Jon Watts delivers the best Spider-Man movie to date
I openly confess that Spider-Man has never been my favorite superhero, even if it’s not the best way to start a review: I feel close to Peter Parker’s nerdy spirit as many do, but I have other Marvel icons, not to mention the fact that my favorite belongs to the DC world (you don’t need to guess who he is).
That said, I have always followed Marvel Cinematic Universe’s stories with passion and so I did with Spider-Man’s which, to be honest, I’ve never found particularly exciting, at least until the arrival of the films with Tom Holland, which redefined the character (also thanks to the crossovers with the Avengers’ films) giving him a little more liveliness after years of dull romanticism.
In the 2019 film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, we left Peter Parker grieving the loss of his mentor Tony Stark and on the verge of a struggle with another life-disrupting event: in the finale, the former Stark Industries employee Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, reveals Spider-Man’s identity to the world shortly before his death, with a video that is then released by the media. This is where the new chapter by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home, begins.
At this point, Peter Parker’s life changes radically: everyone knows who he is, many see him as the public enemy number one, Mysterio’s killer; others support him, but the authorities want to arrest him to clarify his position. Aunt May and the head of security of Stark Industries, “Happy”, manage to get him out of the trouble for a while, but there are still consequences: MIT rejects Peter’s college enrollment, as well as his girlfriend’s, MJ, and their friend’s, Ned, because of their “controversial position”. Facing the injustice, Peter thinks of the only possible solution: asking Doctor Strange for help to manipulate time and bring it back to before Mysterio’s revelation. Doctor Strange can’t help Peter the way he wants, but he finds an alternate spell: he can make everyone forget who Spider-Man really is. However, something goes wrong: Strange can’t complete the ritual, several doors of the multiverse open and attract into Peter’s reality some of the enemies who fought with Spider-Man or rather… with different versions of him. So, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Lizard and Green Goblin come back to chase him. At this point, Peter has two options: sending his enemies back to their realities and leave them to their fate or giving them a chance for redemption in the world they ended up in by chance?
Spider-Man: No Way Home addresses several important themes: it’s a film about personal growth, the price of fame and second chances. If Peter Parker found it difficult to live a double life so far, now he’s forces to live only one in the spotlight. The special effects (always up to the the best Marvel films) take the back seat compared to the rest: the strength of Spider-Man:No Way Home is the story, disguised as fantastic, but very relevant: it’s easy to draw a parallel between what happens to Peter and what happens to young people looking for fame on social media.
The film also represents a turning point for the character who not only enters adulthood through loss, but also shows Tom Holland’s different dramatic nuances, which we’ve seen little of until now. The new Peter Parker is always clumsy, but also romantic, angry, and he builds his ethical sense and fortitude through experience and solid role models. The cast is close-knit: in addition to the welcome return of our favorite villains Alfred Molina (Octopus), Willem Dafoe (Goblin) and Jamie Foxx (Electro), we find once again Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Marisa Tomei (May), Zendaya (MJ) and a fantastic Jacob Batalon (Ned) to whom we owe part of the fun. I said “part” because there are surprises I avoid to reveal: go to the cinema and you’ll know what they’re about.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is distributed by Sony Pictures: it debuts today, December 15, 2021, in Italy and on December 17 in the United States.