BY BENTLEY BARTLETT
Spider-Man: No Way Home is an elaborate visual film piece that left a colorful mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and has continued to bring in flooding masses of positive ratings. Generating 1.916 billion dollars in the box office, it is safe to say that this movie was a great success for Marvel. But what makes this movie so great? An important factor made No Way Home a little bit more magical for avid Marvel fans: nostalgia.
When the film’s first mention of release was publicized, immediately there was speculation that old faces like the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus would return to their respective stages, but most people were unsure if their original actors would step up to the plate again, or if new faces would come to light. Only roughly twenty minutes into the film, we were greeted by two fondly spoken faces most Marvel fans know—Norman Osborn’s actor, Willem Dafoe, and Otto Octavius’ actor, Alfred Molina. Later in the movie we see three other returning players—Jamie Foxx’s iteration of Max Dillon, better known as Electro. Rhys Ifans, playing the Lizard, and Thomas Haden Church, playing the Sandman, returned and were welcomed back onto the Marvel scene with open arms and a lot of cheering in the movie theaters during last year’s initial release. The bow on this gift of returning actors was a trio of our favorite neighborhood Spider-Men: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland. When Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker iteration came through one of Stephen Strange’s portals, crowds in the theater went wild, only to be hit by another reveal of Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker in full suit.
One of the most refreshing aspects of No Way Home is its visual complexity, from Tom Holland’s Peter Parker chase for the “Macchina di Kadavus”, Strange’s box containing a spell that would inevitably send the battled villains of the discovered multiverse back to their home universes to deal with their own fates, all the way into the three Peter’s conclusive battle over the Macchina di Kadavus against each of their assigned villains, where we witnessed a major improvement in visual effects from Sandman’s raging storm around Lady Liberty to the flashes of lightning from Electro weaving between gusts of sand around the scaffolding of the statue. During Doctor Strange’s exhausting chase for his box Peter “1” had stolen, Strange sent Peter through many mazes in his “mirror dimension”, forcing Peter through elaborate, constantly moving geometrical fractures of buildings and scenery that attempted to encapsulate Peter from his escape. The CGI team’s ability to create an illusory set that Spider-Man had to navigate through an architectural trap is one thing, but executing the smooth movement and intertwining mall floorways was beyond impressive. Further into the dispute between Peter and Strange, Peter uses his mathematical skills to trump Strange into a web linked between rocks formed in an Archimedean spiral. Even more impressive are the general shots that were filmed and created to match each and every villain’s aura in No Way Home. These scenes were such an underrated, unnoticed aspect of the film that brought it together like glue and held it together.
Throughout the entirety of No Way Home, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker was thrust into many public image issues—when Mysterio revealed Peter’s identity to the world, New York City swarmed Peter. It was ingenious and raw to create issues Peter, a high school student, would face that were far more probable and possible than any other conflict issues in other Marvel movies because of the real world ideations, the film became relatable to many of its viewers, making it easier to digest and enjoy. Much like the previous iterations of Peter Parker, Tom Holland’s Peter faced a great deal of trauma that peaked with the loss of his Aunt May; a moral beacon of guidance for Peter throughout the MCU Spider-Man movies. As Peter struggles throughout the movie to develop his identity in a way conforming to the public and their criticism, he was forced to deal with the “responsibility” of giving villains not of his world the chance to become better, and to revoke their evil reign of terror on every version of NYC they came from.
Spider-Man: No Way Home has been a big success and a great movie to go to for both comfort and emotional reflection we could all use. It contains elements of family conflict, confusion with identity, growing up, responsibility, and accountability that we can all utilize as an indirect learning lesson from all three Peters and learn from their reactions in how to become better people as a whole. Having an ultimate reunion of Spider-Man characters new and old has made Spider-Man: No Way Home an ageless movie that is impossible to get tired of.