***WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD FOR NO WAY HOME***
No Way Home is easily one of the greatest movies ever made, in my opinion, and not just because it is a Marvel, a superhero, or a Spider-Man movie. It is one of those movies which comes along every so often and completely blows your mind and changes the game forever. The best way to explain it is, ironically, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) itself.
When Iron Man came out in 2008, it was not the first superhero movie we had ever seen— it was not even close. No one could have said at that point “in 10 years we will have the MCU.” The concept simply just did not exist. Then came Avengers. We have come to expect our favorite heroes to show up in other movies nowadays. In fact, we may even take it for granted sometimes, but back then this was a whole new ball game. Avengers marked the first time we saw several superhero characters all within the same movie, with big budget, and on the big screen. This idea became the norm from then on, and only grew bigger and bigger, until the release of Infinity War and Endgame. We learned that all the movies which came before were telling one big story, and now we were about to witness the end. Boy was it beautiful and emotional.
Endgame saw the story end for many of the characters we grew up with and loved. It shattered us to our very core and left us with a real feeling of loss. However, it was not all bad news. It was merely the end of one story and the beginning of a new one. One in which Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would become one of the new main players following many successful cameos and his first solo movie, Homecoming. Fans could not get enough of this new iteration of the character and for Holland himself because he did play the role to perfection.
I grew up with Toby Maguire, then watched Andrew Garfield. However, I now cannot help but think of Holland when thinking about Spider-Man. Inevitably he got his second solo movie in the form of Far From Home. The sequel would become the first MCU movie to take place after the events of Endgame and, therefore, must acknowledge the huge impact it had in “that world.” Interestingly, the movie managed to do that within the first few moments by showing us a montage of the heroes we lost. It saddened us, but also made us smile.
The movie would then go on to deliver a spectacular storyline which would end with Spider-Man’s secret identity, Peter Parker, being revealed to the world. I was shocked and I know many other fans were too. More so because it really did make us think, “How do you fix this?” Whilst it left us pondering what was next for the wall-crawler, the ending of Far From Home pretty much guaranteed a threequel. I mean that was just too big of a cliff-hanger.
Now, Spider-Man threequels have a bit of bad rep from movie fans so this naturally made more than a few fans worry. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, Maguire’s threequel, did not go down well with fans, and was heavily criticized for many reasons. It was such a huge disappointment to fans, made worse by the fact Spider-Man 2 is still often regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time. It essentially destroyed any hopes of a fourth movie, which was planned at the time by Sony. So, we got a reboot instead, and Andrew Garfield became the new Spidey.
Starring in two films The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, many fans loved the new take on the character, with many applauding Garfield’s portrayal (with some even citing it as better than Maguire’s). Despite that, Garfield could not make it past two movies. It was pretty much confirmed a third outing was on the table, as well as a potential Sinister Six movie, but the second movie failed to reach Sony’s expectations, and so any further development was scrapped.
Then along came the MCU, and they wanted Spider-Man to be included. There were rumors that Garfield would take up the role again. However, the part was later recast and given to Tom Holland. Unlike Garfield’s reboot though, the MCU version of the character was very different to what we had seen before. One of the biggest changes was the lack of a certain important character, Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben is probably the most important character in Spider-Man’s story, yet he was suspiciously absent from the storyline. We all know he sadly dies, but he is a catalyst of sorts and helps make Peter the hero he is by delivering the famous line “With great power, comes great responsibility.” To not have him in a Spider-Man movie seemed strange. Instead, Tony Stark essentially took on that role as a mentor and idol to Peter and helped train him. We were led to believe the passing of Uncle Ben had happened already, so we got over it. Also, Aunt May was now much younger, and let’s be honest, hot!
Holland’s first two outings as the web-slinger were extremely successful, but it looked like he too was going to become a victim to the “Spidey Threequel Curse.” Sony had begun creating their own universe and there were genuine concerns that a threequel would not happen as they would no longer allow the character to appear in the MCU, especially since they still own the rights to the character. Thankfully though, they managed to come to an agreement with Marvel, and a third movie was green-lit. Almost immediately after the announcement fans went wild, speculating what was in store for this third adventure, and strangely, what it was going to be called.
The hype train continued to gain speed. When it was announced that Alfred Molina would be returning as Otto Octavius (Doc Ock) from Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, the hype reached critical mass, and it only got bigger from there.
The Multiverse was still a very new concept and was only beginning to be explored. However, it opened the door for more actors to reprise their roles from the two previous Spider-Man film series by essentially making them all part of the wider Multiverse. Jamie Foxx was coming back as Electro, Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin, Thomas Hayden Church as Sandman, and Rhys Ifans as the Lizard. This was huge and caused fans to speculate about what other surprises may be in store, specifically the possible inclusion of both Garfield and Maguire’s Spider-Man. It sounded too good to be true. Surely that just was not possible, but it was.
Not only did No Way Home see the return of Maguire and Garfield, but it also gave us what seemed like some long awaited closure. Maguire revealed he managed to make his life with MJ work and Garfield got the ultimate redemption. As many know, the infamous death of Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had long been a sore point for fans, and raised a very interesting debate within the fandom. Did she die from the fall or did Spider-Man’s attempt at saving her with his web ultimately cause her death? We never really got a definitive answer and for Garfield’s version of the character, things just felt unresolved.
In No Way Home, Zendaya’s character, revealed to be this version’s “MJ”, falls from scaffolding and it is Garfield’s Spider-Man who ends up saving her. The scene mirrors that of Gwen’s fall and allows Garfield’s Spidey to get some closure by saving her. It is also worth noting the difference between how he reacts in each scene. With Stacey, he relies on his web, whereas with Zendaya’s character, he goes for the catch. This hints that he learned from his mistake the first time, thus allowing him to release some of that guilt.
Therefore, No Way Home is one of the best movies ever made. It was not just a great movie, continuing a character’s story. It was something more. The inclusion of Maguire and Garfield did not just make for cool cameos. They helped bridge a generation gap. The movie not only continued to set up the future of the MCU but acknowledged the characters’ total journey thus far on the big screen, and finally gave a poignant and fitting end to the Maguire and Garfield eras in a very respectful way.
Be sure to let us know your thoughts.
Written By Jordan Mcglinchey
Syndicated From Culture Slate