TL;DR – The world knows Peter Parker is Spider-man, and he turns to Dr Strange for a spell that will make everyone forget Spidey’s true identity. When the spell gets messed up, the universe opens up to parallel dimensions. Dimensions where villains in other Spidey worlds come to pay Peter a visit. Get ready for the most epic Spider-man yet. Strap in and hold on to that bucket of popcorn.
Review (warning: spoilers)
It’s a tough gig being your friendly neighbourhood Spider-man. Especially when J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons) outs Spidey’s secret identity on every big screen billboard in New York city revealing the kid behind the mask is Peter Parker (Tom Holland). When Tony Stark revealed that he was Iron Man, he had enough security guards and technology to ensure he could maintain his privacy (it also helped that he owned the entire building, Stark Tower, where he lived in the penthouse). No such luck for Peter who just wants to spend time with his girlfriend, MJ (Zendaya) and his best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon). High school is tough enough without every other kid pulling out their phones and wanting to take selfies or videos as you walk down the hallway to class.
The opening scenes of Spider-man: No Way Home are frenetic as we watch Peter web-sling his way through the city with MJ clinging to him for dear life while trying to avoid the media helicopters and public scrutiny. If you have not seen the previous Spidey film, Spider-man: Far From Home, it is advisable to at least read the synopsis so you get the gist of the commotion you’ll see at the start of No Way Home. The controversy around Peter’s encounter with Mysterio in Far From Home has been spun by Jameson’s Daily Bugle news broadcast and now questions surround Peter’s actions, which lead to an interrogation by the Department of Damage Control. Even when lawyer, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) aka Daredevil, manages to get the charges dropped, Jameson continues on his crusade to eviscerate Spider-man.
The pressure becomes all too much, and Peter turns to Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help. You know things will go sideways when you use magic to solve your problems, so when Dr Strange attempts a spell to make everyone forget Spider-man’s real identity (except those who are closest to Peter), what happens instead is the spell rips a hole into the multi-verse.
For those who have seen the excellent animated film Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse then they will be familiar with the idea of parallel dimensions. The multi-verse allows for alternate timelines to occur where different Peter Parkers exist and live lives that are based on the different decisions they make. When villains in other Spider-man films start appearing in this one, you can’t help but be giddy if you’re a comic book fan. When alternate Spider-men appear and you see it’s all the original cast (i.e. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), fans will achieve comic geek euphoria (and even if you’re not a comic book fan, if you enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ll be applauding anyway).
What follows is a surprisingly emotional wrung film that sees three Spideys try to stop all the villains by attempting to alter things that would turn them into villains in the first place. This could have been a big bash up where fists do all the talking, and there is plenty of action in the film, but what elevates it above basic action flicks is that the villains are able to change (or at least, some of them are able to) with the help of the three Peters. The villains are tortured souls and their transformations are key to the emotional drive.
And then there’s Aunt May getting killed. If that doesn’t sting your eyes, then nothing will.
Overall, Spider-man: No Way Home is a blockbuster film that will open up infinite possibilities for new stories in the MCU. Director Jon Watts has managed to tell a story that could have tied itself into time paradox knots, but instead is cohesive and thrilling and will have you downing the popcorn and cheering our friendly neighbourhood Spider-man on for more. Spidey fans rejoice!
Now can someone please, PLEASE make a Spider-Gwen movie?
10 out of 10