Just in time for Christmas, Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” delivers a story that combines old school comic book history with modern MCU chronology by tidily gift wrapping the end of Peter Parker’s Thanos snap-delayed high school career, personal growth as a solo hero and Avenger, a tale of loss, multiple cases of redemption, and even the introduction of a possible new street-level ally; everything either a diehard or casual comics fan could ask for or want to put an end to the Homecoming trilogy and introduce Spider-Man as an adult superhero.
Picking up only moments after the second installment of the Tom Holland trilogy, J.K. Simmons, reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson, reveals Spider-Man’s identity and the Daily Bugle’s incessant (and wrong) messaging that he’s a villain. This leads to Peter’s friends’ lives being impacted negatively, but it does open up the long-awaited introduction of Charlie Cox as attorney Matt Murdock representing Peter, Aunt May and Happy Hogan. Charges are avoided, but the misery starts piling up for those closest to the main character, which leads Spider-Man to use his super contacts.
Peter seeks out fellow New Yorker and Avenger, Dr. Strange, for assistance. Marvel brings back the time-tested comic book device by using the Multiverse to bring back individual heroes and villains from the dead and it works perfectly in the MCU. However, the spell cast goes awry, and gateways open that allow individuals from other timelines into Peter’s reality. And it doesn’t take long before everyone realizes details are amiss and need to be addressed.
Instead of capturing and sending the villains straight back, Peter listens to his better angel, Aunt May, who in this universe utters the iconic line, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This leads to a dispute with Strange and Peter absconds with and tries to fix the broken villains. In turn, and because of Jameson’s incessant meddling, disaster ensues. Meanwhile, the previous versions of Peter Parker arrive, meet up with his current friends, and eventually find this universe’s version of themselves. It takes some time for the three to gel, but the multiversal Spider-Men reinforces the maxim about power/responsibility to the current version before formulating a plan to trap and send the villains back.
During the final battle, Albert Molina (Doc Ock) proves he was never truly a villain, Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) attains a degree of redemption he probably never thought he would, and Tobey Maguire (The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) saves Holland from doing something unthinkable. Unfortunately, when the scene is finished successfully, and the friends have freed Dr. Strange, the spell breaks and the multiverse begins to shatter around them. At that point, Peter (Tom Holland) approaches the sorcerer with what he knows to be the only solution. Strange reminds him of the drastic consequences, but as Peter has now seen action on Earth, in space and across the multiverse, and felt personal loss, he surely realizes what’s best for anyone close to him.
In closing, in a scene that appears to be months later, Peter checks in on his friends to hear them speaking about M.I.T. and he is later seen moving into a small apartment in New York. The apartment is sparse, a desk and sewing machine visible with a few blue and red scraps of material next to an open window. The last shot is of Spider-Man swinging in his handmade suit over the Xmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza as snow falls on the ice-skaters as the closing credit music, “The Magic Number (Too Mad Mix),” by De La Soul raps the audience out and reminds us of the magical quality of the season, and the power of the trinity in several cultures. Hopefully, when we see him next, Peter Parker will be enrolled at Empire State University, like when Spider-Man graced the pages of Marvel comics so many years ago.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is rated PG-13 and is in theaters now. The film also enjoyed a near record-breaking opening weekend, second only to Avengers: Endgame, bringing in $260 million even with the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus surging nationwide. Mask-wearing is advised in most theaters.