Review: Spiderman: No Way Home

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Following a particularly crowded year for Marvel Studios’ releases, December brought the release of the much-anticipated Spiderman: No Way Home. Featuring Tom Holland in the titular role, the film had been the subject of many leaks of footage and content, as well as speculation about features of the “multiverse” that could appear. This prospect had led many to anticipate the return of characters from Spiderman movies past.

After contemplating whether this review could be written without mentioning at least a couple of the key spoilers and exciting moments, I decided that it could not – one of No Way Home’s strengths is its ability to connect with the audience through such moments, and I think it would be a disservice not to mention at least some of them. So, unlike Kim Kardashian, who managed to spoil said key and exciting moments on her Instagram story, let this serve as your spoiler warning! 

Holland shines in his role as Peter Parker, embracing the spirit of a dorky, and troubled, teenager expertly

Following Tom Holland’s second Spiderman film Far from Home, No Way Home picks up where this film left off – with Spiderman’s identity revealed to the world. Distraught by the negative consequences this reveal has on the rest of his life, Holland’s Peter Parker turns to Dr Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (with an ever-so-slightly dodgy American accent…) to erase the world’s recollection of his identity reveal. Needless to say, this does not go as smoothly as Peter wished, resulting in the unleashing of the ‘multiverse’, comprising of villains from past Spiderman movies, as well as other versions of Peter Parker. Holland shines in his role as Peter Parker, embracing the spirit of a dorky, and troubled, teenager expertly. The film’s start is admittedly a slow one, introducing villains from past Spiderman movies. Still, once it adapts to its rhythm, the trials and tribulations of Peter Parker and friends, including college application and school stresses, are effective at drawing its audience in. 

No Way Home’s use of the multiverse develops the plot, evokes emotion in its audience, and connects to our feelings of nostalgia

No Way Home’s success also largely rests on its skill in evoking nostalgia in its viewers. I went to see the film a couple of days after it came out, having evaded TikTok spoilers since its release. When Andrew Garfield, Holland’s predecessor, popped up on the screen, people genuinely cheered in the seats around me. Similar reactions were heard when the first blockbuster Spiderman, Tobey Maguire, nonchalantly entered the action. Having been to many blockbuster movies in Edinburgh cinemas over the years, I had never experienced something like that – cinema cheers were a very American idea, having seen some clips of people reacting in similar ways to Endgame. I think this was a testament to the connection that many felt to this movie – for many, Spiderman had underlined much of their childhood and teenager years. Even for me, someone whose early exposure to Spiderman consisted of being forced to watch an Andrew Garfield Spiderman film, not understanding it, and only remembering the strange man who turned into a lizard, I understood the nostalgia felt by so many during this film. Rather than momentary cameos, No Way Home’s use of the multiverse develops the plot, evokes emotion in its audience and connects to our feelings of nostalgia. 

The first pandemic-era film to cross $1 billion at the box office

What I think is most notable about No Way Home, aside from the exciting crossovers and engaging plot, is the impact it has had on pandemic cinema. As the first pandemic-era film to cross $1 billion at the box office, there is no question of the film’s ability to draw people back into the cinema. There is no doubt about the difficulty cinema has faced in the past two years – with films often releasing simultaneously in cinemas and on-demand, and Covid concerns and closures keeping audiences from the cinema, these venues have been some of the most affected. No Way Home, however, brought crowds back to cinemas in their millions, even with the looming threat of the Omicron variant. For this struggling industry, No Way Home provided at least some support and confidence in the cinema experience.

Meeting its own hype, and often exceeding it, No Way Home is a genuinely exciting cinema experience. Its ability to balance its multiverse characters, without overshadowing the core cast of the trilogy, is commendable. It will be interesting to see where the multiverse crops up next after its behemoth success, as well as where Marvel takes its films in 2022, given the incredible triumphs seen in 2021. 

Image Credits: Hector Reyes via Unsplash

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