Crossovers can be immensely satisfying or intimidatingly baffling, depending on how invested you are in a franchise.
As the casting for Spider-Man: No Way Home was gradually announced with seemingly every actor who had ever been attached to the movies since Sam Raimi’s early aughts Spider-Man trilogy, the news was met with equal parts glee and trepidation.
How much homework would we need to do here?!
What Is The Plot Of Spider-Man No Way Home?
Within the overarching plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up again with Peter Parker and pals after the events of their previous movie, Far From Home, in which the fight with Mysterio left Peter battered, vulnerable, and exposed.
In keeping with the grounding of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man movies, these big stakes are all wrapped up in smaller, teenage ones: applying for college.
So how does every actor who has ever glimpsed the friendly neighbourhood web-slinger factor in?
The ‘multiverse’ (an infinite number of parallel dimensions) has been the seeded concept for the current MCU phase, and when Peter turns to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help after his friends suffer because of him then, well, let's just say magical solutions have a tendency to backfire.
The biggest criticism of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, and many other superhero films as well, is that too many villains make a film unfocused and ultimately unsatisfying.
The trailers were hardly shy at revealing the return of Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (from the Toby Maguire era) but safe to say he isn’t the only villain (nor original actor) who makes a return.
No Way Home smartly skips extensive exposition and yet uses the fact that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has no knowledge of these characters as an entry point to shorthand them to the audience; homework helps your appreciation but isn’t a requirement.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Official Trailer
Is Spider-Man: No Way Home Worth Watching?
It is quite an ability to fold in so many characters, new and old, and neatly tie off their plot arc so satisfyingly.
The entire mechanism of the second act through to the third is explicitly dedicated to doing this, whilst still finding the space to chuck more crossover good times in for our benefit.
I won’t spoil this – even though the cast list will give you a pretty big clue – but it is a credit to director Jon Watts (who has directed all of the Tom Holland era Spider-Man movies) that emotional heft is earned for each thread ended.
The Holland era was rejuvenating to the character, in large part to keeping the emotional stakes light and youthful. School, romances, friendship, and grades have played a big part.
However, after the events of previous movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home sees Peter lacking the usual fatherly advice figures, which in turn gives Holland licence to bring his range to the screen as Peter starts to spiral in the second half.
Zendaya as MJ and Jacob Batalon as Ned form a tight trio with Tom Holland (Uncharted) and a vital ingredient in the rebooted franchise’s success, but Holland has been the perfect casting throughout and it is a joy to see him lean into some darker territory here.
Undoubtedly No Way Home is geared to be most appreciated by those who have watched literally every other Spider-Man film since 2002. That it does this with such deft skill (whilst also not excluding newcomers) is not to be taken lightly.
If this is the last we see of Holland slinging webs then it could not have been a better send off.
If a contractual cleaning of house between Marvel and Sony (the latter of which owns the character) results in a corporate web-removing duster getting swept through the rafters, then the bar has well and truly been set for whatever arachnid scuttles back to rebuild them.
Words by Mike Record
Spider-Man No Way Home Cast
Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. In this film, he faces the aftermath of his identity being revealed to the world and enlists Doctor Strange's help to erase this memory from everyone’s mind, which will forever alter the multiverse.
Zendaya as Michelle “MJ” Jones, Peter Parker's love interest.
Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds, Peter’s best friend who assists him in his adventures.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange the Sorcerer Supreme, who helps Peter Parker to make people forget Spider-man's identity so he can return to normal life.
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn / Green Goblin, a menacing villain with superhuman strength and intelligence.
Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus, a brilliant scientist with mechanically powered, tentacle-like appendages that give him superhuman abilities.
Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon / Electro, a villain with the ability to generate and control electricity.
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker / Spider-Man from The Amazing Spider-Man series.
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, the original Spider-Man from Sam Raimi’s trilogy.
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, former bodyguard of Tony Stark, and a supportive figure in Peter Parker’s life.
Marisa Tomei as May Parker, Peter Parker’s caring and supportive aunt.
Tony Revolori as Eugene “Flash” Thompson, who is known for his admiration of Spider-Man but often bullies Peter.
Who Are The Villains In Spider-Man: No Way Home?
The movie features several powerful villains who've been in previous Spider-Man film franchises, including Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) from Sam Raimi’s series.
There is also Electro (Jamie Foxx) and The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man series.
Do Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Appear In The Film?
Yes, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their roles as Peter Parker/Spider-Man from their respective Spider-Man film series.
They team up with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to stop the multiverse villains and find a way to return to their respective universes.
Is There A Post-Credit Scene?
Yes, Spider-Man: No Way Home features two post-credit scenes.
The first one sets up future developments for Tom Holland's Spider-Man and the second new post credits scene is a teaser trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
How Does The Movie Impact The MCU?
This film has significant implications for the MCU. The movie explores the concept of the multiverse, introducing characters from other Spider-Man film series.
It also sets the stage for future multiverse-centric films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
More importantly though, it addresses themes of identity, responsibility, and consequence. All of which could have lasting effects on Peter Parker's own future in the MCU.
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