Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 28 min.

Release Date: December 17th, 2021 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon Watts Actors: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jon Favreau, Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Foxx, J.K. Simmons




icking up almost directly after the events of the previous film, Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is pronounced “Public Enemy #1” by The Daily Bugle, run by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), who holds the superhero responsible for the demise of Mysterio during the London drone attack. Additionally, Jameson exposes Spider-Man’s identity as that of Peter Parker, causing plenty of consternation for his friends, family, and girlfriend Michelle Jones (Zendaya). And then federal agents open an investigation, putting Parker’s private life fully on display, while also converting his former fame into notoriety. “I wouldn’t change a thing I did,” comforts Michelle, even though her relationship with the controversial figure threatens her future opportunities.

Distraught, particularly with his inability to get into the college of his choice (and his reputation preventing others from being accepted as well), Peter visits Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who offers up some select spell-casting that quickly turns messy. Ironically, the bulk of the plot in this third Holland outing (and third Spidey-directing gig for Jon Watts) stems from the flimsiest of excuses to toy with multiple universes (countless, actually, which makes the tampering even more frustratingly futile), resulting in a series of escalating conflicts and tragedies that muster little sympathy. The hubris is at an agonizing high.

“I am so confused right now.” The characters and their backstories are getting overly complicated as well, considering that there are a wealth of entries into the Spider-Man features alone, what with their frequent reboots. But for those who have been keeping up, this latest chapter boasts the return of plenty of familiar faces, effectively orchestrating a class reunion – all while jeopardizing the very fabric of reality. Of particular note is the resurgence of former villains, including Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) and Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), who plagued previous iterations of the web-slinger. But “Spider-Man: No Way Home” doesn’t stop at just the more memorable antagonists, opting to resurrect a number of mediocre ones too; both the good and the bad come back for more screentime. Nevertheless, it’s admittedly fun to see recognizable baddies in thankfully limited, supporting roles.

“Nick Fury has been off-planet…” Still troublesome is the existence of the Avengers and their spacefaring undertakings, as it adds a sense of smallness and meaninglessness to the plights of measly earthlings. Even more unfortunate is the multiverse and the seemingly limitless powers of Strange, which proffers the possibility of reversing or undoing just about anything, thereby making every choice or outcome virtually inconsequential. Ruination and tragedy are only permanent if some random decision is made to conveniently force them to be; plenty of other predicaments are easily fixable with a bit of unexplained tech or a magical conjuring or a handy portal to another dimension. And nearly all of the action-packed showdowns are still inundated with computer-animated chaos.

Nevertheless, the premise that bridges and addresses the overabundance of prior Spider-Man pictures is moderately amusing, getting the band back together to some extent for an entertaining exercise in second chances. Plus, Peter and MJ are far more engaging in this slightly maturer love story, even if their union is designed around ridiculous circumstances turned severer by purposely amplified mistakes. And the humor that wafts through the script, though not quite as knee-slapping as many of the Marvel-only endeavors, helps to disguise the fact that essentially all of the death and mayhem is singlehandedly caused by Peter’s misguided notions of high-minded heroism.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10

The Spider-Man Franchise

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)