This movie is embodying so many things simultaneously I can’t really believe it. This isn’t just the third outing of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, it’s the equivalent of a shared Spider-Man movie Avengers, it’s the final piece in a six movie origin story and it’s also a finale while simultaneously being a reboot of sorts.
Like Avenger’s Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home is one of those movies that becomes exponentially better from having knowledge of everything that came before it. And while that makes the MCU a harder and harder sell to the people who come and go from these movies with the rabid attention of someone like me, it makes No Way Home something truly special for both Marvel and Spider-Man fans since 2002.
There is just so much to talk about regarding this movie I hardly know where to start. I guess, first, I should talk about the most obvious thing, the worst kept secret in the MCU. The fact that this movie brings some kind of conclusion not just to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man character in the MCU, both also Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parkers from the Raimi and Webb directed runs of the character before the MCU got started.
Far From Home takes an Into the Spider-Verse approach to multiversal Spider-Man shenanigans to remould Holland’s Peter from a uniquely Tony Stark shaped Spider-Man and turn him into something more iconic in terms of his classic iteration from the Comics. The MCU Spider-Man was pretty different than the Spider-Man we’ve known from both the comics and the movies that came before.
Not really mired by tragedy, he was more of a happy-go lucky kid, not having to worry about money or public opinion because he pretty much had the backing of Iron Man, as well as a major hand in saving the Universe from Thanos. He’d had no Uncle Ben to drive him on, no Gwen Stacy and no Green Goblin to ruin his life.
It was with the conclusion of Far From Home that this movie immediately picks up from and drops us into a more familiar Spider-Man story. With Mysterio painting Parker as a villain, public opinion suddenly becomes very torn on the Webhead, driven by a hate campaign from one J. Johan Jameson.
Which brings us back to the second major point classic Spider-Man; his need to try and live two lives simultaneously. Part of the pains of Peter Parker is that he wants to be Spider-Man. He needs to be Spider-Man, his memory of his Uncle Ben drives him to do the right thing because he can. But at the same time, he refuses to give up his life as Peter Parker.
It’s this classic drive to have both that takes Peter to the Sanctum Sanctorum and for Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make everyone forget. Now personally, I feel like Strange should have done a better job of explaining the effects of the spell beforehand and asking if there was anyone he wanted to remember. But then we could have avoided this whole problem and we wouldn’t have had the movie.
In his need to have both, Peter cracks open the walls of the multiverse and allows the villains from the Raimi and Webb movies to seep through and start causing chaos in his New York. Also Tom Hardy’s Venom, but he’s kind of not important.
Again, an easy solution here would to be to send these villains back to where they came from. But upon learning a bit more about them and discovering they’re destined to die, Peter gets a bout of conscious and decides to defy Doctor Strange to try and save them all. Well, I say it’s a bout of conscious, it’s more like his Aunt May strongly reminds him that he needs to do the right thing.
It’s at this point that we start to see the shape of a new origin story taking form. While classically, it’s Uncle Ben who tells Peter that “with great power comes great responsibility”, this movie turns that moral core into the character of May. Like I said before, this Peter has had it easy. So far, he’s been able to have everything his own way. Even after the world finds out he’s Spider-Man, things in his civilian life start working themselves out anyway.
That is until Peter’s drive to do it all ends up biting him. All in the form of Norman Osborne and the Green Goblin. It’s kind of cool that, despite this being a totally different Goblin from a totally different universe, he easily finds his way under this Peter’s skin and in a single hour totally destroys his life.
Ruining everything and fatally wounding May in the process. It’s here, six movies into his story, that this Peter finally hears this classic motto of power and responsibility that has driven the character in the comics for years. It’s a line that, I honestly feel could come across as kind of cheesy, but at this point, I really feel like the MCU had earned it.
Although, her final words of affirmation of his life as Spider-Man alone aren’t enough to really turn Peter around, it’s the discovery of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men that really bring the final transformation of the character into sharp relief. Mcguire especially ends up taking on more of a elder mentor role, with him having the most classic origin within his movie and really driving home what it means for Peter to be Spider-Man.
May’s message of responsibility being so powerful that is echos through the multiverse and words that all three live by. Although it isn’t quite until the final battle with the Goblin that our main Spider-Man needs one last reminder that he can’t let his rage drive him to kill the man he once so passionately tried to save.
It’s a reminder of humility and that he isn’t untimely Tony Stark, able to do whatever the hell he wants to. And like Tony in Endgame, this Peter decides to put an end to everything by making a supreme sacrifice of his own. Rather than dying though, this Peter Parker totally and utterly isolates himself, having Strange cast that spell that makes everyone in the world forget not that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but that Peter Parker ever existed at all.
It’s a sad, but hopeful ends to this Spider-Man’s story within the MCU in some way. While the world still remembers Spider-Man, and whatever he did with the Avenger’s in the past, nobody knows Peter, including his best friend, his girlfriend and Happy Hogan.
He basically finds himself back at square one, with nothing to his name, living out of crappy apartment, with no money and having to teach himself for a college level degree out of a book. Suddenly, with the choice he’s made, we find ourselves with a reset world for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker to exist in.
While Strange, Happy, Pepper and the other Avengers would probably recognise and help Spider-Man out if the need arose, his alter ego Peter Parker is scraping by in much the same way his comic book counterpart famously did for almost his entire existence. When I read that Holland was getting another three movie deal as Spider-Man, I assumed things would continue on much in the same was as his first three movie did. However, the way this movie changes things gives me cause to think otherwise.
It’s a change that leaves me both excited and worried.
Of late, I’ve felt like that the MCU is leaning a little too much into the cosmic and fantastical elements of its lore at the expense of the on the ground, street level super heroism. The “lower stakes” of Hawkeye were actually one of the reasons I ended up enjoying that show as much as I did.
With the conclusion of this movie, it makes it seem to me that the MCU wants to take Peter out of the global level threats of the Avengers movies and make him into a more “friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man” again. A move I am 100% in support of. Where I worry is that this move feels like it might have been one pushed by Sony and their strong-arming Disney with their ownership of the Spider-Man rights.
While there’s no reason “Spider-Man” specifically could show up in future MCU movies, the way this movie ends really makes me think that this could be the last time Spidey does ever show up in a movie that doesn’t have something to do with Sony. That Spider-Man still does exist in the MCU, but just never comes up in in any of them.
Like with the old Netflix shows or the fact that Coleson was still alive in Agents of Shield.
And if Sony do have a bigger say in the way these new Spider-Man movies go, than how long till they lose patience and we’re not getting street level, Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man movies anymore and he’s crossing over with the Into the Spider-verse movies.
This movie did feel like Tom Holland’s swan song for the MCU, with him getting handed back over to Sony at the end of it. It was a conclusion to his story that also acted as a true origin for the Spider-Man we knew from decades of comic books. And as a movie I can’t fault it, like Avenger’s Infinity War and Endgame, the movie so is packed with nods, references and real conclusion that everything feels so climactic.
I loved seeing the older actors return and get one more day as the character. I especially loved that Andrew Garfield got some kind of redemption to his arc after ending in such a low place in his last movie. I always felt like he got a raw deal.
The return of Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe were astounding as Doc Ock and Green Goblin respectively. And I just really loved this movie.
I honestly have no real idea of where things are going to go for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker going forward. With MJ and Ned going to MIT in Boston, it really does feel like a totally fresh start for the character. While I feel like it’s really going to be a while before we know whatever the hell is in store for this version of Peter Parker, I am super happy with how it ended and what they did with this movie.
It was a fantastic conclusion to his story and a super intriguing new status quo
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