NOTE: The following review contains spoilers.
I’m just gonna say it: of course Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are in this movie. Due to multiverse shenanigans, both Peter Parkers from the original (good) Raimi movies and the Amazing duology (which I’ve not seen, but look pretty bad) enter the MCU to aid our young hero in defeating the villains from their movies. The cast and creatives (stretching that word a bit) at Marvel have spent the better part of this year pretending Maguire and Garfield are not in this movie. Garfield seems to have taken the brunt of it, constantly denying that he reprises his role while promoting tick, tick… Boom! Poor guy! Just let him say he’s in the damn movie! It’s one of the only good things about it! Now let’s get into it.
Spider-Man: No Way Home begins mere seconds after Far From Home’s surprise ending: Peter Parker (Tom Holland) having his secret identity as Spider-Man revealed to the world. Peter’s life immediately goes to hell, getting swarmed by fans and paparazzi, treated like a weirdo at school, and never having a moment’s rest. Worse, especially for a nice boy like Peter, this reveal is bringing down his loved ones as well. His friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) being denied from MIT due to their association is the last straw. So, of course, Peter realizes he can probably ask a wizard to help.
Peter meets up with his Avenger pal Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, who has settled into an American accent that’s basically fine) at his Sanctum Sanctorum and convinces the man to perform a spell to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man. Of course, this does not go well, because that’s a pretty big ask. The film sweatily explains that the spell backfired, drawing in people from across the multiverse who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Unfortunately for the lad, this means the villains from the Raimi trilogy and the two Amazing films. Watch out, Peter!
Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, and Jamie Foxx are all shockingly game. This is maybe not surprising for Foxx, the host of TV’s Beat Shazam, but Dafoe and Molina put in more than the bare minimum the movie asks for. Rhys Ifans and Thomas Hayden Church are represented by CGI, so maybe they weren’t as available? How did they get the movie this far and still settle for five villains instead of making the Sinister Six? Just bring in some guy! I’m asking too many questions about a movie that prays you ask very few.
The closest No Way Home comes to feeling like a real Spider-Man story is the way it decides to punish Peter for doing anything, this time in the form of killing off poor Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). While I guess I’m glad Tomei doesn’t have to play sixth fiddle in these things anymore, it came off as a somewhat callous move. The kid is 17! Wasn’t having Stark as his Uncle Ben enough? No Way Home really hammers into the poor kid that being Spider-Man means being alone. Which is good for my hopes of a nice little standalone Spider-Man movie, but I should know better. The post-credits sequence is just a trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for crying out loud!
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Dir. Jon Watts
Opens Friday, 12/17, pretty much everywhere (though, as always, the Hassle recommends the Capitol or your local independently-owned multiplex)
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