Spiderman: No Way You Should Miss This
I know this review is uncharacteristically late for a movie, with Spiderman: No Way Home having come out over two months ago, but there is no way I could pass up the chance to talk about the web-slinging crime fighter. In the same vein, this review is even more unique as I recognize how little of it I will be able to be impartial for. I am and always have been, a huge spiderman fan. It’s hard to keep track of how many animated series I watched growing up, and I haven’t missed a release of a studio film to date. Each time, even during the age of Tom Holland’s portrayal of the character, when I was far more grown-up, and far more cynical about film as a whole, I couldn’t help but love every moment New York’s best pizza delivery boy was on screen. I do have multiple reasons rooted far more in the analysis of the character in the plot, and I promise not to let them drown in me simply buzzing about the web-swinging hero’s last outing. So, if you’ll forgive the clear bias I’ll have during this review, I’d like to discuss what has become one of my favorite live-action Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home.
For starters, Tom Holland’s third entry has a major advantage over its predecessors right off the bat, not having to introduce the character or it’s villains to the audience as was done in Homecoming a hurdle the movie leaps gracefully and with much aplomb, and taking place in the city that’s so critical to who Spider-Man is, a hurdle that Far From Home admittedly stumbles on to some degree.
Tom Holland has truly grown into the role by this point, and in my mind only this installment of the trilogy achieves one of the characters most important aspects. Spider-Man is not just a protector of New-York City, in any iteration worth anything; he is a living petri dish of the vibrant, unique, and diverse city unlike any other in the world, born and bred. It’s very similar to the relationship between Batman and Gotham, except the city that hosts the Dark Knight was built from the ground up to suit him, and Spiderman was built from the ground up to suit New York, both to great effect. This results in an amazing relationship between the character and the home they seek to defend, because not only is it his home, but we constantly witness that it’s his home. Yes, Tony Stark lives part time in the tower for a bit, Captain America may or may not have an apartment in Brooklyn at one point, but they also live all over the country, and fight their battles all over the world. Yet Spider-Man across all of his installments, save for Far From Home, goes to school in New York, lives with his aunt in New York, goes to get lunch in New York. He works, eats, sleeps all in the same city, so when cars are thrown through buildings and bombs go off in the streets, that could be his school with a taxi smashing into it’s walls, the street he lives on blowing up. It effortlessly adds a weight and sense of responsibility in every conflict Spider-Man engages in, reflecting one of the major overall themes of his story. These aren’t just some random people he’s fighting for, he is one of them, and belongs to them.
The devotion to character and emotional investment in the arcs they follow the film displays is admirable, especially for one with such a huge cast to contend with. To avoid spoilers I can’t discuss every character here, but the villains and heroes are not only brilliantly cast and performed, but treated with respect, both acknowledging the consequences of any appearances they might’ve made in Spider-Man media, and treating them not as action figures, set and rigid, but instead as living, breathing people.
To round out my discussion of some of the best parts of the movie, I’ll discuss perhaps its strongest aspect, and although it’s a slight spoiler, it’s also the way Spider-Man in general tries to operate, especially in his Marvel outings. The idea of attempting not only to spare but rehabilitate a villain is incredible. I love it to pieces for reasons that I could explore in a paper long enough to pass as a capstone, but a paragraph will have to do. Continuing with the analogies to Batman stated previously, another core aspect of Spider-Man is his vow to never kill his opponents. Outside of the original trilogy with Toby McGuire, and even these exceptions have very significant narrative reasons that excuse them, every big-screen iteration of Spider-Man fits this. The understanding that he could kill without breaking a sweat, a teenager/young adult with the ability to level buildings and catch cars the way most people catch a basketball means that Peter Parker is always, always holding back. Not in the way of most superheroes with alter egos, but in every conflict, so as not to murder every enemy he engages with. The idea that those with strength are called upon to use it only for the betterment of others, to protect, and not to harm, not only makes for a character sending a powerful message about seeking alternate solutions, but also prevents some of the characters greatest struggles, and not only is this story no exception to the trend, but it is also one of the greatest examples. Showing the web slinger at perhaps his greatest, most forgiving, and most powerfully embodying the values of responsibility, hope, and the power of simply making the right choice, rather than relying on force, and then simultaneously pushed to every limit, tested in every way, and with the potential of making the worst mistakes, and failing and falling. Spider-Man is a living, breathing story about trauma and healing, covering sorrow with humor, and ultimately, a sense of perseverance and an enduring spirit, and this movie embodies that.
Now, for what it’s worth, and despite how lopsided this review is, I do understand that there is a lot holding this movie back. I will not deny the criticisms that it’s overstuffed, the sheer amount of material the movie tries to cover thoroughly resulting both in a longer runtime, and a rushing pace, with certain characters not receiving nearly enough time. It’s a huge film with a lot to do, moments where things are clearly forced for the plot rather than done with consequence or organic storytelling in mind. To be honest, the movie could’ve perhaps benefited from a few less characters, and a few less contrivances or things that occur just to move things along. However, ultimately, there’s absolutely no way you should miss this film. I don’t laud it so strongly because I think it’s flawless, but that the pleasure audiences can derive from it rises far above it’s flaws. I cannot recommend this enough to fans of Spider-Man, or moviegoers in general, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Spider Verse, or rather, Spiderverses.