The pressure has been on an all-time high for the producers back at Marvel and Disney since their ultimate spectacle of a showdown in Avengers: Endgame while simultaneously piquing the interest of fans of the MCU regarding the future of their favorite superheroes. Not every film or show released however was an instant success with some offerings in the MCU’s phase four experiencing a lackluster start due to the pandemic and sub-par storylines. But if there was one film that had fans waiting in painful agony and eager anticipation it would hands down, be none other than Marvel and Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
This is now the third installment in Tom Holland’s version of our friendly neighborhood hero and is frankly the most ambitious offering so far out of all the films to date. As presented by the trailers, No Way Home dives further into the concept of the multiverse which has been previously discussed in Disney+’s series, Loki. The grandeur of this installment in Holland’s stint as the web-crawler is even further displayed with its 200 million-dollar budget, making it the highest spent on the current Spider-Man franchise to date. Therefore the special effects and visual experience weren’t an afterthought as the companies behind this film — Sony, Disney, and Marvel — spared no expense in delivering a spectacle of an event for fans.
Just like every Marvel fan, we were excited to see the film despite the delays that had occurred for its release here in the Philippines. I, therefore, understand the gravity of spoilers especially when it comes to a movie that is as highly sought after and anticipated as this one. Therefore to the best of my ability, this review will not dive into any spoilers that will affect your viewing experience and will primarily focus on the overall impact that the story, visuals, and characters have on us as viewers as well as the sense of continuity that the film upholds in relation to the overarching MCU story.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Overview
After Spider-Man successfully defeats Quintin Beck/Mysterio in a battle of epic proportions in London, J.Jonah Jameson, host of the DailyBugle.net, releases information that paints Mysterio as a hero and Spider-Man as a murdering vigilante. In the process of doing so, Jameson also ends up revealing Peter Parker’s identity as the wed-slinging hero which causes several complications for Peter and those close to him including MJ, Ned, His Aunt May, and even Happy. With no other option left, Peter seeks out the help of Doctor Strange who in turn casts a spell to remove the world’s knowledge of Spider-Man’s alter-ego. The spell however goes awry due to Peter’s continuous revisions and meddling which unearths the spiraling down of our main characters through the multiverse by bringing in various Spider-Man villains from different universes.
In Light of The Bigger Picture
The majority of the stories that we have gotten from the MCU Phase 4 have occurred right after the events of End Game with the exception of Black Widow. This is where things get interesting due to the somewhat blurred nature of the exact sequence of events. For the most part, we know that films and shows such as WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Shang-Chi, and the Eternals, to name a few, all occur after the Avenger’s big battle with Thanos. Spider-Man: No Way Home also fits within this timeline but it begs me to ask the exact order of events and how the opening of the multiverse can truly affect everything that has occurred so far in Phase Four.
I mention this to point out the slightly confusing nature of this new phase in terms of the sequence of events as it so far gives a difficult time for truly seeing the continuity of everything. Yes, there is a common thread and the various cameos make up for it all to bring us back to a shared universe. At the same time, however, the chronological flow of time which in itself is a very perplexing concept that Marvel continues to explore is still unclear as of the moment. As the multiverse through Loki has been altered, is that when Dr. Strange and Peter inadvertently cause all these mishaps? Simultaneously while all these occur are the Deviants causing a ruckus as well while the world gets a new Captain America in the process?
Admittedly it may just cause frustration to truly think about it now because the silver lining to it all is that Marvel does have a lot of films and projects still in line to clarify this small point on continuity. The addition of No Way Home however drastically shifts and transitions everything in the MCU in regards to its timeline of events which arguably in my opinion is an interesting move to witness. The multiverse by all means creates a blurred sense of reality in our perception as viewers as we now start to question the actual place and time of such occurrences in the MCU. This also allows a wide range of endless possibilities for storytelling and even the correction of plot points in past films that may be a bit questionable or unfavorable.
Continuity At Its Finest
That doesn’t mean however that No Way Home completely breaks off from continuity, in fact, I honestly believe that it gives justice to the franchise and furthermore to every Spider-Man film and even Marvel show that has been done to date. There are so many references to countless numbers of Marvel shows for fans to gawk over. At some point, it did feel like these easter eggs and cameos were done just to uphold fan satisfaction but nonetheless, there was a delicate nature to how they were all done.
These elements were added to the best of their abilities to not only ensure continuity but also bring about a symbolically-charged direction to the story. There is a weight to the story because of these cameos and elements that despite their blatant use to showcase a shared universe, are also done to redeem and create a more captivating story. It is a known fact that the villains from previous Spider-Man film franchises such as those directed by Sam Raimi and Marc Webb make an appearance in No Way Home including Doc Oc, The Goblin, and Electro. These choices of unifying worlds and film franchises cannot go unnoticed in this review. It is spectacular to witness how a single film pays respect and gratitude to those that have gone before it to the point of breaking the very definition that constitutes the term, reboot. This franchise is no longer just a reboot but a celebration of everything about Spider-Man which I believe is what makes this film all the more exciting to watch because it boils down to respect.
Speaking of villains, I must also add that No Way Home achieves an even more special feat by doing just enough for the villainous character despite the sheer number of them that are present in the film. I wasn’t a huge fan of past Spider-Man films that contained so many baddies all at once but for the first time, they finally got it right as it was able to also balance the previous storylines in order to paint a cohesive story for these characters.
Overall, it is evident that the fan service is on an all-time high with almost every scene becoming better than the last but not to the point that they became overbearingly obnoxious. They presented great comedic elements and more importantly a huge emotional weight that loomed over the entire movie.
The Most Emotional Spider-Man Story So Far
Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man is truly unlike any that we have seen as he provides a lighter and youthful spirit to the character that now ultimately reaches his tipping point in No Way Home. The story as a whole is an emotional rollercoaster ride that shifts and turns as quickly as the hero himself does as he swings from building to building. There are elements in the story that are truly heart-wrenching while still emitting so much joy and positivity at the same time. We still get the bubbly and upbeat notes that the other Tom Holland Spider-Man films have brought us but as the story progresses, things take a darker tone. I for one am amazed by how this was all captured in one film and how it was prolonged long enough to provide an even more powerful weight to the story. We have seen Tom Holland as Spider-Man in three films and it’s only in this latest installment that we finally see an overwhelming sense of maturity. Unlike the previous Spider-Man film franchises, it felt like there was an effort to speed up Peter Parker’s development but this film showcases how a franchise can devote itself to individual stories that showcase gradual but continuous growth.
There is also a significant amount of change and improvement not just with Peter Parker’s character development but even of the people around him specifically that of MJ and Aunt May. MJ and Peter Parker’s chemistry first and foremost improved leap and bounds from the last two films and by the end of this film, we finally get a couple that you want to root for. The disconnected and weird disposition of MJ as portrayed by Zendaya finally gets an emotional and relatable breakthrough showing immense improvements in her characterization. Aunt May also shines quickly in this film as the moral compass in the story which is a huge step into the spotlight compared to what seemed to be just cameo-like roles in the previous films. May as a character grew in the span of No Way Home’s running time as an important character in the franchise which I felt was lacking from the previous films.
Growth seems to be the theme of this film as it is visible not just in terms of the story but even in regards to the visuals. The choices in color grading absolutely match the transitions and changes that the story goes through. There are scenes that carry a bigger emotional depth and they are matched by amazing aesthetic choices. There are also some nostalgic elements that this film goes through with visual stylings and camera angles that reminded me of The Amazing Spider-Man films with Andrew Garfield. It was also interesting to see how as a whole the film complemented the story visually to paint the deeply emotional transitions that Peter goes through as it subtly combines light tones in the first few acts which slowly gets dimmer and bleak towards the end.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Review Verdict
Spider-Man: No Way Home pulled out all the stops and every tool in its arsenal to deliver an exhilarating, heart-pounding, spectacle of a film. It was able to meet expectations and in my opinion, even surpass them. I personally believe that although it still may not be the film to defeat End Game, it does come as a close second and is, in my honest opinion, the best Marvel film so far in the MCU’s Phase Four. It’s a movie that almost anyone would enjoy but I feel is truly a masterpiece meant for fans of Spidey. It’s a film that also honors generations of Spider-Man fans as it depicts the power of movies and stories to create a fantastic and emotional ride all for the fandom.
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