Spoilers got radioactive blood.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you’re a fan, you’ve already seen this one or are waiting a chance to see it. Nothing I’m going to say will deter you from watching it. If you’re not a fan, there’s nothing I will say that will convince you to watch it. It’s not a particularly polarizing film, it’s more or less embedded into the Marvel CU and it caters to its audience. And I’ve got my issues with it that were not started by this feature nor will they end here.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) was directed by Jon Watts and written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has just had his life turned upside down since he was outed as Spider-Man by a recording left behind by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhall, not in this film) who also pointed him as his murderer. This has turned him into both a celebrity and a wanted man, endangering the future aspirations of himself as well as MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) of getting into a good university. Peter decides to ask Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help, hoping he can make people forget his secret identity via magic. That spell goes awry and the fun begins as universes collide and we get characters from previous Spider-Man film iterations popping up.
Spoilers are coming, last chance to swing from a thread and browse away just in time…
Okey, this one is probably not going to win me any new readers but in all fairness it’s not just a Marvel thing. DC has their own issue sticking their repeat-reboot caped crusader, Batman, still traumatized by the death of his parents and motivated by revenge. Therefore, they revisit that again and again. For Spider-Man, his Groundhog day storyline always revolves around him discovering his powers, falling in love with his girlfriend who doesn’t know he’s alive and of course the entire great-power-and- great-responsibility speech. All that plus we’re still constantly rejuvenating him back to a teenager because, audience bracket I guess.
Big spoiler, that’s the thing at the finale, we’re going for the memory wipe. Now that’s not entirely true, Peter has come a long way and he’s matured and now tragedy will be mixed into his duty to his double life as a superhero. The Spider-Man history will move forward, and his identity is protected. But his life as Peter, his anchor to normal life has a devastating loss and top of that his friendship with Ned and his love life with MJ which never matured (has it ever?) are now erased.
Doctor Strange shares, if not owns, a lot of the responsibility here. Not only is he the older, more experienced adult. He’s also the one familiar with the ways of magic. For every other warning he spouts at Peter, he’s too late. Wouldn’t someone wise in how this stuff works have a zillion disclaimers to issue the young and naive Peter before casting such a spell? And also (and this where you’ll be tempted to click away) there’s a-not-so-subtle parallel to privilege here. It’s like trying a kid getting his life ruined running to a rich relative with enough power (magic) to make it all go away. And yes, there’s consequences but still, not the ones that Peter should have faced. The entire fabric of reality pales in comparison to his friends getting into college.
It’s a Marvel superhero feature, and it’s entertaining. The plot device matters little, the whole point is the whole cameos galore brought over giving way to hilarious encounters. So I know I’m taking it way too seriously and should just enjoy the popcorn. It’s not meant to be analyzed with a microscope. By the end, its goal is just to make you laugh, cry, cheer and give you a few thrills when the character does the thing that you recognize and love. But it’s just been done so many times that I should learn by now to expect the same thing instead of something new. Perhaps I’m just done with the superhero storyline when it’s told straight in recognizable tropes. I prefer a little subversion at least just for spice.
Only recommended for fans of Spider-Man and the Marvel CU with reservations and popcorn. You’re better off turning off your brain and just enjoying the ride, but I got my reservations that won’t factor into your viewing. You’ll recognize your favourite characters, laugh at their jokes and cry as tragedy strikes. It’s decent with acceptable performances but obviously expecting something new or not derivative from the superhero storyline is out of the question. Worth a watch for the fans but if you miss it, chances are you’re fine waiting for the next movie to fill in the blanks.
That will do for now.