‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ celebrates web-slinger cinematic legacy

Noah Levine, Life & Arts Film Columnist

*This review contains very minor spoilers*

After months of endless teasers, leaks and spidey-mania, the newest adventure is finally here. 

Tom Holland swings back onto the big screen with the latest entry in the web-slinging trilogy, “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Picking up directly after the shocking events of Marvel’s “Far From Home,” Peter Parker (Holland) grapples with his new reality now that everyone knows he is Spider-Man. Desperate to reverse the course of his life’s destruction, Parker enlists the help of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) with hopes that a spell will make the world forget who Spider-Man really is. When Parker interrupts Strange’s spell-casting process, the fate of the multiverse is threatened as villains from other universes enter Parker’s reality. 

Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon ease back into their iconic roles from the previous two movies. Holland’s Spider-Man/Parker is as entertaining as ever, effortlessly jumping between comedy, drama and romantic aspects of his performance. The chemistry between the trio of high school friends oozes with energy, creating a refreshing contrast to the grim scenario surrounding Parker and his friends. Marisa Tomei and Jon Favreau return to their supporting roles as Aunt May and Happy, aiding Holland’s Parker in his external and internal challenges at hand. Tomei in particular cements herself as a key component of Parker’s evolution into the hero he is meant to become. 

“No Way Home” sees the return of a rogues gallery featuring villains from “Spider-Man” (2002) all the way to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014). Jamie Foxx zaps his way back into the role of Electro, ditching the awkward blue schtick for a much more grounded and menacing take on the character. Carrying over his power-hungry antics from his previous appearance, Foxx manages to instill a new angle of comedy and snarkiness into the iconic villain. Alfred Molina famously reprises his role of Dr. Otto Octavius with the same amount of complex anger and scientific wonder as before.

Dafoe hams it up once again with his wild return to the role of Norman Osborne. Ditching the mask for the majority of his appearance, Dafoe’s maniacal facial acting is on full display. Though buried beneath heavy CGI and animation, Thomas Haden and Rhys Ifans slide right back into their respective roles of Sandman and The Lizard. Moments where the villains interact among themselves feel as if they came straight out of a little kid’s toy box, with legendary characters like Molina’s Octavius finally sharing the screen with Dafoe’s Goblin. It’s a rare opportunity for a studio to revisit characters from their vault to not only aid in the narrative of the new storyline, but also provide closure for those wronged by canceled sequels and other behind the scenes drama. 

With so many elements at play, it’s a miracle “No Way Home” manages to work. Taking a page out of director Sam Raimi’s book by exploring the power of forgiveness and second chances, Holland’s Peter Parker embarks on a quest that feels true to his character’s three-film arc while remaining in line with the cinematic legacy of the villains.

While Spider-Man’s newest film is mostly a success, there are a few bumps in the road that hinder its overall effectiveness. Certain logistics when it comes to Dr. Strange’s magic and spells often get a bit convoluted as the narrative progresses. Some legacy characters returning to their old roles feel a bit stiff, not embracing the full extent of their prior performance. Additionally, “No Way Home” leans a bit too heavily into a light-hearted atmosphere during moments when things should feel more tense. Luckily, certain character decisions and set pieces launch the film into an appropriately dramatic tone as the narrative progresses.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” pays tribute to an entire legacy of cinematic interpretations of the web-slinging hero. Characters from all corners of the multiverse crawl out from the shadows to play, making for one of the most exciting and surprising superhero film experiences of the 21st century. 


4.5 pumpkin bombs out of 5