Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home - poster

After a pair of solid (but unspectacular) entries in the series it seemed that the current Spider-Man was in a position where his appearances in the big Avengers team up movies were going to be more memorable than his own films, which given the prominence of the character historically, felt like something of a shame – thankfully, the third entry in the current series of films about the web slinger, Spider-Man: No Way Home, has gone a long way to change that.

Picking up where Far From Home left off, with the world being made aware of the true identity of Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), thanks to the brilliantly reimagined Daily Bugle with an Alex Jones like J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) the first part of the film deals with Parker and friends trying to cope with their new found infamy, but then a visit to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) changes things.

Spider-Man No Way Home - Zendaya and Tom Holland
Zendaya and Holland

From this point it’s going to be hard to avoid spoilers so, be warned, there will likely be some as we go forward in this review.

From there a spell goes awry and we are thrown into the beginnings of what I can only describe as the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, as hinted at in Wandavision and Loki, as various characters from previous Spider-Man film franchises begin to appear from Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) to Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Electro (Jamie Foxx).

Spider-Man: No Way Home - Benedict Cumberbatch

This leads to a film that could easily become a confusing mess but, crucially, doesn’t, as it actually becomes far closer to the classic Spider-Man morality tale than this series has ever given us without losing the energy of the characters, including fine returns for Zendaya’s MJ and Jacob Batalon’s Ned who have been a strong part in making the previous films as enjoyable as they are.

Here’s where the real spoilers come in though as Foxx, Molina and particularly Defoe provide some real stand out moments reprising their past roles.

Dafoe particularly is terrific, seemingly landing right back in where he left off back in 2001 as the internal conflict between Norman Osbourne and the Green Goblin is brought back to the fore and we finally get to see a version of the character with Defoe’s face, rather than a big green helmet, and it’s just as terrifyingly maniacal as we’d all predicted it would be for the last twenty years (I still can’t fathom the choice to cover it up originally).

Spider-Man: No Way Home - Alfred Molina

Along with this we get the beginnings of a plot that looks set to be continued in the next Doctor Strange film, The Multiverse of Madness, with further hints and views of the spectacular powers of the sorcerer supreme.

And then it all goes up another level as two previous versions of Spider-Man himself appear (in the form of Andrew Garfield and Toney Maguire) before a classic Marvel action scene as the big denouement but laced through with a sense of fun and playfulness that has long been a trademark of the character.

Spider-Man: No Way Home - Willem Dafoe

Quite how director Jon Watts and his team wrangle all of this into not just a coherent film but a hugely enjoyable one I have no idea as, on paper, it feels like a mess waiting to happen but it finds a great balance of fun, seriousness and exhilaration that is just what you want from this kind of movie with Easter eggs aplenty thrown in for the eagle eyed.

Spider-Man: No Way Home then is not only a highlight of Spider-Man movies both new and old but one of the superior entries in the increasingly epic Marvel Cinematic Universe and while, in one way, it feels like something of a conclusion of this Spider-Man’s story I really hope it isn’t as just spending time with this version of Peter, Ned and MJ has become hugely enjoyable and all three clearly have plenty more to offer.

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