Spider-Man: No Way Home Thoughts

This article includes MASSIVE amounts of spoilers, so consider yourself warned…

So I recently saw the much anticipated follow up to 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home as this past weekend, Marvel Studios released Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you haven’t seen it yet and are considering doing so, please stop reading this now & go see it. I’ll be here when you get back. It’s well worth your time!

That being said, this movie picks up right exactly where the last one left off in the post-credits scene of the Daily Bugle’s J. Jonah Jameson breaking the story of Spider-Man’s secret identity being shared to him by Quentin Beck (Mysterio) just before his death along with doctored footage of Peter Parker ordering his execution in London. And just like that, INSTANTLY…your “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” is now Public Enemy #1.

Including Matt Murdock (the blind superhero called Daredevil from the Netflix series) was a nice surprise, especially when he caught the brick thrown through the window & explained it away as being a “good lawyer” was comedy gold for those “in the know” on the character. From there, the crossovers began. This movie had just the right amount of comedy while balancing the serious scenes quite nicely. Comedy, drama, action…this movie had it all!

As Peter, MJ & Ned become celebrities, with the entire world seemingly following their every step, their lives have become a living hell as even the colleges they’ve applied to have all declined their applications just because of their associations with Spider-Man (who J. Jonah Jameson has labeled a menace). Peter sees this as all being his fault, so he takes it upon himself to seek out help from Dr. Strange and heads to the Sanctum Santorum. Peter & Strange’s interactions are incredible all movie long as Peter initially calls Strange “sir”, which Strange isn’t comfortable with, so Peter then calls him Stephen, which again sounds weird to him as well & this continues on throughout the rest of the movie with each of their subsequent interactions. Since Strange doesn’t have the time stone anymore, his only choice is to cast a spell to make everyone forget who Peter Parker is. So while casting the spell, Peter keeps coming up with new people who he wants to be able to remember him, thus screwing up the spell, which Strange contains in some sort of mystical lockbox.

However, the spell draws in everyone in the multiverse who knows the secret identity of Spider-Man…so a number of villains from across the previous series of Spider-Man movies start to appear for the first time in the MCU. While Peter is stalking down an official from MIT to try to persuade her to change their decision on his and his friends’ applications, the first of the villains from a past Spider-Man movie appears as Dr. Otto Octavius, better known as Doc Ock, played by Alfred Molina from Spider-Man 2 of the Tobey Maguire-Spider-Man trilogy. After Peter takes control of Doc Ock’s tentacles via bluetooth after Ock realizes Parker’s suit is made from nano technology (was that even a dream back in 2004?). After Peter is unmasked by Ock, who realizes he’s not the same Peter Parker that he knew, we are zipped back to the Sanctum –but not before seeing a character off in the distance, flying around on a jet-powered glider, tossing explosives– where Dr. Strange explains to us what exactly is happening while showing us that he’s caught Dr. Curt Conners, AKA The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans from Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man film from 2012.

As Peter begins rounding up these villains from alternate Spider-Man realities across the Spiderverse with the help of his friends, Ned & MJ, it becomes apparent just how good of a team they are together. When they all appear to be captured, the full cast of villains turns out to include Jamie Fox’s Electro from the Amazing Spider-Man 2, Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman from Spider-Man 3, and finally Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborne, a.k.a. the Green Goblin from the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie. While I’ve always loved Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin/Norman Osborne really makes this movie! Although he’s destroyed the mask upon entering this reality, the writing for this character in this film is incredible! I don’t think I really truly appreciated that character nearly as much 20 years ago.

Once captured, Dr. Strange is ready to send all the various villains back to their own universes, where one by one, their fates are that they all die one way or another because of their various character flaws that caused them to go bad. As Peter thinks about this, he stops Strange and tries to persuade him to not send them back, rather to try to rehabilitate them first as Aunt May had suggested since she’s the first one to have come in contact with Norman Osborne, to which, Dr. Strange is not a fan & won’t allow it. So Peter steals the spell, which is housed within a mystical box and attempts to run off with it. Strange takes Peter into the mirror dimension to try to get the box back, but due to Peter’s advanced knowledge of geometry, ends up trapping Strange, taking the box and his sling ring, and exiting through a portal Strange had opened for himself to exit, and traps Strange in the mirror dimension. Once again, the interactions between Peter & Dr. Strange are phenomenal!

Once back with his friends, Peter explains everything to Ned & MJ and they relocate the villains to a safe house that Happy Hogan had set up for Peter, Ned & MJ to lay low in after J. Jonah Jamison broke the news of Spider-Man’s identity. One by one, Peter & Osborne work on cures for each of the villains together, using some Stark Industries equipment and are able to fix the connection of Doc Ock’s robotic arms to his nervous system so that the AI of the arms no longer controls him, putting Dr. Octavius back in control. They’re also able to build devices to fix each of the other villains’ ailments, but as I’m sure you’d expect, not everyone wants to be fixed & things go awry.

A fight breaks out as everyone gets away when Peter’s “Peter Tingle” goes off, alerting him that the Green Goblin part of Norman Osborne’s split personality is back in charge, destroying much of the apartment building. The most emotional part of the movie hits here as Aunt May is killed by the Goblin, but not before she delivers the quote of “With great power, comes great responsibility,” which had traditionally been delivered by Uncle Ben, who was never seen on screen in the MCU/Tom Holland Spider-Man series. This was a scene I really wasn’t ready for! For whatever reason, I really didn’t see it coming at all & you could feel the sadness & emptiness Peter was feeling at this point as it was played out perfectly on screen, and given the time it deserved.

Now here comes really the only point in the movie that I can poke holes in: We’re taken back to Ned & MJ, who are rightfully worried about Peter after seeing the story on the news about May & how there’s a manhunt out for Peter. Accidentally, Ned is able to use Dr. Strange’s sling ring to open a portal when he wants to know where Peter Parker is. Going back to Dr. Strange’s introductory movie, it literally takes a life-threatening situation for Strange to finally get the hang of how to use the ring to open portals, but our buddy Ned here does it by accident! But I digress.

So Ned opens a portal to Peter Parker, but it’s not the right Peter Parker…we’re now introduced to Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker from the Amazing Spider-Man series, who apparently also made his way here via Strange’s botched spell. His introduction is great and MJ’s throwing of rolls at this Spider-Man to test his spidey sense, along with her asking him to prove he’s Spider-Man by crawling around on the ceiling is great comedy, especially when Ned’s unfazed Grandmother asks this alternate Peter Parker to take down a cobweb for her while he’s up on her ceiling.

So then, since that portal didn’t find them their Peter Parker, Ned tries it again and one of the most anticipated cameos in the film happens as Tobey Maguire is the next Peter Parker to be found. Since Tobey hadn’t been a part of the Spiderverse for 14 years, this was a LONG time coming! I know that for me, when Tobey was cast as Spider-Man, I viewed the choice as perfect. He was the perfect Peter Parker in my book, and his return to that character here was incredible! I mean sure, he’s older now…but in this movie, that’s kind of the part he played – the older, more mature & wisest Peter Parker of the three.

From there, MJ & Ned find Tom Holland’s Peter Parker after Tobey & Andrew suggest that Tom might be in a location he feels safe, where he can get away from everyone, which MJ knows to be the roof of the trio’s school. Tom is then found, overcome with sadness over the loss of Aunt May, and he’s comforted by MJ and Ned. It’s here that Tom is introduced to his multiverse counterparts, and he asks for Dr. Strange’s mystical box so he can send everyone back to their universes and be done with all of this. MJ refuses to give him the box and the group convince Peter that what he was doing was the right thing and both alternate Spider-Men explain their hardships and how killing their enemies didn’t lessen any of the hurt that they felt after their losses. So our band of heroes convene in the science lab of the Midtown School of Science and Technology, where they continue to work on the cures for the remaining enemies: Sandman, Lizard, Electro & the Green Goblin. A lot of great dialogue happens here as well between the various Peter Parkers, Ned & MJ…like Ned finding out that in the alternate realities that Peter’s best friend became a supervillain that he ended up having to kill and when Ned calls out to Tom Holland’s Peter, and all three answer, so Ned tries to specify by saying “Peter Parker”, to which all three respond that they’re also all Peter Parker. Really great comedic stuff!

So with all the cures completed, the trap is set for the villains to converge on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who calls into the Daily Bugle to announce that he has Dr. Strange’s mystical lockbox at the Statue of Liberty and if they want it, come get it. It’s here that the villains are introduced to their various universe’s web-slinging heroes who they hadn’t known followed them into this universe.

Initially, the three Spider-Men weren’t used to working together and weren’t doing a very good job to coordinate their efforts in their various altercations with the villains, so when they reconvene to go over who is Peter 1, 2 & 3, Tom Holland explains that he’s worked as a part of a team with the Avengers previously, to which the other two are surprised, but then ask “Who are the Avengers?”, which again, was great comedy since the basis for this universe was the formation of that elite assemblance of superheroes. (See what I did there?) So once the Spider-Men get their act together and start working as a team, one-by-one, they start curing their enemies. However, as Ned & MJ are trying to escape to somewhere safe, Ned opens up another portal, this time to the mirror dimension, thus freeing Dr. Strange, who is pissed and wants to put an end to all of this by pressing the button on the mystical lockbox. Just then, MJ and Ned explain to him that Peter’s plan is working and show him Lizard & Sandman being cured. Meanwhile, just as our heroes are having problems getting close enough to Electro (who has attached the Arc Reactor he stole from the Stark Industries equipment in Happy’s apartment to power himself) to attach the device to him to cure him, Doc Ock shows up to lend a hand (or a tentacle) to get the job done, but not before we hear the voice of the Green Goblin from off in the distance, coming to add to the chaos.

And here’s where the drama really gets amped up, because for as much as I liked Willem Dafoe’s performance in the original Spider-Man movie from 2002, his acting and the portrayal of the character in No Way Home takes this character to the level that a number of the top sinister baddies reside at in the MCU. He is anything but the cartoonish type of Green Goblin we saw in 2002’s Spider-Man movie! From taunting Peter about the death of May to almost causing the death of MJ — and I’ll get to that in a minute — he works the mind games with Tom Holland’s youngest version of Spider-Man of the three. Even at 66 years old, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin in this film is such an incredibly evil badass!

Back to MJ though, as Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man has a nice redemption story here when MJ falls from the scaffolding, which has been erected around the Statue of Liberty for the alteration of Captain America’s shield being added to the statue, which also seems to have had the exterior all cleaned to it’s original copper color with all the oxidation removed. (While I like Cap, I wouldn’t want to see Lady Liberty holding his shield in NY harbor, but I digress) As MJ starts to fall, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker begins to have flashbacks of losing Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, however this time, he’s able to save her. They reach the ground safely, with Peter asking MJ if she’s alright, to which she replies yes, but also asks the same question back, since clearly, the whole scenario had affected Peter as well. Just an amazing sequence!

Speaking of “amazing”, just as throughout the entire film, there’s a bit of terrifically silly dialogue between the Spider-Men played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, when Garfield is down on himself before the super villains arrive for the big fight, Tobey needs to have his back cracked to help him to loosen up, so Garfield does it for him. Maguire turns back to Garfield and says to not get down on himself because he’s really amazing, stating it a few times to really hammer home the joke on the name of Andrew Garfield’s series of Spider-Man movies.

A couple other fun scenes are when Tom Holland & Andrew Garfield’s characters find out that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man character can shoot webs organically from his wrists, whereas they both had to figure a way to do it using technology. They’re both amazed by this feat and ask if it comes out of anywhere other than just his wrists. Also of note is when they are getting ready to call the villains out of hiding, Tobey is asked if he has a Spider-Man suit or if he fought dressed up as a “cool youth pastor,” which made him reveal that his Spidey suit was under his clothes.

Back to the action, as the scaffolding falls, so does Cap’s shield that was being attached to Lady Liberty, and the fight continues on the back side of the fallen shield. Tom Holland picks up Goblin’s glider, and just as he’s about to use it to kill the Goblin, Tobey Maguire is right there to stop him since as was discussed earlier, taking an enemy’s life won’t make the hurt of losing Aunt May go away. Just then, Goblin stabs Maguire in the back and Garfield tosses Holland the cure for the Goblin to bring back Norman Osborne for good, as the Spider-Men prevail.

As all of this is going on, Doctor Strange is trying to close fissures in their reality so that the multiverse doesn’t all collapse in on this universe, and he states that he’s not sure how to hold it all together even if he sends the cross-universe characters back to where they came from. So Peter (Tom Holland) makes the tough decision to have Strange complete the original spell to have everyone who knows he is Spider-Man to forget him, including Dr. Strange, himself. Strange agrees and begins to cast the spell and tells Peter to go say his goodbyes & thanks him for his sacrifice. So Peter returns to Ned & MJ to explain what’s about to happen and promises both of them that he’ll seek them out and make them remember their shared history. It’s a real emotional scene, because essentially, Peter loses every personal relationship he’s built over his entire life is now truly on his own…but as May had explained to him: “With great power comes great responsibility”.

After Peter swings away from his friends, we’re shown Peter walking down the street, about to enter the coffee shop where MJ works. He introduces himself to her, they share a bit of a moment where she clearly seems interested in him as he doesn’t even begin to recite the speech he had prepared on a note inside his pocket, but the seeds have been planted. Next, we see him in his new apartment as he’s making a new Spider-Man suit, which I’m told mimics Tobey & Andrew’s Spider-Man suits. Gone is the robotic-looking spider on his chest, replaced by the more traditional design of the spider as we go to credits.

So, clearly as I’ve indicated…this is a heck of a movie with a lot of really fun dialogue, where a lot of Spider-Man cinema history is brought in and paid off in a seemingly positive way. Seeing Andrew Garfield & especially Tobey Maguire in the Spidey suit again was great to see. Truth be told: I hadn’t actually seen the Amazing Spider-Man series of movies prior, since I loved Tobey as Peter Parker so much. So I just wasn’t interested, but this film gave me the urge to seek out and watch those movies, which I’ll say are pretty good on their own, but don’t hold up to the originals or the new MCU-Spidey movies.

Anyway, if you’re still reading…thanks for sticking around. I know this was a long one, but I’m sure you’ll agree, this was a terrific movie with a ton of great action that didn’t take itself too seriously with some truly hilarious dialogue & great interplay between all the characters. If you haven’t seen it yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. Currently, it’s the #6 highest-grossing movie of all time according to Box Office Mojo, grossing over $1.7B worldwide! Go check it out already! Sorry if I spoiled it for you, but you were sufficiently warned, so that’s on you!

Oh, and I won’t spoil the mid & post-credit scenes for ya. All I’ll say is that they’re worth sticking around for.

I’ve literally been working on this one for no lie, a month or so! So I’m sorry it’s taken so long to post. I hope you think it was worth the wait. While it’s not exactly timely, I think that in terms of completeness, I’ve got it nailed. So sorry for the wait, but thanks for reading!

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