I can’t remember if I’ve ever written No Spoilers in a movie review before, and maybe it’s all for naught. After all, only daredevils at this point are looking at the reviews unless they’ve seen the film already. Marvel is really good at making you feel like what they have crafted are a big family, and it would hurt one of them, not to be dishonest and give a good grade when it’s not warranted, but to spoil something they all worked hard to keep under wraps. So don’t worry. If you’ve watched any trailers, there’s nothing here you won’t already know about, except my thoughts.
Mysterio, Far from Home’s surprise antagonist played by Jake Gyllenhaal, really wasn’t kidding when he said people would believe anything and that he wasn’t done yet when he passed. As told by the mid-credits scene with the previous Spider-Man entry, Spider-Man’s identity has been revealed to the entire world. It was Mysterio’s last little trick. What’s more, he tricked the world into thinking the attack on London that killed him was his doing. You know, in every version of Spider-Man I’ve ever seen, there’s complaints at one point or another at being unknown, working extra hard to keep the world safe and never getting credit while he has personal troubles like bills and girlfriends.
But now he is known, and it’s worse than could’ve ever been thought possible. His friends stand by him and aren’t going to abandon just because he’s in the middle of a conspiracy, but after it becomes obvious that is really hurting their chances of reaching their dreams, he remembers he spoke with Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) about time and reality manipulation. He is able to come up with a plan that will help his situation, and I won’t spoil how, but there is a major catch, and his hesitation causes the spell to seriously malfunction, thus we’ve got the main concept for No Way Home, in my opinion the best Spider-Man movie, period, even better than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and Into The Spiderverse, both of which are great movies, don’t get me wrong.
As I’d expressed in my reviews of Black Widow and Shang-Chi, I enjoyed myself in those two movies but felt they were telling overly simple stories at a time where Endgame and Far From Home drastically heightened expectations for Marvel superhero flicks. And you know, even before those films were released, I felt after Far From Home’s surprise ending, as well as the fact the rest of the film was just flat-out amazing, that we had officially entered a phase where lots more was not just expected but required. Endgame was seen as the, well, endgame. If the MCU wants to keep this up properly they need to take some more risks to stay fresh. Remember back in the good old days, when it was announced Spider-Man would no longer be part of the MCU because of a contract dispute, and the Far From Home surprise ending was supposed to be left unfinished? It’s understandable why people were furious, especially since both the previous Spider-Mans have gone through cancelled sequels and cancelled franchises. When it was announced he’d be back it seemed like a miracle. For this and the big cliffhanger, as well as my trust in director Jon Watts and my love for Holland’s Parker and his crew, I had little doubt I would love this.
In the wake of all the rumours mixed with the certainty they were real and yet denial on some of the filmmakers’ parts, I prepared myself to accept whatever took place and enjoy the movie for what it was. What catapulted this to the top was not ‘just’ the clever surprises, smart storytelling or perfect laughs, but how this is a movie that left me heartbroken three different times. Getting me once is achievement enough. No Way Home does exactly what I’ve been saying the MCU needs to do to stay fresh, being willing to go routes that some people may not like, and making the audience think about what the right thing is to do but if maybe it’s better to be safe and selfish. Spider-Man makes a choice that does more damage than I ever thought possible, and it made me think about how sometimes growing up means losing our innocence and trusting less when we go through something he went through. And not since Captain America: Civil War where the Avengers acknowledged their powers and battles cause a lot of innocent people to die has there been a superhero story that demolishes and breathes new life into the field of superheroes. It’s a story about fighting for redemption, for lost lives, and utilizes nostalgia in the best ways possible by not propping it up only as Easter Eggs but also as exploration for the true identity of Spider-Man and what makes a hero.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is a sensational film, and I can’t wait to rewatch it with my family, who I will probably have to lecture them on what happened in Far From Home, even though they all saw it and liked it too. It’ll be fun times.