It has to do with my great affection for Spider-Man, and even more for Peter Parker. I even edited an issue of a magazine about the web-slinger.
In the past few years, I had scurried to see all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I haven’t, to date, seen any of the ones in this current crop: Black Widow, Shang-Chi, or The Eternals, though I probably will eventually.
It’s not necessary to have seen all of the earlier Spider-Man films to appreciate the new one. Still, in 2020, I watched four I had not viewed before. I do think it enhanced my enjoyment, especially the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
For you non-comics fans, the broad idea of a multiverse is that there are a lot of Spider-Man stories that exist over nearly 60 years. Invariably internal inconsistencies arise. So some stories are about Spider-Man in OTHER universes. If you get that, you can appreciate No Way Home just fine.
Peter Parker is Spider-Man!
The secret of our Peter (Tom Holland) is out, as we learned at the very end of the previous film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Daily Bugle blowhard J. Jonah Jamison (J.K. Simmons) accuses him of a heinous crime. This puts the people he cares about, girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), best pal Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), in danger. Can Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cast a spell to erase people knowing that Peter is Spidey? But wait, not everyone…
We end up with villains engaging with Spider-Man. But he’s not THEIR Peter Parker. They can be sent back to their own universes. But don’t they deserve a shot of redemption? If by chance you haven’t seen it, just about everything I could say further would be a spoiler. If you HAVE seen the movie, read how it was shaped by its casting.
I can report that I loved this movie. There’s a scene, reminiscent of a part of another film but with a different outcome that made me a little teary-eyed. (It’s the storyline from Amazing Spider-Man #121, the second issue of the comic I ever purchased.) By the end, the reset button has been hit for our friendly, neighborhood hero, and that is a good thing. And, maybe because it was the season, elements of It’s A Wonderful Life came to mind.
Does it have too much insider humor? A negative review notes: “There’s no attempt to hide that the film is pure fan service, a greatest-hits mashup of Spider-Man’s cinematic legacy.” If it’s a fan service project – and the writers are clearly fans -then it succeeded wildly. But I think the non-initiated can enjoy it too.
I saw No Way Home at Spectrum 8 in Albany, a Landmark Theatre, in the last week of 2021. That was before I realized, per an SNL cold open, that Joe Biden blamed ‘Spider-Man’ for all of the nation’s problems.