‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ was a completely unexpected cinematic experience for me. The story picks up just moments after ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, and what unravels is more centered on the effects of being Spider-Man in Peter Parker’s life than it is a comic book movie. While the film is action-packed and filled with meta commentaries on second chances, it feels more like a coming-of-age teen drama that is set in a comic book world and our protagonist just happens to have superpowers. The first two movies (and Spider-Man’s involvement in other MCU movies) focused on what it meant to be Spider-Man, a friendly neighborhood web-slinger fighting crime and saving the world. And it also plays this off with him just being a high school kid.
In this film, Peter Parker’s life as a teenager takes center stage. At the end of ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, we see the reporter, J. Jonah Jameson, announcing Spider-Man’s identity and in this film, Peter has to contend with the fallout of this very public revelation.
Yes, there are super villains (we will get to that later) but the whole first act of the film and the crux of the conflict stems from how this revelation has affected Peter Parker (not Spider-Man) and the people around him – the people he loves. More than anything, we see how important MJ, Ned, and Aunt May are to Peter’s life. Yes, he’s a 17-year old kid who fought alongside Iron Man and Captain America and the rest of the Avengers but deep down inside, he’s just a kid. Director Jon Watts never lets us forget that – his youthful antics take on a deeper meaning – and it pushes us towards the incident and the cause of all this chaos.
Because in order to get his life back – because the movie shows us the real-world consequences of living a public life as a superhero and not having the finances that Tony Stark has; if anything the movie shows us how being poor sucks – he visits Dr. Strange and asks him to cast a spell to make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
But as seen in the trailer, Peter realises the wording has to be exact, messes up Dr. Strange’s spell causing a rift in the multiverse. Enter the villains: Spider-Man’s enemies from different universes come crashing into the MCU and Peter Parker has to clean up his own mess and deal with some very, very difficult grown-up decisions.
While the story revolves around a second chance – Peter Parker’s attempt at a second chance at anonymity leads to very dangerous consequences as well as a storyline involving the villains – this concept of “second chance” takes on a different meaning when looking at the film as a movie, a real-world product. Because, as the trailer has shown us, Alfred Molina reprises his role as Doctor Octopus and we all know Willem Dafoe returns as Green Goblin. Let me tell you, there’s more. But I’ll leave that to you to experience on your own.
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What is amazing about this is that we have actors given a chance to reimagine and play around with roles they played as far back as 17 years ago. The story in itself is compelling but sitting in the theater and watching an actor reprise a role he played in a movie set in a totally different reality and universe is just an incredible feeling. New things are explored with these old characters and there’s a feeling of something very new happening right before your eyes, while certain things remain frightfully the same.
The experience of watching this film brings out so many emotions. There are so many levels and layers to this idea of “second chances” that pervades throughout the movie – not just for Peter Parker – but for so many other characters as well. The human aspect of this film feels heavier and more grounded than any of the other Spider-Man films prior.
And while there is so much joy in the experience of watching this film, this story is also very heartbreaking as it really gives us an in-depth look of a teenager whose very life has been torn apart by his escapades as a super-powered crime-fighting vigilante. Unlike the older Avengers, Peter Parker is 17, thinking about college, living with his aunt, and not the most financially capable of the other of MCU’s mightiest heroes. His life was just about to start and it was taken away from him and he now has to make some very adult decisions when he still hasn’t even graduated from high school yet. This is the heart of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ that really gives this movie so much depth.
And this is even amplified by Tom Holland’s, Zendaya’s, Jacob Batalon, and Marissa Tomei’s performances as Peter, MJ, Ned, and Aunt May respectively.
The film ends in such a powerful way that can be seen either as a bittersweet conclusion to the MCU Spider-Man trilogy or the beginning of another completely new set of stories in a world full of infinite possibilities. This was such a wild ride and I’m glad I got to see it in the cinema.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now showing in cinemas nationwide.