Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) Cover

Marvel finally made a movie that's 100% secret so no one can talk about it. Like, for real, the spoiler material is present from the very beginning, so there just really isn't much to say. It's disappointing because there's so much here that's really worth talking about. Is the film any good? It's great. At least, it's a lot of fun. I certainly enjoyed the experience beginning to end and came away with a lot of feels and things to think about.

It's a unique film in that it very much builds everything it has on top of a bunch of other movies. The closest thing I can compare it to is Avengers: Endgame, but just for Spider-Man movies. The end result is a movie that is able to create meaning that would otherwise be impossible... deep catharsis covering decades of storytelling across multiple creators and artists, deep laughs from the industry that has created this fractured tonal experience for the character, and inversions of tropes that in many ways began with the origins of Spider-Man as a character.

Like, No Way Home is nuts. This is the best movie that needs decades of backstory to get to that I've ever seen. But... is that good? I don't know. It feels like there are plenty of jokes that land and enough exposition to work without that foundation, but, I don't know. I certainly can't imagine the same. It definitely can't land as well without all of that. And, is that an experience that people new to this character can appreciate?

At least Spider-Man is the most well-known superhero in the world, so there's a wide and deep audience to draw from. These movies have been core to the Marvel brand across multiple reboots, even as presented by Sony, and laid the foundation for comic book movies as a genre that can survive, so, I think it matters less here than it would for other characters.

But even jumping back from the question of whether or not No Way Home will work for people who aren't familiar with the character's history, No Way Home is a manic pixie dream girl of a movie. Tonally it's all over the place. It ping-pongs back and forth between serious and emotional beats and jokes. This didn't stop the humor or emotional moments from landing. I laughed and even almost cried (for real, and maybe not for the parts that you might think when you watch it), but I just can't help but feel like they crammed way too much in a space that's too small.

As a result of this, so much is happening that it's almost impossible to tell if all of the story points even make sense. There are so many cogs here, like lots and lots of speaking parts in addition to all of the plot threads that need to be woven together, and on just one viewing I honestly am not sure they wrapped everything up quite tightly enough. But, the film manages to maintain an emotional continuity so that the bumps in storytelling detract very little on first viewing.

Overall, this may be the very best live-action Spider-Man movie and it's a must-watch. Catch it if you can.

Final Verdict:An outstanding entry in the franchise if not the most rewarding Spider-Man film and a must watch.