Unlike Disney and their recent run of maddeningly politically correct Marvel movies, Sony’s new Spider-Man respects fans by giving them all they could ever want.
This article is entirely spoiler-free.
In preparation for seeing the highly-anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home, which stars Tom Holland and premiered in theaters Friday December 17, I rewatched Holland’s two previous Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming(2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
I found them to be even worse than I vaguely remembered. Far From Home in particular is just abysmal. I share that thought only to give context for my thoughts on No Way Home.
When watching a Marvel movie, one must temper their expectations. You know going in that you’re not going to see cinema on the level of Citizen Kane but rather an attempt at mainstream entertainment designed to maximize profit above all else.
The question then becomes not if Spider-Man: No Way Home is a great piece of cinema, but whether it’s a good piece of popular movie making.
Having witnessed the movie the verdict is clear, Spider-Man No Way Home is not Citizen Kane, but it sure as hell is a phenomenal, nearly perfect, piece of pop entertainment.
I believe the best way to see this movie, and I definitely think you should see it, is to go into it knowing as little about it as possible, so I’ll refrain from writing about the plot or even the cast. Instead, I’ll try to describe why the movie works so well without ruining it, or even tainting it, for anyone who hasn’t seen it.
Let’s start at the beginning of this current run of Marvel movies.
Since Marvel’s twenty-three movie Infinity Saga, which began with Iron Man in 2008 and concluded with Avengers: Endgame in 2019 (Marvel claims it ended with Spider-Man: Far From Home but that is nonsense), came to a close, the Marvel movie behemoth has been creatively and financially floundering.
Part of the reason for that is the post-Endgame Marvel movies have often been more interested in preaching from the woke gospel than in entertaining their audience.
For example, Black Widow was little more than a middling movie designed to be a stiletto to the groin of the patriarchy.
Eternals, which boasted both a gay and a disabled superhero, was a miserable misfire of a movie dedicated to ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ over coherence and entertainment value.
Shang-Chi was half of a good movie, but it too was riddled with a limp girl power narrative and empty woke sloganeering.
Disney, which owns Marvel, has obviously gone all in on the woke stuff, and that is reflected in the majority of their films and TV shows.
It’s important to note that while Marvel is owned by Disney, and Spider-Man is a Marvel character, he is not entirely owned by Disney. Sony actually owns the film rights to Spider-Man.
In 2015, Sony came to an agreement with Disney that allowed Spider-Man to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and both studios have benefited from the arrangement. But the deal is clear, Sony finances, distributes, and has final creative control on all the solo Spider-Man movies.
As explained earlier, the Sony-produced Tom Holland Spider-Man movies haven’t been particularly good, but unlike the Marvel/Disney movies, they thankfully haven’t been aggressively woke either.
Which brings us to Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is entirely dedicated to fan service and obviously only cares about giving audiences what they want, as opposed to doing what Disney does, which is giving audiences what Disney wants them to want.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is devoid of woke preaching or virtue signaling, and aside from a well-executed running joke that makes fun of Alex Jones and Infowars, there’s no cultural politics in the movie at all.
Instead, Sony delivers a deliriously fun movie that hits all the beats and delivers all the goods. No Way Home is so chock full of goodies for fans it’s nearly bursting at the seams and so gloriously deferential to fan’s desires one wonders how Sony or Marvel can ever follow it up.
Part of how the movie succeeds is that while being deliciously fun and funny it also takes itself and its subject matter seriously. For instance, the film is really about consequences and the permanence of consequences, so every action Peter Parker takes in the film has consequences that desperately matter.
The movie doesn’t try to have it both ways, it doesn’t short shrift its story or undercut its power by softening the edges, it commits to its reality and narrative and sticks with it through thick and thin.
The result is easily the best Spider-Man of the Tom Holland era, and also easily the best Marvel movie post-Endgame. Where it lands on the list of all-time Spider-Man movies and all-time Marvel movies will vary wildly from person to person, but I think it’s safe to say it’s at the very least in the conversation for the top spot in both categories.
No Way Home is set to make anywhere from $150 million to $240 million at the domestic box office on its opening weekend (potentially nearing $400 million worldwide). From my anecdotal observations I think the higher end of that projection is very likely. That is an astonishing amount of money for any movie to make, but when factoring in the pandemic and some people’s reluctance to go to a movie theater, it’s all the more astounding.
As Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s good to see Sony profiting by using its great power responsibly by giving fans what they want with the terrific Spider-Man: No Way Home. Disney/Marvel would be very wise to learn the same lesson.