Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comic book by)
Stars: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield,
Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx,
Marisa Tomei, Benedict Wong
Far be it from me to keep the super conglomerate that is (Disney) Marvel off a list of my favourite films of the year. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the final entry in a trilogy of films while also existing as the 30-something entry in an ever growing, continuous franchise spanning a multitude of different characters in a variety of different world ending, universe ending, existential crises in which heroes are destined to inevitably succeed after their god-like trials and tribulations. It is a long-hailed criticism that films of this nature have become too predictable, their stories plugged into a machine that produces universal products for maximum audience consumption.
Truthfully, I do not believe it is for this critic to say. To levy a criticism that encompassing would be to dismiss films as an individual experience, and were I to do that, I would be forced to consider the wider implications of such an action (I may never see a Star Wars film again! Are all western movies the same as well? Friday the 13th is no longer enjoyable because it treads familiar ground? The anxieties of such a decision!).
I prefer to appreciate all manner of films, and no matter how money hungry producers may seem behind the scenes, it cannot discount that No Way Home is nothing short of a stellar accomplishment as a sequel to a trilogy, a sequel to a franchise, and a sequel to two other franchises (…my god, okay, perhaps this is getting a bit too large. But I digress!).
No Way Home introduces an unlikely sort of plot, the kind of magical, accidentally multiverse-opening jargon one could expect from a film this ambitious. But if there is one thing we have learned in years of watching films like this, it is that the plot works best as a backdrop, a set piece for which to detail poignant character discoveries and intimate details of interpersonal communication with inherently high stakes, and on this front No Way Home inarguably succeeds.
Relationships are central to the highlights of the film as well as the core theme, and each progression in the plot reflects an internal conflict raised within our beautifully relatable protagonist. Perhaps the most impressive idea in No Way Home is how remarkable it is to craft a hero that could almost instantaneously alleviate the central conflict for himself but refuses in an effort to promote a greater good and how easily the audience is able to understand that decision.
It must be said about the aforementioned machine churning producorial component that No Way Home is debatably the most satisfying display of fan service ever put to screen, offering a myriad of brilliant acknowledgements, rewarding fans for investment in years of blockbusters and improving upon occasionally lacklustre material from films past.
No Way Home is miles away from a perfect film. Once the hype-haze leaves the mind, a crystallised acknowledgment of the plot’s numerous holes begins to fill its void. Contrived elements of selecting characters at arbitrary times in their universes brings the world building to question, and the science jargon—while already taxing in its gimmickry—does dampen the stakes on several preceding films in the franchise.
But creatives likely knew these pitfalls which is why their focus instead is to redirect audience attention to the emotionally vibrant performances, the always-in-focus theme, and the exceedingly excellent visual effects that maintain the suspense that our heroes may fail making it all the more satisfying when they succeed. And in the rare occurrences when they don’t succeed, the reverberations of consequences from No Way Home are destined to have lasting impact on the titular character as well as the world around him, and I for one am excited to see it. 8.7/10