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Spider-Man No Way Home poster

Spider-Man: No Way Home

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What it’s about:

Following directly after the cliffhanger ending of Spider Man: Far from Home—in which Mysterio revealed Spider-Man’s identity to the world—Peter Parker becomes a liability to his closest friends and loved ones. Turning to Doctor Strange to fix the problem with magic, he instead ends up inadvertently opening a portal to the multiverse, bringing in threats from parallel worlds.

Names you might know:

Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter, alongside Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned. Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, and Benedict Cumberbatch also return from the MCU. Several veterans of other Spider-Man films and Marvel properties show up as well. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Why it’s worth your time:

Spider-Man No Way Home still courtesy SonyIt’s difficult to explain what makes Spider-Man: No Way Home such a worthwhile and meaningful addition to the Spider-Man canon without revealing any of the surprises that make it so great. But I’m going to try anyway.

What I can say without spoiling too much is that this is the film Spider-Man fans have been waiting for. It’s filled with intense action, powerful emotions, genuine laughs, and so many punch-the-air moments your arm may get tired. In other words, believe the hype. If you have any kind of investment at all in the character of Peter Parker or Spider-Man, No Way Home is sure to resonate with you on some level.

With two Spider-Man movies and three Avengers team-ups (in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame) under his belt, Tom Holland has had more screen time than either of his two predecessors (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), but the Marvel Cinematic Universe version has also strayed the furthest from Spidey’s comic-book origins. In No Way Home we finally get to see the MCU’s Peter evolve into the Spider-Man he was meant to be. He comes to truly understand the lonely burden of being a masked superhero and the great responsibility that comes with great power.

Holland has always brought a likable quality to Peter—grounded in his naive optimism and steadfast morality—but here he gets to stretch that range even further, and it’s impressive. Holland isn’t the only one putting the work in, though. Everyone who shares the screen with him is absolutely committed, no matter how crazy things get.

And wow does it get crazy. Like world-shattering, heart-pounding, can’t-believe-your-eyes crazy. With such a complicated plot, there are bound to be holes in the film’s logic, and there are plenty here. But the pure joy in seeing what’s happening on screen is enough to keep you from thinking about it too much. It’s only after you leave the theater that you may find yourself asking, “Wait, what about this?” or “Why didn’t that happen?” And even then, those questions are easy to dismiss when you think about what the film gets absolutely right about the essence of Peter Parker.

Finally, there’s another big question that must be addressed these days when it comes to exclusive theatrical releases. With Covid-19 still a factor and new, more contagious variants emerging, is it worth the risk to see this film on a big screen? That’s a question each moviegoer will have to answer for themselves, but I will say that while there are big action set pieces that may not play as well on a smaller screen, Spider-Man: No Way Home is full of fun and poignant moments that will hold up in any format.

The takeaway:

If you’re a fan of Spider-Man in any form, No Way Home is not to be missed. Just be prepared for an emotional workout, with wild swings worthy of the web-slinger himself.

Watch it with:

This film is a crowd pleaser, so you can watch it with anyone. But if you’re a Marvel fan, gather friends who will want to geek out with you for maximum enjoyment.

Worth noting:

Every Marvel fan worthy of the title knows not to leave the theater until the now-expected end-credit scene. No Way Home has two, though one is more of a trailer than a scene. Both have some big hints about the future direction of Spider-Man and the MCU, so be sure to stick around.

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