Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

How was No Way Home and what does it mean for the future of the MCU?


Photo courtesy of @Sony on Instagram

After watching Spider-Man: No Way Home, I wanted to break down what I thought the themes of the movie were and what it means for the MCU going forward. This is not a plot review, but it does contain spoilers, and you will have to have seen the movie to understand it. Additionally, I recommend watching Hawkeye and Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus to better understand my MCU portion of the review. 


Themes of Spider-Man: No Way Home 

Spider-Man “No Way Home” is a fantastic movie full of fanservice, good characters, great scenes and meaningful (nostalgic)  moments. Although it’s easy to walk away excited about the characters and comic book elements we’ve just watched, I think it’s important to consider the moral story that Jon Watts has presented us with. This movie questions the very concept of a hero and how the actions we make define our morality. While Tom Holland’s Spider-Man makes a variety of morally correct choices throughout the movie’s 2.5 hour runtime, each of these choices are ultimately the wrong ones. These errors end up leading to death, misidentifying the intentions of his opponents, and threatening the fabric of the universe. Holland’s Spider-Man is a selfish “hero” whose decisions lead to failure. He spends the film making the wrong decisions for the right reasons and reckoning with what that means for him and the people around him. At the end of the movie, he chooses to spare MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) from his re-introduction into their lives, breaking the promise he made to MJ; yet another ‘wrong’ decision for a right reason. Another example of this is Peter’s decision to leave the villains in his universe to attempt to save them. Perhaps the morally right decision, but it resulted in so much decimation. 

In a movie of cinematic crossovers, nothing stood out to me more than the characters. 

My two major takeaways are centered around the characters of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man and Jamie Foxx’s Electro. Andrew’s Spider-Man had the most heroic quest, coming to terms with his own “lame-ness”. He saved MJ, Tobey’s Spider-man and accepted his own simplicity. Accepting who he was and making amends on his past errors makes him the MVP of this film. As he finds new connections, does his part in saving the day, he exits the MCU after coming to peace with himself and his villains. In terms of the TASM movies, I think excellent talking points are how Peter gives Curt Conners the equation he needs to transform himself into the Lizard, as well as the redemption of how he failed to save Gwen (TASM 2). When he saved MJ, her falling sequence is meant to mirror when Gwen fell to her death in TASM 2. 

Electro deals with the same realization. He wonders who he is without his powers, and threatened with being without them says “back to being a loser.” Characters that may have been underdeveloped in their own movies are done a lot of justice by this film. They are all respected and given the kudos they deserve. They all grow and accept who they are as Watts drives home one of my favorite themes of the movie: being content with yourself. I love the minor theme of regularity—that making big decisions does not define who a character is. This film throws into the spotlight what it means to be mundane. How decisions when defined by right and wrong will never be right, as over-scrutinizing what happens is inherently flawed. One must allow themselves to define right and wrong for themselves, and take acceptance of those choices—doing what’s right, even if it’s wrong. When the heroes attempted to make decisions off of what they thought the world would view as right, they struggled. It was when they made their own decisions, allowing their own views of right and wrong to take the driver’s seat, they won. It’s paradoxical, yes. Confusing, certainly. What I love about this movie the most is how every character makes choices and is thrust into the spotlight as they deal with what they lead to. As the Lizard said: “there are always consequences.” 


Looking Ahead for the MCU:

One of the results of having interconnected movies like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the manner in which fans look to the next movie as soon as they finish the last one. This Spider-Man movie does leave a lot of potential for the MCU, which the studio did not wait at all to reveal. The end credit scenes have become such an iconic and integral part of this universe. This post-credit trailer scene typical in any Marvel film presented views into the next big movie: Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (MOM). It seems likely that Dr. Strange will be the new face of Marvel, given his presence in the most recent (and most successful) Marvel movies: Infinity War, Endgame, and No Way Home. Strange and Wanda will take on the multiverse in this film, a concept which, as put by Strange, “we know frighteningly little about.”  Spider-Man still has a lot of impact to have, however, with another Tom Holland trilogy on the way. Licensing issues and the crisis of his identity leaves little to predict, but I’m hoping for a very comic-book-ish, gritty Spider-Man where he fights street criminals. After the impacts of the multiverse seem to be cleared up by the end of No Way Home, fans are left wondering what the multiverse actually means for the universe. Is it possible that characters from other universes can come into the MCU and stick around? No Way Home suggests that any multiverse character that comes will be gone by the end of the movie. And although the MOM trailer reveals very little, it appears that the multiverse will be a huge part of the future of the next MCU phase, Phase 4. The multiverse awaits. Aside from the multiverse, I wonder, who are our next big stars? 

The question posed after this movie and recent Disney+ shows is the identity of the Avengers. Who are the Avengers for the MCU going forward? In the past, the ‘Big 3’ of Marvel (Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor) were the obvious faces of the universe and the characters which every movie and story likely threaded towards. However, with 2 out of 3 of those characters gone, fans are left wondering what the future holds for Marvel. Due to licensing issues, it’s difficult to determine how much Spider-Man the MCU will actually have, but aside from him, the obvious faces of the next phase are Wanda and Strange. Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) team also seem to hold a big part. However, none of these characters are really Avengers, so let’s look at the possibilities. Sam Wilson’s Captain America slash Falcon character and Bucky’s Winter Soldier seem like an obvious place to start. Their Disney+ show has set them up as the next big-name Avengers. Additionally, the Hawkeye show on Disney+ seems to have set up 2 characters to take up the mantles of former heroes. Yelena will likely fill the role of Natasha Romonoff’s Black Widow and Kate Bishop will likely be the successor to Clint Barton’s Hawkeye. Those four with Strange and Wanda will make up what I believe to be the bulk of who the Avengers will be in the near future, with characters like Shang-Chi, Wanda’s children, Ant-Man and Captain Marvel remaining close and preparing to be the future of the universe. The upcoming GOTG movie with Thor will be the MCU’s space stories while movies like Eternals continue to develop the fabric of the universe as a whole. My predictions are this: Marvel will use the characters of Disney+ shows as well as the upcoming Doctor Strange movie to be the Avengers of current. As they continue to build up the side characters in their solo movies and develop what the universe is in the background of their stories, the MCU looks to go in a new path. Will we see a Thanos-level unifying threat anytime soon for a colossal Infinity War/Endgame-esque crossover anytime soon? Probably not, as we don’t even know any villains which could take on the Thanos mantle. Galactus and Mephisto have been rumored for a long time, but as of now, no official clues. We must wait. Regardless, it looks like we’re going to have plenty of content to consume for the coming years as we prepare for the next phase of the MCU. 

There is also a lot to discuss about  the crossover of Marvel Studios and Sony. The presence of Eddie and Venom in the movie’s cutscenes (both of whom are from the “Sonyverse”), the upcoming Morbius movie (the trailer contains multiple Spider-Man easter eggs, like the poster of what looks like Tobey’s Spidey in the background), and perhaps most significant is the possibility of TASM 3 per fans request. For both Spider-Man, and the MCU, there is so much to look forward to!

Statesman Score: 8.5/10. A fantastically made movie full of moments and nostalgia which leaves lots of excitement for the future of the MCU. 


Graphic by Humza Qazi