Spider-Man: No Way Home is a sweeping superhero epic that obliterates already high expectations. The fearless web slinger, his dear friends, and beloved aunt face a dilemma that will reshape their destinies. Everything they hold sacred is tested in a formidable way with no easy choices. The film is a rollercoaster of adventure and emotions. Spider-Man: No Way Home will thrill, surprise, and break your heart. This review is spoiler-free.
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns from London with his world turned upside down. Mysterio’s cruel deception has revealed his secret identity and branded him a cold-blooded murderer. J. Jonah Jameson’s (J.K. Simmons) Daily Bugle website has made him public enemy number one. The media hounds him at every turn. The government treats him like a criminal.
Peter can take any punch, but the aftermath also destroys the lives of those he loves. MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), Happy (Jon Favreau), and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) are tossed into the fray. Peter’s guilt reaches a breaking point. He begs Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for a magical resolve to his problems. The powerful sorcerer conjures a spell that can erase everyone’s memories of Peter. Their plan goes awry in spectacular fashion. They unwittingly affect the multiverse and bring dangerous new adversaries into their reality.
Spider-Man: No Way Home successfully explores Peter’s greatest weakness. He’s not a billionaire, doesn’t have a secret lair, or any real recourse to betrayal. Tony Stark plucked him from obscurity. Peter’s a high school kid from Queens that used his tremendous powers for good. Anonymity was his only legitimate shield from retribution. The film shows how his lack of resources makes everything he treasures vulnerable.
The ensemble cast is phenomenal. The stunning visual effects and pulse-pounding action scenes take second fiddle to a complex plot that focuses intently on character interactions. The supporting players bring a lot of baggage that has to be unpacked. Events across the spectrum of previous Spider-Man and MCU films have great importance. They influence Peter in ways that will delight and absolutely crush audiences. Tears will flow like rivers at key points. Director Jon Watts sublimely entwines classic storylines into his narrative of Spider-Man. He has done an incredible job building character exposition in his trilogy of films. Each player has undergone a significant transformation from Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The level of detail assumes the audience has seen every Spider-Man and MCU film. Jon Watts, his screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, take no time explaining Spider-Man 101 to neophytes. The twists, humor, and tragedies reward those who have been ardent fans from the beginning. This is especially true in a whopper third act loaded with reveals. Superhero stories get a lot of criticism for being trivial and predictable, big-budget mainstream cinema. Genre haters can go suck an egg. Films are rarely this layered or involved.
There are jaw-dropping moments just begging to be discussed. Social media will be lit on fire and covered with gasoline. Tune out the distractions. Avoid spoilers if possible. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a dish best enjoyed cold. Stick around during and after the credits. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a production of Marvel Studios, Pascal Pictures, and Columbia Pictures. It will be released exclusively in theaters on December 16th from Sony Pictures.