I have a lot to say about this movie but most of it relates to spoilery stuff so this will be a short review.
There have been lots of rumours around this film with regard to who might or might not show up in it and of course the online chat has gone bonkers with different theories. Some have turned out to be correct and others not but I will just say this; Spider-Man No Way Home is everything you want it to be but not always in the ways you might expect.
What is known is that several of the villains from previous Spider-Man series turn up to fight Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in this film, all made possible due to some complex multiverse shenanigans (and equally complex contract negotiations no doubt). The Marvel Cinematic Universe have been dancing around this for some time, doing a fake out with alternate realities in the last Spider-Man film before stepping back on it, then teasing Evan Peters as a different version of Quicksilver in the WandaVision TV show after he played the character in the X-Men movies while Aaron Taylor-Johnson originally appeared as him opposite Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda. This all came to nothing though. Then in Loki it all kicked off properly with the barriers between different universes properly being introduced shortly before they all came crashing down, all of which lead to What If…? which took the idea and properly ran with it. This is the first time, allusions to the possibilities in Endgame not withstanding, that it has played out properly outside of the TV shows though.
As soon as this was announced with Jamie Fox’s Electro’s involvement, returning from Andrew Garfield’s last Spidey film, it became clear that rather than the Spider-Man movies being constantly rebooted as we had all thought, they were in some respects all part of the same ongoing story. I have to say, that is a brilliant idea that has excited me from the start. Alfred Molina then came on board as Doc Ock and Willem Defoe as Green Goblin, the two bad guys from the second and first Tobey Maguire movies respectively. There are a few other returning characters here but I won’t say who. This is the MCU of course so this is not unusual; aside of the Captain America and the Avengers films Chris Evans has also appeared in a Thor, an Ant-Man, the Captain Marvel and a Spider-Man movie. Each cameo here is a particular treat though. I thought seeing Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin turn up in Hawkeye this week (making Netflix’s Daredevil show canon) was thrilling enough but I was wrong. Better appearances were in store. It still isn’t clear how J. K Simmonds returning as Jonah J. Jameson from the Maguire movies fits into this though. I’m not sure which universe he’s from.
With all of this though, the key players from this series still feature properly. Tom Holland remains the star and this is definitely the best that he has been in the role. Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, as MJ and Ned, also feature prominently, the former possibly more so now that she’s become quite a big star. May and Happy are back too, one of whom has a surprising role to play in events.
For the Marvel faithful then, this movie is a joy. There were moments here that made my geek heart swell almost as much as Luke Skywalker walking in at the end of The Mandalorian. Even for the uninitiated the film is fun though. The characterisation is delightful, the story highly engaging and the action sequences fun. The inclusion of Doctor Strange in the story also brings more of the spectacular kaleidoscopic imagery from his film. To think that Sony, who still own the rights to Spider-Man, almost shut down the business relationship with Marvel Studios before they made the most epic webslinger movie yet. As it is they have found a way to bring the partnership to its fullest potential.
Anyway, come back here later and we’ll get into the other stuff. For now, you’ve got between one and eight films to watch depending on how deep you want to go. This new one will be the first Spider-Man film where you’ll be wearing a mask more than they will but it’s definitely worth the trip.