Spider-Man: No Way Home – With Great Power Comes Great Opportunity


There’s no way you haven’t seen Spider-Man: No Way Home at this point. It’s the biggest comic book movie since Avengers: Endgame. Odds are, if there was any chance you were even thinking about seeing this movie, you would already have done so over break. This article is for the people smart enough to watch this movie, yet dumb enough to listen to my opinion on it.

There’s a lot I can say about this movie that’s been said a million times before: that it was great, that it culminates three generations of cinema, that Tom Holland gives a stunning performance. And this is all true. But something that applies to me and not everybody here is that I was terrified for this movie. Here’s why.

POV: It’s 2019 and you just finished watching Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s a tough act to follow Endgame, and the movie is decent but far from the best in terms of Spider-Man. Eventually, you get to the post-credit scene. J.K. Simmons returns as J. Jonah Jameson (quite possibly the best casting of any character ever), and he announces Peter Parker’s secret identity to the whole world. You think, “Wow. I can’t believe they’re going in this direction. Not only is Peter’s cover blown, but he’s also a suspected murderer. I can’t wait for the next one to be a thriller about him being on the run.” But instead, you hear all these rumors about a larger-than-life multiverse movie instead of the grounded drama you were expecting. And you worry they’ll prioritize fan service over a good story.

The trailers don’t help either. They make it seem like these multiversal villains were just randomly brought in by a random magic spell, which makes no sense. In Into the Spider-Verse, the other Spider-Men come in because Spider-Man’s DNA goes into the particle accelerator, so it brings others across the multiverse who have radioactive spider DNA. That makes sense. Also, the trailers feature a throwaway Dr. Strange line: “All of these villains die in their worlds. Fighting Spider-Man.” Which is straight-up false for everyone besides Electro and Green Goblin. Doc Ock purposely sacrificed himself to save Spider-Man’s life, and Lizard and Sandman both survived. This brings me to my second point: I thought this movie would ruin the perfectly written character arcs given to villains like Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Sandman by making them evil again for no good reason.

As soon as I started watching the film, though, all my worries disappeared. The movie masterfully addressed all my concerns and ended up being better than I could have possibly imagined. It treats the villains (besides Sandman and Lizard) with the utmost respect and integrity, honoring their original character arcs and sometimes improving them, like when they gave Electro a personality that wasn’t two dimensional. Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx both sink back into their roles that you can tell they missed playing so much. And oh my goodness gracious, Willem Dafoe. I’ve always lamented what a shame it was that Willem Dafoe practically invented the modern day comic book villain archetype when he ingeniously portrayed Norman Osborn back in ‘02, only for him to be killed off at the end of his first movie. This movie answered my prayers. We get to see him with an even more comic accurate suit, even more spine-chilling facial expressions, and even more zingers, like “Norman’s on sabbatical, honey” or the return of “You know, I’m something of a scientist myself.”


This movie also fully embraces Tom Holland fastening his big-boy pants. One of the biggest criticisms of MCU Spider-Man has been that he relies too heavily on other superheroes, or that his personal issues are too trivial. In this film, Aunt May dies by the hand of Green Goblin, a man Peter mistakenly fought to protect in an attempt to uphold May’s values. Peter learns explicitly that with great power comes great responsibility, and we see this duality in the next scene when Peter’s grizzled face is juxtaposed with a giant video of Jameson blaming the entire event on Spider-Man. It’s the first time I’ve ever physically felt Peter’s pain from watching him. He takes a pretty bad beating in this film, physically and emotionally. By the end, you feel like you and Peter have braved this traumatic experience together, and you’re willing to take on the world with him. Later, when Peter approaches Goblin during the final battle, you can see this tangible, burning rage in Spider-Man’s eyes—far more intimidating than a Venom symbiote or an Iron Spider suit has ever made him.

Now, we have to address the elephant in the room: Benedict Cumberbatch’s wig looked terrible. Just kidding. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield returned as Spider-Man! I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I could, obviously, because everyone knew they would be in it, but it still felt so surreal seeing it for the first time. My fear was that it was going to feel like a celebrity guest star on a Disney channel show, where they’ll go on screen, smile, get tons of applause, and then leave, acting as performative versions of themselves. This was not the case. Andrew got his moment where he was able to save MJ from falling off a building, essentially achieving the second chance at saving Gwen Stacy he never had. Tobey stopped Tom from killing Green Goblin, preventing a younger version of himself from making the same mistake he did when he selfishly wanted to punish his uncle’s killer. This movie is a love letter not just to Spider-Man movies, but to the heart and moral values of the web-slinger.

This movie is not just great because of its central premise; it’s great because of the minute details that make Spider-Man fun. Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil’s cameo as Peter’s lawyer was perfection, Happy inheriting Dumb-E after Tony Stark’s death was adorable, and Peter’s dynamic with MJ and Ned has never been better. That’s why it hits so hard when he has to say goodbye to them. My sister got noticeably ticked off after the sad ending because she didn’t want to see the beautiful relationship disintegrate. Personally, I think it’s the smartest decision a Spider-Man movie has ever made. At this point, Peter is at his absolute lowest. All of his loved ones are dead or have no idea who he is, he has no money, and multiversal amounts of responsibility. We’ve seen MCU Spider-Man grow up in front of our very eyes, to the point where seeing him swing through the city in his new, homemade suit gives us a sense of proud parenthood. I’ve never been more excited for the future of Spider-Man, and that’s saying a lot. The ball is in your court, Marvel and Sony. Don’t mess this up.