Not many younger fans know this, but once upon a time, before Marvel became another arm of Disney, Spider-Man was basically Mighty Marvel’s equivalent to Mickey Mouse. He was the most relatable, most accessible, and most liked hero, even when the company was as its worst. Easily the biggest movie of 2021, “No Way Home” is a glimpse in to what makes Spider-Man such a timeless hero and why so many people continue connect to our favorite Friendly Neighborhood Wallcrawler.
After defeating Mysterio in “Far From Home,” Peter Parker is beginning to adjust to a new life when his secret identity is suddenly revealed to the world as one last gesture by his enemy. Now outed, distressed and facing a life under the microscope of the media, led by online pundit J. Jonah Jameson, Peter turns to Doctor Strange to fix his problem. Offering to concoct a complex spell that could reverse time, Peter’s indecisiveness causes a rift in what’s known as the multi-verse, prompting threats from all corners of parallel universes to come look for him, and threatening to destroy reality as we know it.
“No Way Home” is a big rebound from 2020, which was described as “The Year with No Superheroes.” Spider-Man is one of the most magnetic and entertaining Marvel characters, and here, the writers and director Jon Watts manage to hone in on what makes him such a beloved icon. “Homecoming” spent a lot of its time trying to figure out where Peter fit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while “Far from Home” built a foundation as one of the best Spider-Man stories to date. With “No Way Home” director Watts and Disney allow us a look in to the bigger universe of Spider-Man. We not only get to know him again, but we’re also allowed to understand him, and what motivates him as a superhero. While there are bound to be some disappointed comic fans, “No Way Home” makes good on many promises, while subverting expectations.
“No Way Home” has the potential to really become a clusterfuck of a sequel, but thankfully the writers manage to balance the array of characters out beautifully, ensuring that the movie is about Peter Parker first and foremost. Which is not to say that the supporting cast isn’t great, as Zendaya is still fantastic as Peter’s girlfriend MJ, while Marisa Tomei is a very unique and radical version of Aunt May. Tom Holland also provides a passionate and riveting performance portraying Spider-Man and Peter Parker at a crossroads, incapable of figuring out how they’re going to fix this horrendous problem. Parker is at his wit’s end here, ultimately realizing that he can’t be Spider-Man and keep what’s cherished in his personal life.
I wish the writers would have delivered on such a crucial element of Peter’s back story and motivation for being Spider-Man, as well I wish we could have dabbled in to the surrealism of the multiverse/. Otherwise, “No Way Home” is a fantastic Spider-Man movie that pays homage to his legacy, embraces his future, and celebrates his role as the every man superhero in the Marvel Universe. I very much hope Tom Holland returns to expand on Peter’s life progressing in to adulthood, and acceptance as the perpetual pariah known as Spider-Man.