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“Spider-Man: No Way Home” brings three generations together

(Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios) “Spiderman: No Way Home” was released on Dec. 17, 2021.

Maxwell Valin
Connector Contributor

When Marvel Studios released the first trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, the highly anticipated sequel to 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home”, fans everywhere began to buckle in for what was shaping up to be the most epic entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame”. From the get-go, the film was promised to be so much more than Peter Parker’s usual adventures.

When we last saw Peter Parker (Tom Holland), the world found out that he was, in fact, Spider-Man. This shocking cliffhanger left fans both excited, and concerned, about what was in store for their favorite web-slinging hero. Picking up right where the last film left off, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” begins with Peter Parker seeking the assistance of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in erasing all knowledge of his secret identity from the world. When their attempt to do so goes wrong, mayhem ensues, and Peter faces his greatest challenge yet.

The biggest indicator of the sheer ambition behind this film was the marketing campaign focused on the fact that three generations of iconic Spider-Man villains, from three different franchises, would be coming through the multiverse and into the world of Holland’s Peter Parker. From Sam Raimi’s early-2000s Spider-Man trilogy, we have Willem Dafoe reprising his role as Green Goblin, Alfred Molina as Doc Ock and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman. From Marc Webb’s more recent Amazing Spider-Man Duology, Rhys Ifans steps back into the role of Lizard, while Jaime Foxx returns as Electro.

When this massive cast of villains was announced for the film, it was both, exciting and worrying. Of course, there was much anticipation for the return of some of the greatest movie villains from past adventures. On the other hand, it was certainly possible that the film might have been biting off more than it would be able to chew. This was not the case by any means. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” not only delivers on its promise but also goes above and beyond expectations to give audiences one of the finest Marvel Cinematic Universe installments yet.

Perhaps the biggest praise that can be given to this rollercoaster of a movie is just how well it juggles its characters. Despite having a crowded cast, it never really feels that way. While other Marvel films, like 2021’s “Eternals”, struggle to justify a long runtime with a plot that often drags, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” doesn’t waste a minute. Every scene adds to the plot, leaving this nearly two and a half-hour movie never feeling as long as it really is. Each character has a unique part to play in the film, dispelling all worries that certain individuals’ appearances would merely be hollow fan service. No performances in the film are wasted.

It should be noted that while this movie does have a large cast of characters, at its heart, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is really a story about the relationship between Peter and his friends, MJ (Zendaya) and Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon). The chemistry between the characters has never been better than in this movie. They collectively face challenges unlike any they’ve previously been through, and by the end of this chapter in their story, it’s clear that their relationship will never be the same again. The pure heart they collectively inject into this film is palpable, and the more emotional moments between them are sure to leave even the most thick-skinned moviegoers with tears in their eyes.

Another very important aspect of this movie is how it handles the character of Spider-Man, and where it places him for the future. A major criticism of Holland’s rendition of the character in the past is that he is more of a “Spider-Boy” or “Iron Boy Jr.” than his own Spider-Man. Without going into spoilers, it should be noted that Peter suffers a lot in this movie. Audiences see him go through difficult situations throughout the film, but each one leads him to truly becoming Spider-Man by the films’ final swing, which induces chills in its own right. This trilogy was not simply a series of Spider-Man films, but together, they form a complete origin story for this version of the character – something not apparent until the very end of the runtime.

Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the type of movie people will use as a benchmark for Marvel films to come. Not only does it manage to juggle an extensive list of actors, but it also keeps its focus on the story of Peter Parker and his best friends. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a film, with moments that will stay with audiences for weeks after watching. The film also includes some amazing surprises along the way.

Grade: A+

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