December 13, 2021

CINEMA | 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Crosses Over

"Everything Spider-Man touches turns to ruin."
Tom Holland Zendaya Jon Watts | Marvel's Spider-Man: No Way Home
Sony Pictures / Marvel Studios
Tom Holland, plucky as ever, returns for his third solo superhero effort in the Marvel Studios produced Spider-Man: No Way Home spanning not only its existing MCU continuity but also, the entirety of the webhead's live-action filmography from different Spider-Verses. How the over-crowded but crowd-pleasing action and emotional stakes of Spider-Man's iconography as our teenage webslinger pays off spectacularly in one of the most entertaining examples of blatant fan service of a franchise intellectual property.

In Homecoming, our fresh-faced Peter Parker leaves the school dance to prevent his date's criminal father from stealing Avengers property. In No Way Home, three-time director Jon Watts combines separate universes from different, previously standalone, Spider-Man continuities with five different villains trying to defeat our friendly neighbourhood superhero. It's both dizzying and exhilarating yet grounded by Holland and Zendaya's very sweet teenage romance at its core with Jacob Batalon as another essential comic relief sidekick.

This time, Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange serves the surrogate father role in a key appearance that bends timelines and universes in setting off a multiverse crossover battle sparked by Spidey's secret identity being revealed by J.K. Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson at the tail end of Far From Home. No Way Home manages to really invest and give fitting send-offs to many of the supporting characters and their multi-film arcs full of recurring in-jokes despite a rushed storyline suggesting villainous motives can be "cured" by science.

Tom Holland Jon Watts | Marvel's Spider-Man: No Way Home

Almost every notable villain from the rogues' gallery of previous Spider-Man universes not limited to Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans) from both the original Sam Raimi trilogy and two Amazing films by Marc Webb. It's an interesting choice to combine multiple continuities within an already existing shared universe while mining the webhead's famous comic book iconography.

Scripted by regular Marvel screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, the film has so much jam-packed action in its third entry reminiscent of the overstuffed Spider-Man 3 yet a lot of it works thanks to our already established familiarity with many of the iconic characters already previously introduced. There's a surprising amount of scenes where very famous characters played by notable actors just sit and talk about the craziness going on scattered with plenty of the MCU's trademark jokes.

Spider-Man: No Way Home does the near-impossible in remixing our entire cinematic history of the webcrawler from before the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the present. It even course corrects previous entries' failings and somehow solves the problem of villain overload to pay off multiverses of superhero action. For a naked piece of franchise synergy and shameless crowd-pleasing entertainment, it really hits the spot.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Polygon / ScreenCrush

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