January 28, 2020 | LIFE | By Carlee Castillo
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a triumph for the tireless Marvel superfans, the casual viewer, and the teenage fangirl. As the latter, I often feel discouraged when navigating the dense collection of Marvel films. The studio is a master of escapism and enjoyability – two characteristics that often lead me to the occasional superhero movie watch.
Through the tangled plots and thorny character arcs, Marvel seems to always produce a quintessentially fun film. That said, I love Marvel for its enjoyability rather than its complexity. So, if you are looking for an expert review of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” perhaps look elsewhere.
I love superhero movies. However, the expansive realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be overwhelming. Although I am one for fantastical worlds and unrealistic storylines, watching 27 movies to understand a niche one-liner has never appealed to me.
However, amidst the tangled web of stories the Marvel cinematic universe has spun, “Spider-Man No Way Home” is neat. The plot is tidy, easy to follow, and accessible to a variety of viewers, regardless of previous MCU exposure.
Every generation is accounted for in the film. From Tobey Maguire originalists to Tom Holland cultists, viewers can expect to be satisfied. Though some reprimand Marvel’s introduction of the multiverse as an unoriginal cash-in, the care and attentiveness to each displaced character is compelling.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” offers redemption to the Spider-Man of each generation. The audience appreciation was clear from the resounding reactions that filled the theaters while viewing the movie.
In addition to the film, the theater experience was classically fun. The audience’s reactions were wholesome and invigorating. All three times I viewed the film, audible gasps and chittering filled the theater.
Andrew Garfield in particular elicited a strong emotional response from “Spider-Man: No Way Home” patrons. His mere silhouette incited sharp inhalations of surprise and jubilation among the velvet rows. Yet, rather than utilizing Garfield for simplistic fan-service, the studio referenced the devastating events from his past duology.
His trilogy was aborted early, so Garfield was denied the opportunity to fully develop his version of Spider-Man. The emotional intensity Marvel grants his character in this film reads as penance for past mistakes.
Even as a casual viewer, it is difficult not to be struck by Garfield’s teary rescue of MJ as she mirrors a falling Gwen Stacy. The dark, emotional core of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” transforms the film into much more than just a manipulation of nostalgia.
The performances in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” are equally fulfilling. Tom Holland’s execution is exemplary of the newest Spider-Man franchise. While Garfield’s Spider-Man becomes jaded and Maguire’s develops into a mentor, Holland continues to portray a child-like idealism. Although this innocence is challenged when Holland is driven to near murder, morality and responsibility prevail in the end.
In all, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a coming-of-age arch, an opportunity for redemption, and something truly special. The dark themes of grief and loss are juxtaposed with sunny banter and a persisting triumph of good over evil.
The movie is an absurd reunion, ensnaring its wide variety of viewers into a craftily woven web.