“Spider-Man: No Way Home” gives new life to nostalgic characters


Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures

Peter Parker returning to school after he is outed as Spider-Man

Sydney Lawson, Lifestyle Editor

When asked the highlight of their winter break, those I asked didn’t respond with holiday celebrations or time off of school. For many, it was seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” arguably the most anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) release in a long time. 

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” picks up right where the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” end credits left off  with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) revealing Spider-Man’s identity as Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Suddenly, the entire world knows Peter Parker’s name and deems him the villain that attacked London and killed Mysterio. Under the scrutinization of the law and public opinion, Parker desperately seeks out a way to make it all go away.

He finds a solution from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch): a spell that would make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. When Parker tampers with the spell, portals from across the multiverse introduce new villains into his world, most of whom have the sole goal of vengeance against Spider-Man. The film follows Parker as he works to determine where they came from and send them back home, hopefully better off than when they arrived.

So much rested on this film’s shoulders. For many people, including myself, it was their first premier viewing since before the pandemic. Conspiracies and suspicions about the film were trending on social media for weeks prior to it’s release. Fans of the original trilogy featuring Tobey Maguire and duology featuring Andrew Garfield were anxious to see how the film included old beloved characters. 

Despite such high expectations, “No Way Home” did not disappoint. 

This movie managed to leave me laughing out loud in one moment, and sitting with a shattered heart in the next. The ending of the film left me feeling gutted, my heart aching for a fictional character. 

Part of the charm of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has always been his youthfulness. He actually feels like a teenager in highschool, portraying all of the eagerness and humor that comes with his age. Other cinematic Spider-Men have felt older than their years, and not just because of their actors’ true age. Holland’s Spider-Man finally experiences the grief and sacrifice that caused his predecessors to mature so quickly. The end leaves the audience with a bittersweet feeling that Parker is finally becoming an adult.

Holland’s range of emotion throughout this film is astounding. We see the same happy-go-lucky, nerdy boy from the first films, as well as a Spider-Man that is hurting, enraged and vengeful. Fans of a more serious, charming Spider-Man will be pleased to see the growth of Holland’s character. 

For me, the standout performance in this film was Willem Dafoe’s reprisal as Green Goblin. He exudes a sense of genuine evil that I feel outshines any other MCU villain to date. Dafoe’s acting, line delivery and life he gives to his character successfully sent chills down my spine and invoked feelings of dread, discomfort, sadness and rage within me. 

If I have one criticism for this film, it’s the believability of the plot and certain characterization. Namely, Dr. Strange’s characterization and willingness to cast such a dangerous spell in the first place for such a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. 

Dr. Strange has previously been characterized as stoic and responsible. There’s a drastic difference between the Strange of “Infinity War” who told Tony Stark that he would save the stone before he would save Parker, and the Strange of this film who would do something so reckless. 

One criticism I have seen online for this film is that it includes far too much fan service. Yes, this film is clearly honoring the elements of the “Spider-Man” films that have been beloved to fans for years, but that isn’t inherently a bad thing. In my opinion, fan service only ruins a film if it tries so hard to please fans that it results in mischaracterization or divergence from an intended or original plotneither of which is the case in this film.


Speaking of fan service, this is your last warning for spoilers. 


I wouldn’t be doing this review justice if I didn’t mention the most exciting part of the film. This, of course, being the appearance of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. They provide lightheartedness and comedic relief to relieve some of the devastating weight of the film’s events. I had feared they would attempt to de-age the characters using CGI, so I appreciated the film instead reflects on what the Spider-Men might be up to at the actors’ actual ages.

With the nostalgia and love surrounding the 2002 and 2012 film series, I especially appreciate that the writers were vague about the details of the lives of the earlier Spider-Men. They respected that the Maguire and Garfield stories were not theirs to tell, and they made no character decisions that would drastically change or alter the lives of the Spider-Men dear to many peoples hearts. 

This film shot to the top of my list of favorite Marvel films, and is one that I am sure will remain iconic for years to come. Despite the emotional turmoil the film put me through, I still give it 5/5 stars.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is not only an emotional, resounding conclusion to Holland’s Spider-Man story, but a form of closure for past Spider-Men as well. While I grieve the characters and wholesomeness we lost throughout this film, I look forward to seeing what’s next for the franchise. Maybe we’ll even be seeing a new face behind the suit.