Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei
Cinematographer: Mauro Fiore
Editor: Jeffrey Ford, Leigh Folsom Boyd
I have briefly spoken about the Marvel and superhero cinema fatigue in some of my reviews and columns earlier. Having just witnessed the spectacle that is Spider-Man: No Way Home, I am willing to take my words back, put them in blender, bake them for 2.5 hours and eat it. When Avengers: Endgame hit the theatres in 2019, it became a collective experience for fan-boys and casual audiences alike. Theatres were filled with people, cheering, celebrating and whooping as the Infinity Saga, told over a decade came to its epic conclusion.
Watching Spider-Man: No Way Home is the closest you will come to reliving that experience. To its credit, No Way Home weaves together stories, characters, moments and icons of more than two decades, to deliver applause and cheers that reverberate just as loud in half-empty, post-pandemic cinema halls.
It'll be risky to get into the plot in-depth, for that runs the risk of giving away too much of what makes the film so good. However, for those who have seen the trailers, the basic plot holds. The movie starts moments after Spider-Man: No Way Home's reveal by J Jonah Jameson – that Spider-Man is Peter Parker (Tom Holland). This public revelation has strong consequences for Peter, Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), his friend Ned and girlfriend M J (Zendaya).
Peter, distressed at the thought of jeopardising the lives and futures of his loved ones, takes Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)'s help in wiping the memory of 'Peter Parker is Spider-man' from the world. A mix of Peter's childishness and Doctor Strange's hubris results in the spell going wrong and multiversal villians, who remember Peter Parker, seeping through. The gang's plan is to collect the Spidey villains like Pokemons and send them back to their universes. That's, of course, till Peter realizes that sending them back to their worlds means their inevitable death fighting Spiderman. Our Peter realises that it is a choice he does not want to make, and maybe there is a chance to save all of them before they meet their fate.
The first half of No Way Home spends time setting up these stakes – sometimes at the cost of pacing. However, that is an acceptable flaw in the grander scheme of pay-offs. There are enough action sequences, and easter eggs along the way, to keep you hooked as the plot builds up to its inevitable, high stakes second half. No Way Home walks a fine line, delivering on fans' Herculean expectations from all the pre-release hype, while creating an emotional cinematic experience that concludes Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy on a high.
And deliver it does – from 'Hell Yeah' cameos, nostalgia and subtle pot-shots at DCEU; to full-blown moments comparable to 'Avengers Assemble' that we've waited decades for. All of this is a tall task, and to No Way Home's credit, none of it feels un-earned. Backed by strong performances by its lead cast, the movie's longer run-time lets its key characters and villains shine. Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina deliver impeccable performances, reprising their roles as Green Goblin and Doc Ock, while Jacob Batalon remains the steadfast comedic relief and best friend.
Spider-Man: No Way Home takes what audiences and fans loved about the 2000s Spider-Man movies, learns from what didn't work in the Amazing Spiderman reboots; and makes it all work in the multiversal, heartfelt template of Into the Spiderverse. For long-time Spidey fans of both comic books and movies, No Way Home is the movie we had been waiting for – a once-in-a-lifetime, near-perfect web-shooter cocktail for one of the most endearing and relatable superheroes in the Marvel pantheon.