molina’s performance sells his gratitude. Returning the Iron Spider’s nanotechnology is what creates the integrated spider suit that blends the giant gold spider symbol with his red & black costume. Peter focuses his attention on Dillon by giving him a device that will drain his electricity. Peter’s spider-sense going off in a room full of villains is a tense moment that could have a number of outcomes. Dafoe seamlessly goes from sympathetic Norman to psychotic Green Goblin in a matter of minutes. He gives an all time best villain performance since we actually get to see his face. Dafoe continuing to smile and laugh maniacally after being punched repeatedly is truly terrifying. Green Goblin’s motivation is similar to the one he had in Spider-Man. He tells the villains to embrace their power and exploits Peter’s virtue for weakness.

Electro removes his power draining device and zaps the newly cured Octavius out the window. Sandman disappears and Lizard attacks Peter after escaping their truck. The fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin is brutal and it only ends when they crash through every floor of the building. Green Goblin finally starts to look a little closer to his comic book counterpart with a tattered purple hood and his battle damaged green armor. May using the failed serum on Osborn would’ve been a good way to give him green skin. SPOILER ALERT! Green Goblin proves exactly why he’s Spider-Man’s archenemy when he blames May for Peter’s crusade. He clips her with his glider and throws a pumpkin bomb that Peter barely deflects. May somehow survives the attack long enough to finally tell Peter “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” I gasped with excitement since cheering felt inappropriate. I’m just glad the iconic line was saved for a more impactful moment. In a sad twist of fate, Aunt May is the one who dies instead of Uncle Ben. Peter and Happy are devastated, but they aren’t given time to grieve when Damage Control ambushes them.

Jameson spins the story in a way that makes Spider-Man look like the one who caused the attack. It’s an extremely dramatic scene in the rain that shows how far Holland is willing to go. Back at Ned’s house, MJ considers activating the box. My heart started racing the moment Ned somehow manages to open a portal with the sling ring that he kept. The portal opening role was meant for America Chavez, but there’s more than enough characters already. So Ned was given vague magical history instead. My entire theater erupted with applause the moment a different Spider-Man jumped through a portal revealing himself to be Andrew Garfield. Then we cheered even louder the moment Tobey Maguire walked through the next portal. Every single Marvel fan was convinced all three Spider-Men were in the movie. Speculation got so out of hand that Holland, Garfield, Maguire and the rest of the cast had to outright deny the fact. I’m so glad they managed to pull it off, because every Spider-Man actor has something good to offer the webslinger.

Andrew Garfield returns 7 years after his tenure ended in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Garfield was always given the short end of the stick, even though his portrayal captured the angst and sense of humor that Spider-Man is known for. Garfield always seemed a little bitter about moving on from the role, but he made a name for himself in Oscar caliber film roles. His return performance almost completely steals the show. Ned and MJ are confused to see another Peter Parker, so they make him stick to the ceiling and crawl around. It’s a hilarious scene with MJ throwing bread and an unexpected role for Ned’s Tagalog speaking Lola. Garfield is already wearing the improved costume he wore in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but Maguire shows up in civilian clothing. Tobey Maguire returns 14 years after his tenure ended in Spider-Man 3. The original will always be the version I love most from my childhood. Maguire captured the intelligence, humanity, and heroism that made me love Spider-Man so much. Maguire’s return was the biggest question mark since he hasn’t had a physical acting role since 2014. Most of his time was spent producing, narrating The Boss Baby, and staying out of the limelight. Spider-Man memes were the only thing that kept him relevant until his inevitable return. It’s great to see Maguire again, but he is a lot older and his acting can be a little rusty.

Spider-Man coming face to face with another Spider-Man is an awesome moment where they flip around and shoot webs at each other. Both Peter’s agree that MCU Peter needs their help and they discuss similar places that they go to get away. Maguire has the Chrysler Building, Garfield has the Empire State Building, and Holland has Midtown High. Ned and MJ hug the grieving Peter and he comes face to face with the silhouette of fellow Spider-Men. Some people assumed Maguire and Garfield would be last minute cameos, but they are very much major characters given top-billing. Both Peter’s have experienced loss that motivated them as superheroes. Maguire talks about Uncle Ben’s death and the carjacker that he let fall to his death. Garfield talks about Gwen Stacy’s death and the rage he felt fighting crime as Spider-Man. No Way Home is the closest thing to a Spider-Man 4 and The Amazing Spider-Man 3 for the characters, but this is still Tom Holland’s movie. The more world weary Spider-Men encourage the broken down Peter when he says “With great power comes great responsibility.” Although Garfield never heard those specific words, they both agree Aunt May didn’t die for nothing.

Together all three Peter’s use their scientific expertise to finish the cures he was working on. It’s a cool scene where we get to catch up with the Peter’s we haven’t seen in years. Maguire tells Ned about his best friend Harry who became a villain before he died. It’s a fun reference to Ned possibly becoming Hobgoblin. In terms of their love life, Peter never found love after Gwen, but there’s always hope. Despite all their drama, Peter and Mary Jane eventually managed to make their relationship work. Neither Kirsten Dunst nor Emma Stone appear since there’s no room for them. I was just happy to see the iconic Spider-Man pointing meme recreated when Ned calls out to Peter. As they prepare to “cure some ass,” Garfield and Holland load up their web cartridges. Aside from being the only American Spider-Man actor, Maguire is also the only webslinger with organic webbing. Revealing his iconic original costume underneath is something I never thought I’d see on the big screen again. Much like X-Men (2000), the climax takes place at night on the newly reconstructed Statue of Liberty holding Captain America’s shield. MCU Peter reaches out to the remaining villains using a Daily Bugle livestream.

While they wait, the movie takes full advantage of having all three Spider-Men in one scene. Maguire calls back to his chronic back problems and Garfield humorously cracks it for him. They have a brother-like dynamic where Tobey is the wise older brother, Andrew is the caring middle brother, and Tom is the impressionable younger brother. Together they discuss webbing, existential crisis, the bad guys they fought, and Maguire encourages Garfield by calling him amazing. The official Marvel website refers to the previous wallcrawlers as The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man to avoid confusion. They’re all confronted by Electro, Sandman, and the Lizard. Electro’s motivation is staying in the MCU where he’s far more powerful and better looking. They manage to fix his appearance with an arc reactor, yellow electricity, and an energy mask that pays homage to his classic Steve Ditko look. Though he mentions his original plan to turn New York into lizard people, Lizard’s motivation is vague aversion to being fixed. Sandman’s motivation is the most confusing, because he’s probably the least villainous of the five. I can only assume he’s just trying to survive at this point.

Their fight is unorganized since they usually don’t work in a team. Holland mentions his experience in the Avengers which the previous Spider-Men have never heard of. They finally give each other nicknames in order to help tell them apart. Since he’s the star, Holland is “Peter-One,” Maguire is “Peter-Two,” and Garfield humorously accepts “Peter-Three.” The moment is made better when Peter-Three tells his teammates how much he loves them. Knowing Garfield improvised the line makes him an even more underrated Spider-Man. Hands down my favorite moment in the movie is all three Spider-Men enthusiastically swinging together and landing in an iconic pose. The edited scene in the trailer was the biggest indication of the missing actors. Spider-Man movies usually have a problem when there are too many villains, but it helps to have everyone already established. Sandman becomes an enormous sand monster who buries Peter-Two before being cured by a reverse collider. Since Thomas Haden Church only shows his face through archive footage, Maguire is unable to have a genuine heart to heart.

Peter-Three has a brief chat with the transformed Dr. Connors before the LIzard focuses his attention on the exposed Ned and MJ. Attacking them in a classroom is a nice call back to the fight in The Amazing Spider-Man. Peter-One uses the same green mist cure that Peter-Three already made before. Rhys Ifans also shows his face through archive footage, but Holland doesn’t have much to say to him. Doctor Strange witnesses the transition when he returns from dangling over the Grand Canyon for 12 hours. Electro is pleased to see Peter-Three again, but it takes all three Spider-Men and a returning Doc Ock to take him down. Octavius heroically cures Dillon with a faster electricity draining device. Peter-Three has a genuine heart to heart with Max who continues to call himself a nobody. Apparently he always assumed Spider-Man was black since this is the first time he sees Peter’s face. Since Jamie Foxx was a race changed Electro, it was a good opportunity to reference Miles Morales. I’m just glad they didn’t try to fit him in the already crowded movie. The grown up Peter-Two has a heart to heart with the rehabilitated Otto by referencing the Spider-Man 2 line that he’s “trying to do better.”

The rest of the Spider-Men meet Strange who’s prepared to activate the box. Peter-Two’s spider-sense goes off when the Green Goblin returns on his glider once again asking if Spider-Man can come out to play. I gasped the moment a pumpkin bomb managed to blow up the spell and MJ was thrown from the scaffolding. Peter-One tries to save his true love, but he’s stopped by a passing Green Goblin. The scene was another perfect opportunity to have Peter-Three successfully rescue a falling damsel after failing to save Gwen. Garfield’s tearful reaction is another indication of his acting talent. Since the Green Goblin made things personal, Peter-One doesn’t hold back in trying to kill him. Their final battle is even more brutal than the last. As Peter-One prepares to use his glider against him, Peter-Two heroically keeps him from taking a dark path. Green Goblin stabbing the original Spider-Man is a shocking moment, but they’re just messing with the audience. Though he continues to taunt Peter-One, Peter-Three gives him the reverse serum cure he needs to save Norman. Peter-Two never speaks to Norman, but the latter does feel remorseful about his actions.

With all the villains cured, Strange attempts to repair the crumbling multiverse. A silhouette of villains can be seen in the sky including Kraven, Scorpion, Black Cat, and a more comic accurate Rhino. Sadly, the only way to stop it is to have Strange erase Peter Parker from everyone’s memory as if he never existed. Continuing the trend of third installment MCU heroes losing a part of themselves. The Spider-hug shared between all three Spider-Men is something I never knew I needed. Peter shakes his best friends hand one last time and exchanges heartfelt “I love yous” with MJ. The spell works and J. Jonah Jameson has no clue who Spider-Man really is. Like the Blip, the spell opens up many questions that don’t need to be answered at this time. Closer to Christmas, Peter intends to reintroduce himself to Ned and MJ. However, he makes the ultimate sacrifice to let his loved ones go in order to keep them safe. No Way Home is the 5th Spider-Man movie to end at a cemetery. Peter visits Aunt May’s grave and encounters Happy who doesn’t remember him. Which may be the last we ever see of Stark’s beloved bodyguard. Peter gets a crappy apartment where he has to pay rent. He fills it with Ned’s LEGO Emperor from Homecoming and the cup of coffee MJ gave him.

Spider-Man finally feels like his comic book counterpart when he listens to a police scanner and has one final swing in the snow wearing a bright red & blue costume. Doctor Strange’s involvement and the three Spider-Men made “The Magic Number” by De La Soul the perfect song for the scientific end credits. For the first time since Captain America: The First Avenger, the after-credits scene is a literal teaser for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (more on that later). Like everyone else,  I wondered what happened to Venom after his arrival in the MCU was teased at the end of Let There Be Carnage. Although he has no clue who Peter Parker is, Venom could’ve easily completed the Sinister Six. Instead Tom Hardy’s cameo as Eddie Brock is treated like a joke. The mid-credits scene shows Eddie drunk in a bar trying to figure out the MCU. He learns about Iron Man and Hulk with humorous commentary from Venom. Despite intending to go after Spider-Man, Eddie & Venom are whisked away before they have a chance to do anything. Leaving behind a piece of the symbiote that gives me hope for the future. Sony may continue to make stupid decisions like Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, and Madame Webb, but the ending doesn’t totally erase Spidey from the MCU. Into the Spider-Verse was good, but Spider-Man: No Way Home is fan service done right.

59. Spider-Man No Way Home

Spider-Man finds Electro in the forest

Preceded by: Spider-Man: Far From Home

4 thoughts on “Hero or Menace?

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