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"Spider-Man: No Way Home" - The Film I Needed

Benjamin Wollmuth is a writer who loves to express his opinions on literature, TV, film, video games, and other media.

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"Spider-Man: No Way Home"

It's finally here. My most anticipated movie of the year. The movie I've been looking forward to ever since I exited the theater after watching Far From Home in 2019. I was so worried it would get delayed again (thanks COVID), but I'm happy to say that I was able to lay my eyes upon it. And I can't stop thinking about it. And, honestly, I don't know how to talk about it.

I run into this issue a lot, actually. I had no idea how to talk about Avengers: Endgame, so instead I wrote an article that commended the film for what it did. When writing the "reviews" for my Infinity Saga rewatch, I oftentimes had no idea how to criticize certain films because, frankly, I love so many of them a bit too much. In terms of No Way Home, I have nothing negative to say. Not now, anyway. Why? Well, this film made me feel a way that most films just can't. I felt this way during Infinity War and I felt this way during Endgame. It's a feeling I can't describe properly, so I won't even try. Readers, no film is perfect, but there are some films that can make me want to burst into tears (happy and/or sad) once the credits start rolling, and that's as close to perfection as a film can get, at least in my eyes. No Way Home is one of those films.

Before going any further, however, I must warn you that I will be discussing spoilers. If you haven't seen the film yet, do yourself a favor and stop reading. You need to see this film with fresh eyes, even if you think you know what's going to happen. Trust me.

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The Peters

I want to first discuss the Peters, which includes Tom Holland's, Andrew Garfield's, and Tobey Maguire's iterations respectively. Firstly, Tom Holland's Peter is given a fantastic arc in this movie. He starts the film just like the MCU has set him up to be: a strong boy, but quite naive. He results to magic instead of using words, which is a direct contrast from Maguire's Peter in the Raimi trilogy, who used words a lot in order to try and solve problems. Towards the middle of the film, however, he shows off the other aspect of Holland's Peter that I have loved ever since watching Homecoming: his ability to ignore adults because he believes that what he is doing is right. He makes mistakes, yes, but he is always able to fix them, and that usually is because he ignores what the adults tell him to do. It's a fascinating aspect of Holland's Peter that is unique to him because of the world he is part of. By the end of the film, he has experienced a loss and wants to enact revenge, which means murder. But, with the help of the other Spider-Men, he remembers what it means to be a hero and is able to cure all of the villains––including Goblin––so that they can be sent back to their world without a death sentence. Everyone then forgets who he is, he makes his own classic Spider-Man suit, and he is now able to live in the classic Spider-Man bubble where he can do whatever the hell he wants because no one knows who he is. I cannot wait to see where Marvel and Sony take him next. It was a sad ending for sure, but one that also opens the door to many awesome possibilities.

The second Peter I want to discuss is Garfield's Peter. Look, I saw the leaked set photos of all three Spider-Men together, but I told myself that there was a possibility they were fake. They were not, which means that Garfield and Maguire showed up and played some awesome supporting roles. After watching the film, I have a higher respect for Garfield's Peter. I never disliked his take on Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and I mostly blamed the writing for the poor quality of his two Spider-Man flicks. However, in my mind, he was always the weakest Peter. While he is still not my favorite, I loved what he was given in this movie. He's still the funny, cool Peter. Garfield manages to put on an amazing performance with how sad his Peter is. He is given redemption when he is 1) able to save both the Lizard and Electro from their destined fates and 2) when he saves MJ from falling, which made me tear up a little bit. I still don't love the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, but I feel like I can go back and watch them with a different perspective on the characters.

Lastly, we have Maguire's Peter, who, in this film, is a super matured Peter who is also extremely polite and kind-hearted. He compliments everyone and makes each Spider-Man feel special. He––like Garfield's Peter––is able to save the villains he knew as being destined to die. He is also able to convince Holland's Peter that murdering Goblin wouldn't make anything better. His role definitely feels mentor-ish, which is exactly what I wanted. Out of all the Spider-Men, he is the most seasoned, and Maguire played that role wonderfully. Seeing all three of the live-action Spider-Men working together was a sight to behold and was something my nerd-brain needed to see in order to feel fulfilled.

I am fulfilled.

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The Villains

Along with past Peters, we also got to see past villains. For starters, Willem Dafoe returns as the Green Goblin, one of the best comic book villains to hit the big screen, and he reprises that role masterfully. We see more Goblin, but we also see more Norman. We see so much Norman, in fact, that he becomes a villain that I felt highly sympathetic towards. I didn't want to see Norman die because I knew he was a good man, but I was also conflicted because I knew that Goblin was the exact opposite. I'm happy he received redemption in the end.

Alfred Molina's Doc Ock is fantastic, as well. He's exactly how I remembered him, which is all that I needed. In the end, he is saved and essentially becomes a hero, which is a perfect ending for him.

We also get to see Jamie Foxx's Electro, a villain who never really received the best reception after his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. However, his character is given an upgrade, not only in how he looks but also in how he acts as a character. Behind Goblin, Electro is the main villain. He wants to keep his power, and, ultimately, wants to stay in the MCU because of the power he has. I understood his motivations in this movie way more than I understood them in TASM 2, and I think Foxx put on a wonderful performance.

Along with those villains, we get the return of Thomas Haden Church's Sandman and Rhys Ifans' LIzard. While these characters aren't given too much to do, it was fun to see them on the big screen again, and it was a joy to see them redeemed when they are finally cured.

It's crazy how this movie can have more villains yet still feel less bloated than Spider-Man 3. I don't know how, but Marvel and Sony did it.

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To Conclude...

Spider-Man: No Way Home was an emotional joyride. Watching Aunt May die was heartbreaking. Seeing all three Spider-Men swinging around on the screen together was exhilarating. Similarly, seeing all of the villains I grew up with on-screen together was thrilling. Marvel and Sony managed to put something together that I didn't know was possible: a nostalgic film that doesn't just feel like nostalgia bait. Yes, there are nostalgic moments, but they happen to push the plot, not to just make audience members say "Oh hey, I remember them." This movie wouldn't have been the same without them, which can't be said about all nostalgic moments in movies.

I didn't even mention the fact that Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, made an appearance in this movie. I was grinning from ear to ear.

When I say I needed this film, I may be slightly exaggerating. But, at the same time, films like these are the reason why I love movies––more specifically, comic book movies. They are able to bring characters I love together in live-action. With this movie, I was able to see my favorite superhero on screen played by three different actors––actors who I watched growing up, who helped sculpt my love for the characters and movies in general. I was able to sit in the theater and cheer along with everyone else. Those are the theater experiences that make me love the cinema. They are the experiences that bring fans together into one place to enjoy a piece of popular culture that has affected so many people in so many different ways. Sony and Marvel Studios managed to put something together that could have turned out pretty shitty. However, because of grand writing, directing, editing, acting, and everything in between, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a film that I will never forget––a film that has changed my life forever.

© 2021 Benjamin Wollmuth

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