No Way Home: …Fine
Aleasha Hintz—Staff Writer
(Warning: Spoilers, obviously)
When I finally bought tickets to watch Spider-Man: No Way Home, my friends had already hyped up the movie on social media. I even saw some reactions on personal Snapchat stories. I caught the bug and counted down the days until I could finally see the movie. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
I walked into the theater and settled into my DreamLounger recliner. When the bad theater commercials were over and the Marvel theme appeared on screen, my knuckles whitened in anticipation.
But the movie kind of just… happened. There were plenty of twists and turns within the story, but there were also parts that didn’t make sense or that seemed to drag on a bit too long.
The first qualm I have with this film is with the characterization of Dr. Stephen Strange. In earlier Marvel movies, Dr. Strange is shown to be hard-pressed to complete favors. I can buy the fact that he has a soft spot for Peter Parker. Who doesn’t, after all? But I simply do not believe that he would be so easily convinced to cast a spell of that magnitude, when he was so reluctant to give up the time stone in Infinity War. And when he finally did, it was only because he looked into the future.
I also don’t think Dr. Strange would have begun the spell without describing the full ramifications. He was a surgeon, a doctor. He would have been trained to make sure his patient understood all of the risks involved with surgery, or in this case, the spell. Dr. Strange was watered down for the sake of the movie’s plot.
No Way Home also contained a lot of fan service from the resurrections of Spider-Man villains to the appearance of both Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men. I will admit it was exciting to see all three iterations of Spider-Man on one screen, but none of them learned much from each other, unless you count the back cracking scene.
But overall, the character growth in the movie is just not there. The Spider-Men get along well, and they learn a little bit about each other. But that is where the character development ends.
This is unfortunate, especially considering that No Way Home enters as Holland’s third Spider-Man movie. The final act of a trilogy sets an expectaion, and mine wasn’t met.
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Parker learns more about the responsibility he has due to his powers. He learns not to rely so much on the assistance of his suit. He learns not to overreach and decides to stay in his lane as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Parker may not learn an explicit lesson, but he is left to deal with his grief. After this film, he appears noticeably older. He becomes less trusting and is weighed down by the death of Iron-Man and the expectations set upon him thereon.
But in No Way Home, Parker is essentially used as a punching bag, one thing after another. He is pummeled by public opinion, sued, denied college admittance. Aunt May dies, and he loses Ned and MJ to a spell that Dr. Strange would have never cast so recklessly.
And then he grins and bears it? I refuse to believe this is the end for Spider-Man.
I do not want to give up on the movie or Spider-Man in general. If speculation rings true and Holland continues to make more movies continuing off the end of No Way Home, there is serious potential for the movie to reveal its true worth.
But for now, No Way Home was just… fine.
No Way Home: A tribute to Spider-Man
Gretchen Lee—Copy Editor
Spider-Man is a cornerstone of modern pop culture. With three live-action movie series, one animated movie series, and an abundance of inspired memes and literature, Spider-Man has come to mean a great deal to countless people.
Anyone who dares touch the characters of the Spider-Man world must know they are touching a vital part of people’s childhoods and, as a result, must do so with care. At the risk of sounding cliché, anyone who chooses to make a Spider-Man movie must understand that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
The creative forces behind Spider-Man: No Way Home had this in mind as they brought together many facets of the Spider-Man world in a way that not only made for an excellent addition to Tom Holland’s run with the character, but also a satisfying conclusion for the other live-action portrayals of the wall-scaling hero.
When Mysterio reveals Spider-Man’s identity, Peter’s life flips upside down. He loses any semblance of privacy. And, worst of all, he and his friends—MJ and Ned—can’t get into MIT due to Peter’s controversial superhero activities So, Peter takes their future into his own hands by convincing fellow superhero Dr. Strange to cast a spell that will cause the entire world to forget he’s Spider-Man. The spell, however, goes awry, breaking the borders between universes, allowing infamous Spider-Man villains can cross worlds and wreak havoc on Peter’s city. As Peter attempts to handle the situation, he encounters several moral arguments from various directions and must decide what kind of hero he will be.
This movie could have been nothing but a huge heaping of fanservice, but it managed to be so much more. Amidst the excitement from seeing everyone’s favorite characters from the last two live-action Spider-Man movie series, there is a well-planned plot and appropriate theme.
In each Spider-Man movie (or Avenger’s movie that Spider-Man has participated in), Peter Parker has grown more as a character, learning and developing as he faces new challenges and grows older. For a character who was about 15 years old at his debut into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film feels like the final installment in Peter’s coming of age; the bright and bubbly high schooler has finally become a young adult. The most satisfying part about his growth, however, is that while Peter has faced tragedy at every turn, he still manages to cling to the hope and optimism that makes him Peter Parker. No Way Home is, in this way, an excellent piece of closure to Peter’s childhood.
Aside from a well-executed theme, the plot of the movie also fulfilled expectations. Although there were numerous characters in this film, it never felt overcrowded. References, cameos, and memes were used appropriately and didn’t prevent the film from being its own movie.
From a technical standpoint, this movie also stood out. At various points of the film, camera angles, music, and lighting supported the narrative and kept the viewing mind engaged. I was pleased to see that, while there were some night scenes, the shots were never too dark or difficult to see. Daytime shots were colorful and interesting to look at without appearing oversaturated. The CGI was believable and well used, although I would have appreciated the use of more practical effects in some scenes.
Despite its devastating end, No Way Home has given me hope for Peter’s future involvement in the MCU. I appreciate the development of Peter as a character and the kind of Spider-Man he has become and, hopefully, will continue to be in the future. While this movie had several deep themes that were appropriately developed, it still managed to keep the characteristic optimism that Spider-Man embodies. And, while this movie was a film of its own, it was also a love-letter to the Spider-Man franchise as a whole and to the fans who have loved Spider-Man through all his incarnations.
I know a popular complaint about recent MCU movies is that they feel like mass-produced, soulless money-grabs. I can understand that perspective considering some other recent additions to the MCU, but this movie is certainly not one of them; from the actors to the directors to the storywriters, No Way Home was created by people who love Spider-Man for people who love Spider-Man. The actors enjoyed returning to their roles, and their acting reflected how much they loved playing their characters. Every ounce of this movie is filled with heart, which, ultimately, makes it stand out.