Popcorn Picks: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a film of epic proportions


Tom Holland returns as the iconic teenage web-slinger in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”


After a two and a half year long wait, Marvel fans were finally able to see “Spider-Man: No Way Home” on December 17 and learn the truths behind the various internet rumors regarding the plot of the movie.

The movie picks up where 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” ended: with Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) secret identity being exposed as the villain Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) frames him for murder. Now not only does Peter have to worry about his college applications and starting his senior year of high school, he has to get his name cleared and protect his loved ones from getting pulled into this mess.

When it all gets to be too much, he seeks out the help of sorcerer Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in hopes that he can cast a spell that can remove the knowledge of Peter’s alter ego from everyone. However, the spell backfires and Dr. Strange ends up bringing in people from other universes who know Spider-Man’s real name.

“No Way Home” pulls from various Spider-Man comic book plots in the past, from the more renowned to even one of the most infamous story arcs for the web-slinger, and yet it finds a way to tell a cohesive story.

The idea of a multiverse has been popping up in some of Marvel’s most recent projects. The concept is that there are numerous alternate universes that lead to different versions of everyone on Earth. This fits nicely with the fact that there have been three different versions of Spider-Man played by three actors on the big screen: Tobey Maguire (2002-2007), Andrew Garfield (2012-2014) and Tom Holland (2016-present).

For fans, the three Spider-Men coming together has been an idea for years. Furthermore, for past generations who grew up on both Peter Parkers, seeing them return alongside Tom Holland was absolutely exhilarating – various videos have gone viral of theaters erupting into applause as Garfield was revealed.

The opening of this multiverse led to actors such as Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx returning to their iconic villain roles of the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus and Electro, respectively. Willem Dafoe’s performance stood out as being even more frightening than he was almost 20 years ago when he first played Green Goblin. He even adds to Holland’s Spider-Man’s conflict in this movie by killing his legal guardian, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

With this many characters and villains, sadly some were pushed to the side, mainly Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans). Sandman’s story arc didn’t feel coherent at all. In between the second and third acts, Sandman goes from being willing to work with the heroes to turning against them for barely any reason. As for the Lizard, he was simply pushed into the background, not really contributing to the story and barely having any screen time. Despite this decision, and the fact that both Thomas Haden Church and Rhys Ifans weren’t physically onset due to COVID, the two actors and the crew did their best with what they had in terms of bringing the two characters back.

The best performance of the movie came from Andrew Garfield. Due to Dr. Strange’s spell backfiring, all three versions of Spider-Man were now in the same universe and they teamed up together to fight off -and then fix- the villains they had all fought before. Garfield overpowered Holland in his own movie and it was clear he was excited to be back after his portrayal of Spider-Man only got two films instead of three.

For the mid-credit scene,Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, who was pulled in at the end of “Venom: Let There be Carnage,” is in a bar being recapped on the events of the MCU. He plans on going to New York to talk to Spider-Man when he is pulled back to his universe. This was a questionable decision – it seemed as if Tom Hardy’s Venom was going to fight Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, but instead he was only in the MCU for a brief cameo. Recent reports say that this was because of a few deleted scenes in the final act where Venom was going to play a more major role.

However, as Eddie returns to Sony’s cinematic universe, it’s revealed that he left a tiny piece of Symbiote behind, potentially setting up a black suit arc for Tom Holland, where Spider-Man would have the Venom symbiote and go down a dark path thanks to the symbiote enhancing his aggression until he finally removes the suit, and it finds it’s new host- who will be the MCU’s version of Venom.

This cameo is disappointing, as Marvel/Sony wasted the perfect opportunity for a cinematic Sinister Six with Venom being the sixth villain. Hopefully this scene sets up a potential plot for Venom 3, with Eddie going to New York and meeting his universe’s Spider-Man. It could possibly even be Andrew Garfield, and he could be Sony’s Spider-Man going forward.

However, now that it’s known that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire make an appearance in this movie, it may be very hard to watch and enjoy this movie again. The excitement for this movie was nothing like Marvel fans have experienced before and the will-they-won’t-they rumors of the return of Maguire and Garfield made it even more exciting – perhaps more so than the hype around “Avengers: Endgame” just two years ago.

The feeling that nothing was truly off the table with this movie was one of the major reasons for fans’ excitement. However, it really is an overly complicated movie. The concept of different universes seems like it was only introduced into the MCU for the Spider-Man meet up to happen. Now what are they going to do?

“Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” is set to be released in May, but it seems as if Dr. Strange will be resolving the issue that appeared in only a handful of Marvel projects.

As awesome as it was to see Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) from Netflix’s “Daredevil” as Peter’s lawyer, he served no purpose other than to make the fans happy and to possibly set up future projects, something the MCU often indulges on.

Although this movie was so much fun to watch, brought us the return of some great villains, showcased some of Willem Dafoe’s best work and created a Andrew Garfield Renaissance, it is not the best MCU Spider-Man movie. It will be very exciting to see where they take Peter next, but it felt as if this movie did nothing for the future of the MCU, since everything that happened before in the timeline regarding Spider-Man now seems irrelevant.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” tips its hat to the movies and universes that came before while concluding Tom Holland’s six-movie-long origin story, sending him on the path of becoming a true, cinematic Spider-Man like the others before him, who may possibly- and hopefully- wear their masks again on the big screen.

Rating: Ellen: 8/10 kernels

Rating: Carter: 9/10 kernels

Contact the writers: [email protected], [email protected]
Twitter: @EllenFrantzTWW