Spider-Man: No Way Home is an extremely dense film to unpack with so many shifting parts to balance in order for it to work. Jon Watts achieves a purposeful equilibrium in the storytelling while executing what might be the most emotionally resonant MCU film to date.
The film directly follows Spider-Man: Far From Home following the reveal of Spider-Man’s identity. Peter Parker must learn the true meaning of being Spider-Man after a spell from Doctor Strange tears their world apart. There is a stark difference in the quality between Spider-Man: No Way Home and the previous MCU Spider-Man films as you could describe them as fluffy, easily digestible films. This film doesn’t feel designed to work in any capacity – simply just break it down. Formally introducing the multiverse concept whilst dealing with Spider-Man’s identity reveal and bringing in villains from past Spider-Man films while forwarding the journey of Peter Parker. Honestly, for all the nostalgia hype surrounding this film, it still felt designed to be the worst Spider-Man film and yet, it turns out to be one of the best.
It’s easy to declare ‘fan service’ but is it truly fan service if it feels purposeful to the story that is being told? The inclusion of villains from the past Spider-Man films dating back to 2002 may come across as if it is there to simply please faithful Spider-Man fans. Nope. The majority of the films’ thematics flow through these villains and are used as a tool to serve our protagonist in Spider-Man. Peter Parker has always felt tied down to Tony Stark whether that is through entire character arcs or villains, there is always a link. Spider-Man: No Way Home uses every element in its arsenal to further the character development of Peter Parker and allow him to finally become his own superhero.
This film is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and therefore, you usually shouldn’t expect legitimate stakes or consequences in any of their films unless it is an Avengers movie. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a mature MCU film and immediately establishes complicated consequences for its characters – there are some extremely serious moments in this. I do wonder just how truly emotionally poignant these moments would be if Tom Holland didn’t truly step up in this film. Tom Holland has always been a respectful version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man but with the added emotional weight of the screenplay, he elevates his game into a completely new level – a career best! It’s no secret but Willem Dafoe returns as Green Goblin and wow, you’d think he had been playing this role since Spider-Man (2002). He remains just as, if not, more menacing than beforehand and gets to explore that role on a deeper level. Alongside this, nearly all of the ensemble cast step up to this absolute juggernaut of a blockbuster.
Spider-Man: No Way Home takes the Spider-Man franchise to new heights from a visual standpoint. Mauro Fiore does a fantastic job with his cinematography in this film as this could easily be one of the best looking Spider-Man movies to date. Gorgeous shots such as Spider-Man swinging across power poles with a sunset backdrop and a close up shot of Spider-Man in torrential rain lit up majestically by neon lighting are easily the highlights of the film.was The CGI throughout the film mostly holds up such as Dr Strange’s acid trip fight sequence and the film’s final act; it does however often feels unpolished in certain scenes where the film could have benefited from had it been pushed out by a couple of months. The character who suffers the most due to the poor CGI is Lizard who somehow looks worse in this film than he did during The Amazing Spider-Man. Due to Covid-19 the actors had to adapt to innovative technology where they were scanned so that during post-production costuming and makeup could be added. Whatever this new innovative technology is, it certainly did a fantastic job as some of the blood and bruising work is amazing which I’m sure is assisted by actual makeup as it is able to capture the hell Spider-Man has gone through during this film, something the previous two films could not capitalise on.
Michael Giacchino was given the composing reins as he did for Spider-Man: Homecoming & Spider-Man: Far From Home. His score is instantly more impactful during this film than the previous two. The utilisation of musical pieces is well timed as throughout one of the films final fight sequences, he doesn’t let his score overpower the moment. A simple soft beat was played which only elevated the emotions throughout the fight. Another impactful moment of musical score was throughout the final act as Spider-Man is swinging into action, the score piece used during this scene amped up the intensity and stakes that the character had to overcome. Giacchino also hits the right amount of nostalgia with his score which is noticeable when the theme for Doc Ock plays which is enough to induce goosebumps.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is as dense of a blockbuster as they come but uses all the juggling balls to develop its titular hero. As a lifelong Spider-Man fan personally, I can happily announce that I have another Spider-Man to love and adore – I truly hope that we see more of this Spider-Man.