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Spider-man: No Way Home

"You're struggling to have everything you want while the world tries to make you choose."

After nine Spider-man movies (yes, I’m counting Into the Spider-verse), we have finally gotten a live action film that nails the character, world and above all the emotion.

I have a weird relationship with the first trilogy of Spider-man films. I thought the first one was fine, and the third was overstuffed and not great. The second one was very good, but I had worked on the excellent video game adaptation before it was released so I knew the plot and ending before the movie came out, and honestly I was a bit underwhelmed. It is probably the best of the first seven movies released, but now that we have Into the Spider-verse and No Way Home, Spider-man 2 places a distant third in my book.

So what makes this film so great? About a thousand things; this has not only great parts, but a whole that is better. It flows incredibly well, and is funny and sad, and exactly what a film this far into a franchise needs to be. I’ll go into some specifics here, but first there are two major things I need to say up front. First, go see this before reading a review that may contain spoilers. While I’m not going into anything beyond what the trailers revealed, the sheer number of wonderful moments in this film are staggering and I strongly recommend not spoiling yourself. Secondly, if you are not familiar with all of the Spider-man movies (not including Into the Spider-verse) you may not get as much out of this film. You don’t have to love them, but it is a good idea to know basic plot and character information.

Alright, let's start with the cast. Tom Holland returning as Peter Parker/Spider-man is at the top of his game here, showing strength and a sincere level of vulnerability that defines this version of the character. He is absolutely the anchor that holds the film together, and shows his range and power as an actor in multiple scenes. For a character that has occasionally been comic relief or a surrogate child for other heroes (namely Iron Man), this is the story where he becomes an adult, and it is about as heavy as you can imagine something like that might be.

Zendaya as MJ also does some amazing work, not only as the primary love interest for Peter, but as a delightful presence that creates this lovely counterbalance to the rest of the characters. Every one of her scenes made me like her more, and it could easily be seen why Peter and MJ work together as a couple. There is an effortlessness to Zendaya’s performance that was a bit absent from her first two appearances.

Jacob Batalon as Ned was also good, but is definitely the weakest element of the trio as Peter’s best friend. Here the character feels a bit superfluous, but because he spent quite a bit of time with MJ in this one their friendship was finally established. He does have some good moments, and some nicely delivered dialogue and his onscreen chemistry with both leads was great. He did feel a bit like a third wheel, and he had no character arc to speak of (he had more in Far From Home).

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange was a welcome addition to the story, serving less as a mentor and more as a plot device. He does work very well within the story and interacts with the characters with just the right balance to not take away anything from Peter and MJ. He had some great lines too, and continues to be a character that I like and want to see again. Wong also had a couple of good scenes with his perfect chemistry with Strange, and there is a fun dynamic between the two that I wasn’t expecting.

I also have to mention Marisa Tomei and John Favreau who were both back as Aunt May and Happy Hogan respectively, and each gave really lovely performances that elevated every scene they were in. Specifically Tomei’s relationship with Peter is given a lot of weight and important character beats that served the dual purpose of forwarding Peter’s character arc and giving Aunt May a greater role than in the previous films.

Last but certainly not least are the villains. There have been enough straight up media spoilers about three major returning characters that I feel talking about them isn't a major spoiler. They are Alfred Molina as Doc Ock returning from Spider-man 2, Jamie Foxx returning as Electro from Amazing Spider-man 2, and Willem Defoe as Green Goblin from the original Spider-man. I won’t go into the how or why these characters return, but each brings so much to the table. Alfred Molina picks up basically exactly where he left off, and is even better than he was in Spider-man 2. In my opinion. Foxx gets to do more with the role than in his previous appearance, but it is Defoe that I want to talk about some more.

Willem Defoe was fine as Green Goblin way back in Spider-man. He was a bit over the top, and because he was trying to establish the type of villain he was, he went too far in certain scenes and it never fully worked. Now, perhaps after thinking about the role for a couple of decades, he gets it right. He delivers a level of menace and pathos that elevates the character in a way that actually makes his previous appearance better. A villain who is just as horrible as you need, but is still pitiable and you can understand his internal conflict and reasons for his actions.

This is also a visually gorgeous film that feels like the MCU, but also delivers moments that I’ve never seen before. Also, unlike some other Marvel films the final act is not only full of spectacle, it is firmly anchored in character. The action flows so well and does so much to deliver what this film promises, that I’m still at a loss for how they pulled it off. With so many elements and such a complicated story, it could’ve easily gone off the rails. Yet somehow, the emotional payoff left me feeling like I had just seen the best movie of the year (it wasn’t, but it was close).


There is one mid-credit scene and something at the end of the credits that may tease what is coming next in the MCU.

This film does pick up immediately after Far From Home, and if you have not seen that film you may not understand some of the primary motivations and plots that shape the film.

There is a somewhat controversial plot device used in this film that constitutes a major spoiler and I won’t go into details in this review.

The number of Easter Eggs packed into this film are almost overwhelming. For fans of the comics, previous Spider-man films and the MCU in general, there is a lot to notice.

While I cannot say more without spoilers, this wasn’t just the best live action Spider-man (in my humble opinion) but elevates everything that came before it. With a nearly perfect balance of pacing, humor, action, emotion and drama and the right kind of fan service, this will likely top a lot of MCU best of lists for years to come.

4 out of 4 Villains From Another World

While this is a spoiler-free review, I am going to encourage commenters to speak freely. My only request is we do not have spoilers in the first few words of your comments, because those do show up on our front page.

Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.


  1. Haven't seen the movie yet so I can't comment on it, but you work/worked in video games?! That's super, super cool! (And kinda small world since I'm beginning to do the same.) Anyways. I will be back hopefully soonish once I see it. This might be the first film I see in theatre since the pandemic hit. I'm really excited about the fact that it is bringing back so many characters from the past iterations. Like that's just a geek dream come true.

  2. I just watched this with my teenager, I can speak from the 'casual enjoyer who doesn't catch many Easter eggs' perspective. I very much enjoyed the balance of action, humor, drama, and the characters. I felt like Aunt May's death could have been extremely cliche, but instead fit the story and the characters well. It also gave an excuse at the end to reconnect Happy and Peter in an organic way.
    As my son had insisted on binging 5 Spiderman movies in the past 3 days, he very much enjoyed catching a lot of those Easter eggs, and probably others that the film designers didn't intend lol.

  3. I really liked it or at least I really liked parts of it. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole, mostly because of this:

    > There is a somewhat controversial plot device used in this film that constitutes a major spoiler and I won’t go into details in this review.

    I assume you are talking about the amnesia plot? I hate it. That's probably my least favorite plot device in science fiction / supernatural stories. Then again, when the movie was ending, I thought "are they writing Spiderman out of the MCU?" That would've been a pretty epic, melancholic way to do it, but no, there will be another trilogy.

    I thought the movie had a lot of logic holes that were fundamental for the plot to develop the way it did. I know Peter is very young, but he has enough experience to not let all the villains out at once. Come on. I would not have invited one mugger to my place back when I was a teenager, let alone five. And I have a hard time believing that (1) Stranger would agree to do the spell and (2) he would not take into consideration that Peter didn't want *everyone* to forget. “Oh, yeah, Peter, let me clarify this huge element of the spell while I'm casting it.” Sure.

    Shouldn't Gwen have returned as well? If they are bringing everyone back from the moment before they die, she should've been there too, right? Then again, if that had been the case, the movie would've been about Garfield's Spiderman, not about Holland's. Hey, maybe if they had brought Gwen back, this could've been about Garfield's Peter not wanting to undo the spell, which would've made more sense than making all those bad guys good again only for them to die one second after returning to their universes. Okay, I'll stop. I'm biased, Garfield is my favorite. And I loved his role in this movie, and how we got closure for his character, something I thought was dead and cancelled for good.

    Holland was great, he carried the movie with ease, and the supporting cast was great as well. I wasn't moved by Aunt May's death because I couldn't wrap my head around her stupid idea to redeem the villains. But the scene was very well done (it reminded me a lot of a certain death on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fifth season finale) and I liked the impact May's death had on Peter's arc.

    The final fight didn't do much for me. It was practically one villain attacking at a time, which seemed too easy. But kudos to the writers, the movie didn't feel overstuffed. Defoe and Molina were terrific, and it didn't feel like the movie had too many villains. It wasn't about the villains, but about a bad situation spiraling out of control.

    Garfield saving MJ was everything. EVERYTHING. AMAZING SPIDERMAN III OR DEATH!

    Maguire keeping Holland from killing the Goblin another terrific moment.

    All in all, I think this movie was a good metaphor for how the pressure to get into a prestigious college can ruin a young person’s life.

    > I had worked on the excellent video game adaptation before it was released so I knew the plot and ending before the movie came out

    I echo An Honest Fangirl, that is really cool. :)


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