Friday, January 21, 2022

'Spider-Man: No Way Home': Marvel's final offering of 2021 slings quite the web

December 17, 2021
<p>&quot;Spider-Man: No Way Home&quot; illustration by Daena Faustino. </p>

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" illustration by Daena Faustino.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Proceed with caution.

I came back home five minutes ago. I watched “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Let’s talk about it.

This has spoilers. Please do not read this if you haven’t watched “Spider-Man.” Actually, don’t read this if you haven’t watched any shows/movies released during Marvel’s phase four. 

I wouldn’t want this experience ruined for me. I wouldn’t do it to you. 

Let’s begin. 

This was a perfect movie. It doesn’t have flaws. Perhaps, the best Spider-Man movie ever. Better than “Into the Spider-Verse?” Maybe. The best Marvel movie? It’s definitely in my top three. 

“No Way Home” wrapped Tom Holland’s trilogy up perfectly. The characterization of Parker was true to the character beloved in the comics. It was emotional. It was grueling. 

But, the film is also an origin story. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. 

A popular criticism of the MCU’s Spider-Man was his dependence on Tony Stark, who is arguably his Uncle Ben. However, Parker is a kid. Kids depend on people. 

Rather, the issue was Parker being depicted as a teenager. In the comics, he’s only a high-schooler for 30 issues. It didn’t feel like Spider-Man. So, I never deeply aligned with any Spider-Man trilogy, he’s always in high school. 

Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man has always been my favorite though. 

“No Way Home” changed that for me. Holland’s Spider-Man is the best on-screen Spider-Man. Likewise, his trilogy. The prior critiques I had for the previous films are placed in a different light. I have a new appreciation for them. 

The film begins where “Far from Home” ended. Parker's identity has been revealed, he’s being investigated. Ned and MJ are, obviously, guilty by association. Oh, and the whole world hates Parker — courtesy of Mysterio and the lovely J. Jonah Jameson. 

However, Parker and his friends are let off the hook because… DAREDEVIL (I say as I slyly look at the pile of Daredevil comics on my table).  

Now, I will delve into a brief conversation about Daredevil. I promise, it will be brief.

With the recent reveal of  Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin as the “big bad” in “Hawkeye” and Murdock’s cameo in “No Way Home,” I theorize Marvel will be bringing its non-Disney Plus shows into the MCU canon. Marvel’s Netflix shows like “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and even ABC’s “Agents of Shield” will be part of the MCU, by means of the multiverse or some other explanation. 

This is a theory. But, we don’t know what’s coming. Anything goes. And Murdock’s appearance is a glimpse of this. I hope for a Hawkeye/Daredevil team-up (and Spider-Man/Daredevil, granted this would happen later). 

Anyway, Parker, Ned and MJ are rejected from MIT. So, Parker goes to Doctor Strange for help. He uses a memory spell. It makes people forget. Parker wants people to forget his identity. It goes wrong because Parker's continuous changes to the spell destabilize it. 

He goes to the Alexander Hamilton Bridge to convince MIT’s Vice Chancellor to accept Ned and MJ's applications. But, the bridge is attacked by Doctor Octopus. Here, we also see Green Goblin’s bombs. Doc Oc is held in the Santorum, so is the Lizard. 

Alfred Molina did his thing. And of course, he did it right. It was nostalgic. But, it was refreshing. I enjoyed every moment he was on screen. 

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Because of the botched spell, Strange explains people (who know Parker is Spider-Man) are being brought from the multiverse into their world. Parker, MJ and Ned begin capturing these visitors, including Electro, Sandman and Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) 

While retrieving Norman from the F.E.A.S.T. building where Aunt May works, Parker realizes these “villains” need help. He decides to take Aunt May’s advice and cure them, preventing their fated deaths. 

Strange and Parker fight. Strange wants to send them back. Parker frees them and traps Strange in the Mirror Dimension. He takes them to Happy’s apartment. 

Parker cures Octavius by using Stark Industries technology to replace his broken inhibitor chip. Cures are also developed for Osborn and Electro. But, the Green Goblin takes over Osborn. 

The Green Goblin, Electro and the other two escape after a battle against Parker and Doc Oc. 

Aunt May dies in this battle. Not without giving Parker some words of wisdom, ”With great power comes great responsibility.”  

It was painful. This is the deepest wound ever inflicted on Parker. His mother figure died, and in Parker fashion, he blamed himself. He is broken, consumed with rage, ready to kill.

Parker’s story has always been one of loss, love, sacrifice and triumph. That is the Spider-Man I love. 

Ned can do magic. It was theorized Ned would be the sixth member of the Sinister Six, playing Hobgoblin. I’m relieved they didn’t do this because this was a phenomenal moment. Through Ned’s portal, he and MJ search for Parker. 

Instead, they retrieve two other Spider-Men: Maguire and Andrew Garfield. This was beautiful. I was in awe. The first interaction between Maguire and Garfield was a web-shoot competition type-thing. I ate it up. 

Ned and MJ find their Parker. There, Parker is introduced to the other Spider-Men, who share their stories of losing loved ones. They talk to Parker, encouraging him to fight. 

The interactions between the three Spider-Men were grounding. It wasn’t a pep-talk. It was brotherly. Their relationship was a highlight of the film. 

The Spider-Men plan to cure the remaining villains and lure them to the Statue of Liberty. 

Ned and MJ protect the original bind spell by Strange as the Spider-Men battle their enemies together. Parker leads the two Spider-Men. When they were struggling in battle, he devised a coordinated attack against the villains. 

Parker’s time with the Avengers and Stark have led to this moment. He’s learned how to fight, how to strategize. He’s learned how to be a team player. Now, a leader emerges. 

This is why Parker’s dependence on Stark was important. As I said, kids depend on people. This is until they learn to depend on themselves. 

The Spider-Men are later joined by Octavius, and they manage to cure Electro, Sandman and the Lizard.

Electro references a Black Spider-Man — MCU Miles Morales confirmed? Please, I’m begging. 

Garfield’s Spider-Man saves MJ from a date similar to Gwen Stacy. This was a heart-wrenching, full-circle moment. In his eyes, this is his redemption. 

Ned, then, accidentally frees Strange from the Mirror Dimension. Strange seizes control of the spell and begins protecting the universe’s barriers as they begin to tear open.

Meanwhile, Parker fights Goblin, almost killing him. He’s stopped by Maguire’s Spider-Man, from the Goblin's universe. Goblin stabs him (this was scary). Parker injects the Goblin with the cure, who reverts back to Osborne. 

The two Spider-Men killed, but they couldn’t let Parker do it. 

Parker asks Strange to fix the spell, sending the two Spider-Men and their villains back to their universes. But, everyone will forget Parker's existence. Before this happens, Parker and MJ kiss.

Later, Parker tries to reintroduce himself to MJ and Ned. He can’t. They got into MIT. Parker wants his friends to be happy. He made a sacrifice. 

Parker visits May's grave and meets Happy, now a stranger. He creates a new suit from scratch and continues being Spider-Man.

A spectacular end and great beginning. 

I hope we see Holland back as Spider-Man, tangled in his own battles, apart from the Avengers. Maybe, a mentor figure. Maybe, an occasional partner to Daredevil. 

The best part of "Now Way Home" is its character-driven story. We see Parker, we come to know him. He comes to know himself. Every moment in the previous two films was strategic, purposeful. Let's face it, this is the beginning of something new, something better.

Regarding MJ, she was a catalyst in this film. Parker had to do better for her. MJ grounded him, pushed him towards being the man Aunt May wanted him to be. We see her connection to Parker in ways never before and she wasn't a plot device. MJ was something more.

Onto the end-credits.

First, Venom. I love Venom. He’s so fun and fresh. 

Remember, of the Sinister Six, only five villains were present. Maybe, Venom was meant to be the other one. Instead, he was busy vacationing. I enjoy this explanation. 

As for the symbiote he leaves behind and the upcoming "Morbius" film set in Parker's universe, Sony seems to be developing an incredible list of villains for its Spider-Verse.

Maybe, we'll see Garfield and Maguire again. I don't doubt it.

Second, the “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness” teaser. Strange is my favorite Marvel hero. I hope his character is fleshed out. Although his first film is my favorite MCU movie, his characterization is scattered. 

In addition, Wanda is heavily present in the teaser. 

I present another theory: The multiverse was already broken. “X-Men” series’ Pietro Maximoff was trapped in the MCU’s universe. He couldn’t go back and is in witness protection. Strange’s spell didn’t work for him. Hence, the “Multiverse of Madness.”

Wanda, Strange and Loki/Sylvie weakened an already broken multiverse. What broke it? That remains to be seen. 

The Strange variant revealed at the teaser’s end is also eerily similar to the Strange variant in fourth episode of “What If…?” Hmmm... I wonder how the show fits into the MCU. We don't know yet.

I urge you to watch “No Way Home.” Regardless, if you’re a Marvel fan. This film has something for everyone. At its heart, it’s a coming-of-age story of a hero who wants to do better. 

“This is what we do. We help people.”

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