This a spoiler-free review of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Our full spoilery review will be posted on Monday.
There were a lot of expectations placed on Spider-Man: No Way Home. These expectations kept impossibly building as speculation about who might make an appearance in the movie and how the events depicted on it might tie into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe started mounting. However, the movie manages to not only meet those expectations. Instead, it easily surpasses them in what might just be the best movie the MCU has delivered to date.
Purely as a superhero film, this film has no comparison. As more, it perhaps fall short of the impact movies like Black Panther had. But the movie could never compete with that, it wasn’t trying to. If anything, the goal of Spider-Man: No Way Home is to establish Peter Parker as the kind of superhero we want to follow for himself, and for the mini-family he has built around himself.
Yes, we followed Peter as a kid, as part of the Avengers, as Tony Stark’s mentee. But Spider-Man is so much more than that, and this movie works really hard to remind anyone who might have forgotten that Spider-Man as hero has a lot to offer, even without the other Avengers, even without the gimmicks. And yes, Dr. Strange appears in this movie. That changes nothing.
This isn’t Strange’s movie, any less than Spider-Man: Homecoming was Tony’s. But there is more of an emotional disconnect between Strange and Peter than there was between Peter and Tony. If Tony was, in some way, a parental figure, Strange is like the uncle who sometimes shows up to roll his eyes at you, and that you sort of care about even if you don’t really know why. And, of course, there’s also the fact that the movie doesn’t really focus on that relationship as much.
Spider-Man: No Way Home instead focuses on the characters introduced in this franchise, the ones that have made this version of Peter Parker special: May, MJ and Ned. It also focuses on the relationships between them, even more than Spider-Man: Far From Home did. And it does so while also focusing on a bigger message, one that feels very much like the kind of Spider-Man message from the comics I read as a child, one of softness and goodness and the power of doing the right thing, even if the right thing doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.
Peter Parker doesn’t need any lessons on how unfair life is, he’s been through enough to have gotten that message. But life doesn’t usually take into account how much you’ve suffered before it throws new curveballs our way. We cannot change the hand we are dealt in life, but we have some control over what hand we play. And Peter Parker is going to make the right decision, the hero’s decision, even if it’s hard. Especially, if it’s hard.
And as the dust settles on this outstanding movie, as we take a step back and try to analyze what we got and what it means for the future of the character going forward, one thing is for sure: three movies in, there’s still an appetite for this version of Peter Parker. No one’s tired. In fact, this feels like the beginning of a new story, not the end of a cycle. Another trilogy? Bring it in. We’re as excited about that as we are about any other superhero project in the horizon.
If that doesn’t make you want to watch the movie, then I don’t know what will.
Are you excited for Spider-Man: No Way Home? Share with us in the comments below!
Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now.