The making of the second third Spider-Man movie seemed more chaotic than usual. There’s been so many leaks about this movie before press screenings even happened. Neither they nor the trailers have gotten me enthused about seeing this. Why do we need this when Into The Spider-Verse already exists? (Across The Spider-Verse looks keen! Is Hailee Steinfeld getting typecast?)
“Mom, we want Spider-Man: No Way Home!”
“We already have Spider-Man at home.”
No Way Home at home is Into The Spider-Verse. There is much rejoicing.
One downside to superhero movies finally catching on with the public is that The ‘Net is determined to spoil anything that may bring firsthand joy. Legions of Spider-Fans have been extra rabid about this one. So The Wages Of Cinema SPOILS this movie for you to perpetuate the web of abuse.
It vexes me that this comes out the same day as Nightmare Alley. It’s dueling Dafoe weekend. I fear this will be even worse for Guillermo Del Toro’s box office than when Hellboy 2 was released only a week before The Dark Knight. In ye olden days I would’ve bought a ticket for NA & found an empty seat for Spidey, but that’s not possible in the assigned seating world we now inhabit. AMC giving out NFT’s along with SMNWH tickets should prove they have no value.
Jon Watts is the first director helm a complete MCU trilogy. The naming order of this series sounds reversed. Regardless of whether it matches each film’s contents, it’d make more sense to start with No Way Home then Far From Home to culminate in Homecoming. Please stop putting Home in the next trilogy’s titles.
The movie picks up with the consequences of Peter Parker being doxed. He & his supporting cast are arrested by what what seems to be a branch of the US government,
SHIELD SWORD Department Of Damage Control (Weren’t they just private contractors in Homecoming?), for European crimes. Talos & Nick Fury refuse to help exonerate him from the mess they entangled him in. Peter’s legal turmoil abruptly & unsatisfyingly evaporate once Matt Murdock declares the charges are flimsy to his client & catches a brick because he’s a very good lawyer. This seems way too easy, as if the authorities just popped in a Blu-Ray of Far From Home to agree with audiences after making a big hullabaloo of arrests. This confusing international incident should result in a huge trial. They don’t even explain whether the Sokovia Accords cover minors. It’s very much like glazing over the global trauma of The Snappening in favor of a vacation romp.
When MIT declines admission to MJ & Ned because of their association with suspected terrorist Peter, he asks Doctor Strange for help. (Wong got promoted to Sorcerer Supreme while he was dusted yet still needs to side hustle in Macau fight clubs to afford tuna melts. Pay wizards fair wages!) Peter ruins Strange’s spell to make the world forget about his alter ego by asking for numerous exemtions. Strange could’ve told Peter how the spell works before he started casting it, but Peter could’ve just tell the handful of people he wants to know he’s Spider-Man afterwards since most found out accidentally the first time. For some reason messing up the spell that seemed unrelated to anything multiversal draws in characters from Sony’s earlier Spidey films. Strange said it wouldn’t involve time travel since he no longer has The Time Stone, yet the spell also yoinks them over from a variety of moments.
Strange is justifiably pissed at Peter for making a magic mess, especially after he finds out that he didn’t even try appealing to the MIT dean of admissions first. Luckily they can teleport all the interdimensional supervillains (Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Sandman, Lizard, & Electro) to the Sanctum Sanctorum’s dungeon to minimize damage & then send them all back home by cancelling the spell. Instead of relief that there’s a relatively simple way to stop things from getting worse, Peter decides he needs to cure the supervillains of their superpowers to prevent them from dying in their own movies. Sandman & Lizard, still voiced by Rhys Ifans & Thomas Hayden Church as mostly CGI monsters, didn’t even die. Peter Parker keeps foolishly exacerbating his problems!
If No Way Home’s Dr. Octopus is really supposed to be the same one from Spider-Man 2, why is he wearing a shirt? Give us back his octo-tiddies, you cowards! His wonderfully puppeteered tentacles have been replaced by CGI that are way too long to match. He doesn’t attempt to make his outfit more comics accurate. The ever delightful Alfred Molina is uncle to 2/3 Peter Parkers.
Willem Dafoe returns beneath the Green Goblin mask of his own face that he quickly smashes. He later adds a tattered purple hood that doesn’t match his high-tech body armor. If they’re not going to attempt to adapt the classic costume (look to Stargirl’s Eclipso for pointers), this addition is just half-assed. Why didn’t they try to do that animatronic mask that was rejected for being too awesome? Regardless, I’m overjoyed Dafoe remains committed to doing his own stunts while devouring scenery.
Electro’s design is improved from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, not that that’s saying much. Jaimie Foxx no longer resembles modest Dr. Manhattan because the MCU has different voltage. He briefly manifests an electrical starfish mask, but otherwise his new suit appears to be more of the industrial ugly aesthetic with no theme.
Since there’s only five of them, this doesn’t boast the first cinematic Sinister Six. This Fearsome Five doesn’t even work together as a team. Some want to be cured, some want more power, & some want to return to their home dimension. Having already accomplished his goal of monsterizing himself, the unusually chatty Lizard doesn’t seem to want anything. Giving them individual goals humanizes them but they don’t coalesce into a unified threat. Dr. Octopus & GG remain the standouts while Electro, Sandman, & Lizard aren’t afforded equally engaging moments. If you have no attachment to the earlier films, those three could’ve been replaced by any villains without making a difference. Now Paul Giamatti’s Rhino would’ve left an impression!
Spidey is at his best when he has a personal connection to his foes. Even though MCU Vulture & Mysterio felt like their real archnemesis was Iron Man, their interactions with Peter Parker were compelling. MCU Peter doesn’t have any relationships with the villains pored in from the earlier Sony movies. He doesn’t even know their MCU variants. Using them to rush a Sinister Six is hollow rather than developing new versions of these characters that’d have meaning for this iteration of Spidey. The end of TASM2 was criticized for teasing Sinister Six too soon (I liked the idea of a Sinister Six movie to introduce them before the third installment though.), but people are okay with this nostalgia wank equivalent?
The MCU could’ve just as easily made a homebrew team from Vulture, Shocker, Scorpion, Prowler (Aaron Davis getting revenge for his melted ice cream), Mysterio (whom definitely faked his death), & one new foe for the third installment. (One slot could be filled by The Tinkerer, but I consider him more tech support than a full fledged teammate.) Or the last member could be JJ Jameson piloting a Spider-Slayer. Apparently they’re planning a second MCU Spidey trilogy so they didn’t even need a multiversal shortcut to squeeze in previously adapted foes. (That nixes the fan theory that it’d end with MCU Spidey being exiled to Sony’s Spider-Man Minus Spider-Man universe.)
We were robbed of Michael Mando’s Mac Gargan as Scorpion! He’s got a mechanical appendage like Dr. Ock, Double G’s coloration, & connections to Triple J. We don’t get introduced to anybody from the cancelled Spider-Man 4 & TASM 3 either. I hoped we’d finally see Bruce Campbell as Mysterio! Dylan Baker’s Lizard, John Malkovich’s Vulture, & Shailene Woodley’s Mary Jane Watson could’ve be fun cameos. They could’ve done a cat fight between Anne Hathaway & Felicity Jones as Black Cats! Why didn’t the spell also draw in Mary Jane, original Venom, George Stacy, Gwen Stacy, & two Harry Osborns? Nobody asked Nicholas Hammond about doing a cameo. Supaidāman the emissary from Hell is also absent. Where’s Turkish Spider-Man? This could’ve been Crisis Of Infinite Spider-Men! Did Mobius prune them already?
Aunt May inspires Peter to one-up his cinematic predecessors by changing the fates of their foes. Returning these displaced individuals is his responsibility, not fixing them. The hubris! Luckily Happy Hogan’s condo contains a Stark fabricator that can just churn out whatever science thing he needs. When that gets wrecked, a high school lab has equivalent resources. I know the MCU has advanced technology, but this is absurdly convenient. Parker can whip up cures for five complex yet diverse conditions in about twelve hours. It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience. So if the MCU ever does get around to doing unique takes on Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Lizard, & Electro, Spidey should already know how to vanquish them. (He’s also able to defeat Dr. Strange in mystic battle because he’s the title character.)
Treacherous Green Goblin fridges Aunt May so now Peter is a double orphan. It’s about time Norman got to kill one of Peter’s loved ones in the movies, but this May was finally starting to have a purpose beyond objectification. Before she dies, May tells Peter “With Great power comes great responsibility.” Did Peter honestly not know this before? I thought it & Uncle Ben were just backstory they skipped over, but it takes his sixth MCU appearance to learn his central ethos? Did he not have an inciting tragedy beforehand? (A brief moment of Spidey wearing the Cloak Of Levitation references his “What If…?” episode, just not the part where they acknowledge Ben Parker’s existence.) Uncle Ben inadvertently died because Peter selfishly wouldn’t help a stranger, whereas Aunt May directly dies because Peter altruistically tries to help a stranger. The new moral doesn’t sound as heroic.
The first two MCU Spidey films were about him trying to get out from under Iron Man’s shadow, so the trilogy’s conclusion is directly comparing him to two previous cinematic Spideys? Tobey Maguire & Andrew Garfield being in this was the movie’s worst kept secret. It actually became a huge marketing draw for people aside from me. (Along with Charlie Cox, they deserve kudos for not breaking their NDAs despite interviews for unrelated projects hounding them about whether they’re in this.) If you want to hear applause at a shared cinema experience, this movie’s for you. Once they were together with Tom Holland, I did love the warm banter betwixt the Spideys. Unlike Loki (& Crisis On Infinite Earths), variant Spider-Men aren’t innately recognized as being counterparts of each other.
Tobey Maguire reprising Spider-Man felt very cozy. I’ve missed organic shooters. I never saw TASM2 after being displeased with the first installment & its lead. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Andrew Garfield here. The metacommentary of him being disappointed in himself helps make him endearing. If only he’d gotten good scripts & direction for his duology. He gets a redemption from failing to save Gwen Stacy by catching MJ. Dropping Peter Parker’s girlfriends is a multiversal constant.
A pumpkin bomb blows up the magic thingymabob, so even more of the multiverse begins cracking open. MCU Spidey tells Strange to counteract this by casting a new spell that makes everyone forget about Peter Parker. It works. Then he refuses to reintroduce himself to MJ, Ned, & Dr. Strange at The Statue Of Liberty. (The ill-advised plan to give it Captain America’s shield was wrecked during the climax, so Jameson can rightly continue warning the public Spidey’s a menace. There’s a pop-up The Daily Bugle in NYC despite it not being a newspaper in the MCU.) Since the original spell rippled across the multiverse, does this mean everybody forgot about Peter Parker in the other two Spidey’s worlds as well?
Peter decides not to tell MJ & Ned about himself when he sees how happy they are to have gotten into MIT. Rather than return to high school, he’s earning his GED in a new apartment. The movie frames his isolation as a noble sacrifice, but it also seems like a comeuppance for him tampering with forces beyond his comprehension. It’s a huge downer ending that he could’ve avoided by getting out of his own way. He brought this misery upon himself!
Peter’s MCU supporting cast, especially Zendaya’s MJ, has been a charming addition to his mythos. That makes losing them sting. Will they commit to cutting them out of his life? Or will they once again backtrack the consequences?
It’s unclear whether the final spell just erased personal memories or physical records of Peter Parker as well. Did he lose his legal personhood status too? Do assorted government agencies & news outlets still have his alter ego on file? Will MJ & Ned be spooked to find old texts from a dude neither remembers? There is a display case devoted to his dual life at his high school. When people watch new Spidey clips on YouTube, won’t its algorithm recommend them “Spider-Man Unmasked As Peter Parker!” next? Does the spell have to keep everybody from making new memories of Peter Parker lest the multiversal barriers crumble?
Curing Norman Osborn & Otto Octavius creates pardoxes that’d mess up Sam Raimi’s trilogy. (Curt Connors already got cured in his film so TASM transpires the same anyway.) If Norman isn’t impaled by his glider, will Harry not go down a path of vengeance that also ensnares Octavius? Or does he still get impaled but as a sane & depowered man, which makes it much worse. Depending upon when Doc Ock gets returned, does it avoid the events that lead Mary Jane to discovering Peter’s secret identity? Does repairing Otto’s chip even matter since he decided to sacrifice himself even when it was busted? Did Osborn & Octavius get returned within their respective movies or did they disappear & get dumped out at the end of Spider-Man 3 along with Sandman?
Peter Parker’s enduring popularity stems with grounding his superhero antics with relatable problems. The resolution combines magic, the multiverse, time travel, & memory wipes. It’s like someone dared writers Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers to make it more incomprehensible than The Flash in a single installment rather than eight seasons. This may be more amusing than One More Day or One Moment In Time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not catastrophically convoluted.
Three of Peter’s new threads are unremarkable. The fourth is a shiny Spidey suit that finally looks as classic as his predecessors. Unfortunately it’s only for a quick epilogue. I should be excited about seeing it in the next trilogy, but I also fear it’ll be replaced after the first scene to make way for lackluster variants to make toys of.
This was a missed opportunity for the return of both Charlie Cox & Ben Affleck as Daredevil. We were robbed of a scene of Jon Favreau playing Happy Hogan & Foggy Nelson. Only the sidekicks with the dumbest nicknames for that man!
Venom actor spoils his return. Now there’s a dude living the hater lifestyle! Oh, they gave us Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock instead in a stinger that’s more confusing than amusing. It either doesn’t matter or is a shortcut to getting the symbiote into the MCU. I honestly would’ve preferred Topher Grace’s underrated Venom getting to redeem himself in the public’s eye, but I guess they don’t want to upstage current headliner Venom. At least we were spared a Morbius The Living Vampire cameo.
The last stinger is actually a trailer for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. (Doctor Strange In The MOM sounds like a MILF fetish porn parody.) It will include Rintrah! Why is he wearing so many clothes though? He looks weird not naked.
No Way Home is a frustrating fan service film. I absolutely loved getting Dafoe, Molina, Maguire, Garfield, & Holland together. I’m sure there was a way to accomplish this feat without retroactively changing five movies & making Swiss cheese out of MCU continuity going forward. (Into The Spider-Verse has some logistical hiccups of its own yet managed to do a self-contained interdimensional crossover.) What price nostalgia? So my favorite MCU movie of 2021 is … Eternals. It shocked me too!
It’s amusing Japanese Spider-Man never tried adapting any of his American foes when Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Mysterio, & Lizard would easily fit its alien yokai aesthetic.
Maybe people would be into Parker Parker for his body if he dressed more scantily?
The so-called Spider-Signal is really more of a belt-spotlight.
Mysterio is at again! Wasn’t it bad enough when he made us question what was & wasn’t cake?
Taking away Hobgoblin’s scale mail is a travesty if Hasbro isn’t giving him a new head & cape to be fully cartoon accurate.
Cardiac should’ve had an action figure by now since he’s so toyetic.
Morbius Mania will consume
2021 2022! Sony is so dumb to make a Morbius movie when Man-Wolf has so much more going for him. Those short-sighted fools killed him off in the first Venom! Maybe they can work out a deal to get him into She-Hulk? This is all the Morbius Mania I need!
Wasn’t Night-Monkey already the MCU’s Dusk?
Alistair Smythe calls the two giant phalluses on his back fangs. You know that’s not how anatomy works, Smythe!
Andrea Bang for Silk!
I aim to review Hawkeye next.