The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Multiverse Unlocks Ambition & Nostalgia in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”

PHOTO COURTESY/ YouTube Marvel Entertainment
PHOTO COURTESY/ YouTube Marvel Entertainment

After months of leaks leading up to the film, particularly concerning the possible return of Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and the forgettable Andrew Garfield, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has been released to scintillating box-office success. Some of the writing leaves a lot to be desired, holding it back from excellence, but the culmination of the “Home” trilogy and Peter Parker’s high school years starring Tom Holland is its best. It contains some of the best visual effects hitherto and manages to seamlessly fit in the villains from Sam Rami and Marc Webb’s films. It’s filled with some of the darkest moments in the MCU yet displays the lighthearted tenor thus far.

The film immediately follows the portentous events in “Far From Home.” Director Jon Watts continues his ambitious stories with Marvel’s icon after having the bulk of the previous film set outside of New York. “No Way Home” unmasks Spider-Man for the first time and manages an intriguing twist with the villains and their respective fates from the first two universes. The repercussions of being unmasked and framed for Mysterio’s death lead Peter Parker to seek Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for his and more importantly, his loved ones’ livelihoods. After the latter’s spell goes awry, the multiverse is unlocked. 

PHOTO COURTESY/ YouTube Marvel Entertainment

Out of the returning villains, Alfred Molina as Doc Ock from Raimi’s outstanding “Spider-Man 2” (2004) and Willem Dafoe from Raimi’s immensely successful, memorable first film, are predictably the best. Dafoe is still a genuinely menacing villain almost 20 years later. It importantly doesn’t feel like a cash-in. A vindicating buildup to an unforgettable final fight provides a long-awaited return to an old fan-favorite and redemption for a great talent whose association with the franchise was previously a misstep, leaving the audience talking for a long time. 

For all its grandiose spectacle, nostalgia, and fine individual performances, the film is let down by mediocre writing. Lines meant to elicit laughter fall flat too often, which especially limits Cumberbatch. When the scenario calls for it, the film does manage to have some of the funniest moments in the MCU. Questionable casting choices that were glaring in the previous two films put forth better performances the third time around. Holland has his best performance yet, providing particularly somber moments that make the audience care for and invest in his character. He still hasn’t hit the heights of Maguire’s portrayal in Raimi’s first two films, though. 

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