Spider-Man: No Way Home has been out for a week now and with tickets at least a little bit more available, we wanted to dive into spoilers with our Now Way Home review round-up from our writers. So here is your spoiler warning. Our reviewers talked about expectations, their favorite characters, the emotion they felt while watching, and of course some ways the film could have improved. Ultimately though, this Now Way Home review round-up also asks the question: What does No Way Home mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)?
So, if you’ve watched the film, scroll on down to read everything our writers are saying about Spider-Man: No Way Home in this review round-up.
What did you expect going into the movie?
Adrian: My expectations going in were for something that we typically don’t get in the comic book films and that’s a satisfying third movie.The previous Spider-Man installations in MCU has left the community divided on Tom Holland as Spider-Man so I was hoping that No Way Home would bridge the community back together in love for the webslinger.
CJ: My hopes were that we would get a satisfying story that picked up after the end of Far From Home and also juggled the characters from the other incarnations of the Spider-Man films.
Nikko: There’s a quote by MJ that I keep thinking of, “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.” I wasn’t a big fan of Far From Home, so I didn’t really know what to expect other than to be a definitive conclusion to this new trilogy. But even then, I was worried as to whether or not this would be a worthy conclusion.
Swara: I was ultimately just hoping for this film to be coherent. Previous Spider-Man films that have capped off trilogies/duologies have been mediocre or downright bad because of the sheer amount they tried to include, and I was scared that No Way Home would be the same. Thankfully, I was proven VERY wrong.
Jason: I had very high hopes, because, for better or for worse, the marketing and leaks around this movie were basically unavoidable. So I wasn’t hoping for much as much as I was expecting it. The one hope I had was that it be as good a movie as I was anticipating, and in that, I was absolutely not disappointed.
Ricardo: The trailers, leaks, and excessing marketing kind of ruined the hype for me so I was expecting a fun little superhero film with too much nostalgia.
Who was your favorite character?
Adrian: Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. We have seen that Holland can deliver on the physical and quippy side Spider-Man but the previous two films hadn’t pushed him to give us the emotional outside of the rubble scene in Homecoming. Holland showed that he can deliver on expressing the emotional toll it takes to be Spider-Man in multiple scenes in No Way Home rivaling some of the best delivery we seen in the MCU.
CJ: Peter Parker. All three of them. Holland got to show off his dramatic chops and both Maguire and Garfield had the chance to step back into the webs and gain some closure as their respective franchises ended on a bit of a mixed bag.
Nikko: While the previous two iterations of Peter Parker made an appearance in the film and were given their own worthy conclusions, my favorite character was Tom Holland’s Peter. The emotions that he brought from the loss of Aunt May really resonated with me in such a personal way. His will to let his friend and girlfriend go by the end of the film could be seen as a wrong choice, but he put their lives before his. He has quickly become my favorite version of Peter Parker and Spider-Man and I am very excited to see what the future has in store for him.
Swara: In spite of, and even BECAUSE of everything and everyone around him, this was Tom Holland’s Peter’s film. He brought such emotional caliber to the role in what is absolutely his best performance as Peter Parker, especially after the tragic loss of Aunt May, and I’m so excited to see where he goes next.
Jason: I have to hand it to the villains in this one. Everyone else has already said more than enough praise for the Spider-Men, but every single villain in this movie brought so much emotion and action. Norman at F.E.A.S.T. Doc Oc as he made his turn. Electro was hilarious and even Sandman was a really solid example of how villainy is so often a matter of myriad circumstances beyond these human beings’ immediate control. The emotion they all brought as we watched them struggle alongside the heroes was some of cinema’s best.
Ricardo: The Green Goblin was superb. Brought to life by a superb Willem Dafoe (well, he’s always superb), he felt like a dangerous villain whose duality made him unpredictable. Killing Aunt May was the perfect touch to remind us all why this is one of Spidey’s greatest foes too. Close second is Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man: a hurt man with a chip on his shoulder.
What was your favorite part?
Adrian: Outside of the nostalgia bomb that is seeing all three Peter’s interact, I have to give a special shout out to the action. From Osborn both dropping a Batisa Bomb AND Spinebuster through multiple floors on an apartment building, to the Dr. Strange verus Spider-Man in Mirrior Direction to the final climatic battle scene, I was in awe of how well it was executed was spectacular.
CJ: The three Spideys interacting. From their scientific know-how to talking about their webs and villains to that final hug, the interplay between the three is the kind of chemistry you can’t fake and I’d watch a whole movie of them hanging out.
Nikko: The very first interaction that all three Spider-Men have is my favorite part. The grief and trauma that all three of them have experienced and being able to relate to one another was very moving to see. It resonated with me deeply to the point where I found myself reaching for tissues throughout that entire interaction.
Swara: Can I say all of it? Lol, but seriously the highlight for me was seeing all the Spider-Men fight and coordinate against the villains together, and the emotional catharsis they gave to each other. It was so beautiful to watch and had me bawling.
Jason: Easily Andrew Garfield saving MJ. The look on his face when he realized he got to redeem himself wrecked me. I knew it was going to happen, it was telegraphed too hard in the marketing, but it still had me bawling anyway. The convo between the Spidey’s about their weirdest villains was also absolutely hilarious, and I loved the whole sequence with MJ and Ned making the magic work and testing out the other Peters.
Ricardo: Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man saving MJ. Garfield’s performance made it even more powerful. After his Peter catches MJ, you can see the weight of trauma in his eyes and how meaningful this moment is; it speaks volumes of the immense talent of Garfield that he managed to communicate such pain despite the fact that this whole arc had been left incomplete due to poor writing and decision-making in The Spider-Man 2.
What could it have done better?
Adrian: My initial thought would be to say I wanted more Doc Ock or I wanted more Dr. Strange or some other side character but in the end, it wasn’t their movie. No Way Home packs A LOT of characters into one movie and I think they all get the time they needed to shine.
CJ: I feel that Doctor Strange could have been utilized a bit better; he flits in and out of the story and acts as a deus ex machina.
Nikko: While other solo films in the MCU have had multiple appearances from other heroes, there were times where Doctor Strange felt like such a forgettable character. His character should have had a bigger impact on the story rather than just be the Magic McGuffin for the story. It felt as if his character was just there to set up his solo film, which makes sense, but I would’ve wanted more of the story to be about Peter or to at least have Strange be a more active character.
Swara: While I enjoyed what we got of Doc Ock, I wish we got a bit more and more exploration of his interiority, especially after he was the first to become a good guy. But still, for what we got, Alfred Molina is a masterclass actor.
Ricardo: The whole set-up is immensely lazy and rushed. The entire conflict boils down to both Peter and Doctor Strange being very irresponsible, one by coming up with a stupid solution to his problem and the other for rushing to use a dangerous spell mere seconds after a dumb teenager came rushing to his manor asking for help while providing little detail. Awful writing to set-up a very important moment for fans.
Give us your No Way Home one-sentence-review
Adrian: If Homecoming was about the physical toll of Spider-Man and Far From Home was mental, then No Way Home was all about the emotional toll and it is one that elevates Tom Holland’s Spider-Man into a category all his own.
CJ: Spider-Man: No Way Home is an exhilarating and emotional celebration of the web-slinger’s cinematic legacy.
Nikko: Spider-Man: No Way Home is a definitive ending for the MCU trilogy that elevates the titular character to new levels through life-altering challenges. 9/10
Swara: Spider-Man: No Way Home is a magnificent film that puts Peter Parker through the ringer in transcendently devastating ways, making it one of the best Spider-Man and superhero films.
Jason: No Way Home is my new favorite Spider-Man movie and MCU movie as it delivers a new meaning to “great power” through the most human thing possible: second chances.
Ricardo: Spider-Man: No Way Home is more than nostalgia, it’s a thrilling spectacle that not only managed to create a wonderful sense of community in these terrible times, but it also successfully celebrated the legacy of Spider-Man by truly understanding the essence of what he represents.
What do you think No Way Home means for the MCU?
Adrian: It opens the door wide open for the next trilogy for Spider-Man in the MCU. It allows Spider-Man to go back to being a drop in hero and fight his own villains where the options are plenty. The crumbs have been dropped for things like Spider-Man with the Venom symbiote, Ned as Hobgoblin, and even Flash as Agent Venom. There is no need to reboot the web-slinger for a long time and I am totally okay with that.
CJ: I definitely think the fallout from No Way Home will spill over into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, especially since we received a trailer at the end of the film. I also think that we’ll see another Spidey trilogy dealing with Peter’s time in college, and him building a new set of friends and foes.
Nikko: The consequences, losses, and challenges that characters will face from now on will be on a different level. Starting with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, the world of the MCU will venture off into unknown territory with unknown dangers. This definitely won’t be the last that we see of Holland as Spider-Man, but it will be interesting to see where his character goes from here.
Swara: I hope that what it means is that the MCU will take more dire risks with its heroes and puts them more through the wringer, in such a way that doesn’t feel like there’s an easy way out. I think that unfortunately the security of Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D. and their connections to military institutions have hindered what these characters could be, and I’d like for them to take a page from No Way Home and break out of that for truly compelling stories.
Jason: Besides the obvious lead into Doctor Strange’s next outing, I also think it means a whole new era for Spider-Man stories is possible. The final scene with Peter dirt poor in an empty apartment and a home-made suit and GED book means that when next we see Spider-Man, his struggles will be detached from Tony’s legacy and tech and more free to explore some of the street-level woes of NYC. Maybe since every Spider-Man movie seems to be a team-up, his next affair will be with some of the heroes we’re seeing arise on Disney+? I also think we’re in for Miles Morales soo, but not at the expense of Peter’s death.
Ricardo: I guess it sets up a bunch of multiverse madness action (hehe) for Doctor Strange to clean. I’m not really excited about that or the chaotic direction that the MCU is taking, so I’ll use the opportunity to tackle this subject from a different angle given the recent Tom Holland comments, the huge box office success, and Sony’s intentions to push the film for Oscar consideration.
I doubt it will happen, but from a purely sporting perspective, having Spider-Man: Far From Home nominated for Best Pictures at the Oscars would be fascinating. The Academy is desperate for better ratings and this would be a great experiment to see if Spidey attracts casual audiences to watch the telecast. If that happens, would that motivate casual fans to get out of their comfort zone to try to watch not-blockbuster films? Would Willem Dafoe be considered for a (deserving in my opinion) Best Supporting Actor nod? How would it transform the awards landscape? Would Disney and Marvel try to do the same every year with their big MCU hits? I’m curious to explore the answers to all these questions.
However, as we all know, there are only extremes in the world of social media, therefore having Spider-man in the Oscars conversation would produce a horrendous wasteland of online discourse. On one hand, we would have MCU fans fending off their own insecurities by trying to talk down drama films (that they haven’t seen) with tremendously bad takes. On the other hand, we would have pretentious arthouse snobs try to make Spider-Man fans feel bad while they smell their own farts and, ironically, highlight and vote for racist films such as West Side Story and Being the Ricardos. What I’m trying to say here is, regardless of Spidey getting a Best Picture nod, we would all be losers alike.
With glowing reviews and a whole lot of love, our No Way Home review round-up seems clear: Spider-Man: No Way Home is a film that moves people, can shake up awards season, and bridges three generations of Spideys in a way that has emotion, not just nostalgia. Let us know if you’re watching No Way Home this weekend on social media: @butwhythopc.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Review Round-Up will add more writer responses as more of our critics see the film.