An example of how to balance fan service with an amazing film
By Collin Frazier
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” Those six words are synonymous with the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Despite that, this quote really has not been explored in the MCU’s rendition of the hero. However, that changed with the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Spider-Man: No Way Home. After Quentin Beck, AKA Mysterio, revealed Spider-Man’s identity in the mid-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker and his loved ones’ lives turn for the worse. Desperate, he turns to Dr. Stephen Strange to make everyone forget who hides underneath the mask. What follows is debatably the best MCU film to date. If you have not seen the movie yet, consider this your SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT.
What the selling point was for this movie was it brought in several villains from both Sam Rami’s Trilogy and Marc Webb’s Duology. After what we saw in Eternals, I was a bit hesitant for Marvel to bring in 5 characters at once. I am glad to say the hesitation was for nothing. All of the villains contributed to Peter’s conflict in some way, some more than others. Personally, seeing Willem Defoe and Alfred Molina as Green Goblin and Otto Octavius once again respectively was a dream come true. It was like neither of them met their fates in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, respectively. More on Molina later.
This film also did Jamie Foxx’s rendition of Electro right. Not only was he no longer a blue nightmare, but the film also let Foxx’s charisma flow like the electricity he would shoot out. My only gripe with the villains is I feel Rhys Ifans as Lizard and Thomas Haden Church as Sandman were underutilized. They were both still great, but could have had a little more screen time.
WARNING: SERIOUS SPOILERS FROM HERE ON. DO NOT SAY I DID NOT WARN YOU.
What this film did extremely well was it did not shy away from emotional weight. As stated previously, Homecoming and Far From Home really did not explore the idea of “great power, great responsibility”. No Way Home finally did. It truly felt like Peter’s action had consequences. These said actions led to the death of his Aunt May by the Green Goblin, rejection from his, M.J. ‘s, and Ned’s dream college, and public distrust in the hero.
However, he made the ultimate sacrifice and made the entire multiverse forget who Peter Parker is thanks to help from Dr. Strange. He redeemed himself by finally accepting the responsibility of being Spider-Man, at the cost of basically ceasing to exist. I look forward to if and how Peter makes his loved ones remember who he is. Speaking of who Peter Parker is…
STOP READING IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE YET. THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING.
Marvel did it. They actually did it. The film not only brought back the villains from the two franchises, but it brought back both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s versions of Spider-Man. Even though most people knew it was going to happen, that did not stop everyone in the theater from going crazy when they both showed up, myself included. Seeing three Spider-Men fight at once was a childhood dream come true for most people.
But it was not just fan service. The film fleshed out Garfield and Maguire’s characters so well. Garfield, even after 7 years, still blames himself for the death of Gwen Stacey. Fortunately, he finally redeemed himself by preventing M.J. from meeting a similar fate. As well, he was finally able to make peace with Electro at the end of the film, with a nice nod to Miles Morales during their conversation as well.
For Maguire, he was so developed that it was hard to develop him any further. However, it was his conversion with Octavius that stood out. It was almost like Octavius was talking to us when he told Peter, “You’re all grown up”. I couldn’t help but get choked up. Alfred Molina is such a talented actor and his rendition of Doctor Octopus may be the best and most sympathetic comic book villain in film history.
I could go even further on this film, but I may make this review too long. So I will end with this: Spider-Man: No Way Home managed to satisfy long time fans of the hero while still making a great film, completing the holy trinity of Spider-Man movies (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Man 2, and No Way Home). While it may be debatable if this is the greatest Spider-Man movie, this is without a doubt the greatest MCU film to date. My final rating for Spider-Man: No Way Home is 98/100.