God, I love Spider-Man No Way Home

This is going to have spoilers on a very successful movie that got a love of coverage.

I watched it again in Imax, and it remains really good.

If Into the Spider-Verse was a big statement on Spider-Man, this is a statement on Peter Parker, which is one reason it works so well when the other Peters show up. It is very clearly about several things, like the desire to have it all, and the realization that you can’t.

There’s an argument that we have a dearth of films set in the present because of the ubiquity of smartphones, which filmmakers haven’t figured out how to incorporate into stories. But this may just have the best use of smartphones in film in a lot of clever ways.

It is a big film, and relatively long for superhero movies, but there’s no fat.

Obviously, the classic villains work. But I do like the conflict with Doctor Strange, where we see the differences between the two heroes. Peter Parker is a middle-class kid, so he wouldn’t consider asking a college to reconsider a decision. Dr. Strange is an Ivy League educated world-class surgeon, so he won’t take no for an answer. Strange would consider the larger stakes, and be willing to sacrifice lives, and Spider-Man will never make that call.

One note is that my favorite Spider-Man villain is the Lizard, and there’s an argument that he’s the least important of the bad guys in the movie. But this takes the whole theme of the cost of trying to save the bad guys to an entire movie, plus I love seeing him fight the Maguire and Holland Spideys.

It retroactively made some of the earlier films better. Amazing Spider-Man 2 got a satisfying payoff. One of the issues with Spider-Man 2 was that it had some of the plot beats from the first one, but when you had Molina’s Doctor Octopus and Defoe’s Green Goblin in the same room, you could see that these are different villains.

It is ironic that the villains who had satisfying deaths steal the show. One of the biggest problems of the Raimi films (the way the bad guys weren’t able to return) becomes an advantage here, as it becomes part of the story. Doctor Octopus is great, although Willem Defoe’s Norman Osborn steals the show, going from a decent antagonist in the first Spider-Man film to one of the best movie supervillains ever. Two things from the comics this movie does very well is show Norman Osborn as a sudden source of chaos, who keeps messing things up for the heroes, and a side of Spider-Man that’s in some of his best comics, but that we really haven’t seen in film, an angry young man with great power, where the danger isn’t that he may die but that he’ll do things that are so nasty he may lose his soul in the process.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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