A spoiler-free ode to Spider-Man

‘No Way Home’ exceeds sky-high expectations

Ashley Pelletier, Arts & Life Editor

I’ll admit, Spider-Man was never my favorite superhero. 

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ pays homage to almost 60 years of history for the beloved character. Photo from Gemma Ryles via TrustedReviews.com

My parents weren’t big on superhero movies when  I was growing up, and I didn’t get into them myself until 2014. 

Over the past seven years, I have watched all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies but never went back to the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” trilogy from the early 2000s or the 2012 “The Amazing Spider-Man” duology. I had seen bits and pieces of both, but never took the time to sit down and watch them. 

For me, Tom Holland’s iteration of Spider-Man was my first proper introduction to the character. I loved that he felt like a real high school student because he was introduced in 2016, right in the middle of my high school years. I was used to seeing 30-year-old actors playing 16-year-old students, and it was a nice change of pace. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who played the hero in the previous installments, both were in their mid-20s when they first played Spider-Man while Holland was only 20. 

Following his first appearance in “Captain America: Civil War,” I continued to enjoy the MCU Spider-Man in “Homecoming” and “Far From Home.” I loved how Holland’s Peter Parker was complemented by Zendaya’s MJ and Jacob Batalon’s Ned Leeds, but most importantly, I loved how director Jon Watts made this Spider-Man trilogy both a superhero flick and coming-of-age story. 

Of course, I saw that not everybody loved this new version of the beloved hero. Some preferred Maguire or Garfield, but most could agree on their love for Spider-Man. 

Regardless of which Spider-Man you prefer, you can’t deny that “No Way Home” was an incredible homage to the character that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created in 1962. 

Appearances from villains from both previous installments made for an exciting story and compelling setup for “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx all gave great performances that made five villains feel less overwhelming. 

I also loved the return of J. Jonah Jameson, played by J.K. Simmons. In this film, The Daily Bugle was based on InfoWars, with Jameson paralleling the controversial Alex Jones, which was a great form of comic relief. 

I wish we got more of the dynamic between Doctor Strange and Parker in this film. It is there, but not nearly enough for my taste. However, I think that would risk making Spider-Man a secondary character in his own movie, something that “Homecoming” and “Far From Home” both fell victim to with Tony Stark. 

While this film brings back flashes of the past, it also looks to the future for Spider-Man. “No Way Home” leaves so many opportunities for stories, especially since it was confirmed Holland will reprise his role beyond this trilogy. 

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed “No Way Home.” Without spoiling anything, it’s a wild ride, and it strips Spider-Man to the core of the character and what he represents for so many people, including myself.  

I went into the movie with a moderate amount of hype, but social media users expected the world out of this film. I think it’s safe to call all those expectations met. 

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what Parker does next. 

My biggest recommendation is that you see “No Way Home” in theaters. I saw it on opening day and the energy in the theater was something I had not felt since I saw “Avengers: Endgame” in theaters in April 2019. There was clapping, cheering and more as people shared their love for Spider-Man.