An Honest Film Review of Spiderman: No Way Home
Spiderman: No Way Home has been the talk of town since the last few weeks with all of us eagerly waiting for its release. The action packed trailers for the movie along with the rave reviews created a sort of pandemonium which prompted me to watch the movie at the earliest, but boy oh boy, I walked out of the movie theatre as disappointed as excited I was to watch it in the first place. After going through multiple rave reviews and headlines, I was made to question my perception of the movie as I thought there must be something that I was unable to see or experience that the experts did. Further introspection didn’t do anything to deter my original belief but only fortified them and encouraged me to share my views about the movie with the entire world, or should I say…worlds.
The third installment of Spiderman starts with the entire world finding out about Peter Parker being the friendly “neighbourhood” Spiderman with him being falsely accused of killing Mysterio in addition to allowing a bunch of illegal fighter drones owned by the Stark Industries to launch an attack on earth. The aforementioned events do not only impact Peter’s life but also his friends Ned and MJ’s lives too. After Ned & MJ do not get accepted into MIT because of their association with Spiderman, Peter decides to approach Dr Strange to help make everyone forget that he is Spiderman.
Strange (strangely) decides to help Peter in this endeavour and casts a spell to help him but Peter being Peter constantly distracts Strange by changing what he wants the spell to achieve. The spell gets miscast and ends up attracting some of our all-time favorite villains like Green Goblin & Doc Ock who know that Peter is Spiderman in the current timeline from all the other universes in this multiverse Here is a very honest review of Spiderman: No Way Home which assesses what went right/wrong, questions left unanswered and looking ahead at the future:
(Caution: Spoilers Ahead)
The best moment of the whole Spiderman: No Way Home experience came at the very end and no I am not referring to Peter urging Dr Strange to cast the spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker exists in the current timeline. Instead I am talking about the post credit trailer for Dr Strange: The Multiverse of Madness which shows Strange witnessing the breaking of the main MCU timeline, reaching out to Wanda for help to correct the misdoings that have led to the multiverse, encountering our old frenemy Mordo and coming across multiple variants of himself.
Why would Dr Strange agree to helping Peter using a dangerous spell: The first part of the Dr Strange series did a good job of establishing Strange as an intelligent individual and a powerful sorcerer in the making. Avenger: Infinity Wars did a great job of showing Strange’s dedication towards protecting the integrity of time by initially refusing to give up the Time stone to Thanos in case it came down to protecting the sanctity of time & the universe versus saving the lives of Tony Stark and Peter Parker. It’s hard to comprehend that Strange would help his friend & fellow avenger Peter by casting a dangerous and time altering spell inorder to achieve something trivial. This not only damages Strange’s credibility but also shows the need for Sokovia Accords and how our superheroes too need supervision from time to time.
Peter Parker’s Ultimate Sacrifice: The movie tries to showcase how the naive teenager becomes the “responsible” superhero by the end of it. One of the main angles used during the movie is Peter asking Dr Strange to make everyone forget about his existence during the climax in order to save the current timeline. Sure in a vacuum this was the ultimate sacrifice but once we put things in context to realise that it was Peter who played a crucial part in giving birth to this problem so therefore, he had no other choice but to make this sacrifice inorder to redeem himself. We need to ask ourselves if he would’ve done the same had he not been the culprit. I’m certain the writers could have found a better way of showcasing Peter’s journey of understanding how with great power comes great responsibility.
Aunt May’s Demise: The demise seemed like merely a way of replicating the tradition of Uncle Ben dying during the other Spiderman installments. Taking Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker as an example, it was very clear that the event shook Peter and affected him greatly during all 3 movies of the installment. It gives him enough time to keep processing the death and showcases his struggle, anguish & anger very well. In the case of Tom Holland’s Peter, he was barely given any time to process the death and it all felt very rushed. The question is whether Aunt May’s death was even required and wasn’t potentially breaking the timeline enough of an incentive for Peter to become a responsible hero?
Lack of LOL and emotional moments due to poor character chemistry and shoddy dialogue writing: One of the hallmarks of a good marvel movie is its ability to make the viewers chuckle and laugh during the most serious of times with funny quips and banter between the characters that usually stems from their great on-screen chemistry. Unfortunately, No Way Home was devoid of both as it constantly struggled to come up with funny moments and the humor was at best cringe worthy. One moment which epitomized this was Garfield telling the other Spidermen that he loved them during one of the serious moments of the movie which felt more forced than funny as they barely knew each other and didn’t have much time to build character chemistry.
Another moment which showed poor dialogue writing and the movie’s lack of emotion was after Aunt May’s death when Holland’s Peter is on the rooftop taking in the event but soon encounters different variants of himself. Both Tobey Maguire’s Peter and Andrew Garfield’s Peter share their story of their respective losses, how they processed them and how these losses lead to their transformation. Ideally this should have been one of the most potent moments of the movie but the scene felt insipid and flat.
Too many villains spoil the broth: The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Lizard and the Sandman all made a comeback and entered the current timeline as a result of the botched spell. The screen time was dominated by Green Goblin who once again was played astonishingly well by Dafoe followed by Doc Ock and Electro. It felt like the other villains were brought back for no reason and just to add to the numbers and service fan pleasing moments. Additionally, the movie could have done without Doc Ock and Sandman since their character arc ended on a positive note during their respective movies and there was no need to bring them back as villains. Maybe bringing back the Vulture could have paid big dividends as he had personal vendetta against Tom Holland’s Spiderman and had a reason to avenge what happened to him.
Some unanswered questions and looking ahead:
How does the spell to make everyone forget Peter Parker work in the end: We still do not know how the spell actually works in going about erasing memories of Peter Parker. After the spell is successfully cast in the end, Peter goes back to the donut shop to meet MJ and it is clearly visible that she is wearing the necklace that Peter gave him in Europe. Why is she still wearing the necklace if memories of Peter Parker do not exist anymore and hasn’t she questioned who gave her the necklace in the first place
Was the spell changed 5 or 6 times: Strange told Peter that he had to change the spell 6 times while he was casting it but Peter corrected him and told him that it was only 5. Was this an honest mistake by Strange or he did actually cast something in addition which he didn’t say out loud.
The Venom: Tom Hardy’s Venom also makes his way into the main timeline as a result of Strange’s botched spell. In the end when Strange recasts the spell, Venom is sent back to the original timeline but leaves behind some of the black symbiote. As we have witnessed in the past the symbiote will eventually find a host body and create havoc. Assuming that venom already existed in the main timeline, does this signal that there will potentially be 2 Venoms in the current MCU timeline?
MCU Movie Trailers: Over a period of time, the MCU movie trailers have become incredibly revealing. After watching the trailer and then the movie, it was of no surprise that one could easily predict how the botched spell was going to bring back all these villains leading to the ultimate showdown between them and the Spidermen. If the trailers had not revealed this, it would have added another layer to the viewing experience and would’ve led to some spine chilling moments. I wonder if Marvel should think about limiting the amount of information that is given out by the trailers moving forward.
How was Ned able to use Strange’s sling ring: It is surprising to see Ned being able to use the sling ring to use some of the sorcerer magic which even took someone as talented as Strange some time to learn. Does this mean Ned belongs to a family of sorcerers and has secret powers unknown to all?
The concept for Spiderman: No Way Home is ambitious and intriguing but one that is poorly executed. The recent dip in the quality of Marvel movies clearly signals some sort of a post Avengers: Endgame hangover. Even though the MCU shows such as Wandavison, Loki & What if have been a breath of fresh air, movies like Black Widow, the Eternals and now the new installment of Spiderman have left a lot more to be desired.
Pranit is the Director of Tangerine Biosciences, a science based natural solutions and herbal extracts company. While pursuing Bachelors of Science from Purdue University he was also the Philanthropy Chair at the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. In his spare time, he likes to binge watch Marvel movies, is a food & wine aficionado and can be found addicted to his Sleeper app buzzing with Fantasy Football updates on Sports Sundays.