REVIEW: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” demonstrates how to do fan service right

Already breaking box office records, Spider-Man has once again shown he’s an integral part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe


Image courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Ashton Kroeger, Contributing Writer

This year’s most anticipated film, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” finally made it into theaters December 17th. Marvel fans have been generating hype for this third installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man since the release of its 2019 predecessor, “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

The excitement surrounding this film was heightened with the first teaser trailer which featured fan favorite villains from previous Spider-Man movies. But these weren’t just any villains, Doc Ock from Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man 2” made an appearance as well as a pumpkin bomb famously belonging to the Green Goblin was thrown onto screen while his menacing laugh is heard in the background.

The second official trailer then showed more of these classic villains, but additionally Sandman from Maguire’s universe, and Electro and the Lizard from Andrew Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” movies. This opened “No Way Home” to speculation from fans of what else could appear from these previous renditions. 

Marvel’s newest edition to its cinematic universe did not disappoint at the box office, already breaking records making $260 million domestically on its opening weekend alone. This made “Spider-Man: No Way Home” achieve the second-highest grossing opening weekend, only behind “Avengers: Endgame.”

With this just being from opening weekend, it’s easy to say “No Way Home” quickly climbed to the top of many fan’s Marvel movie rankings. As a Marvel fan myself there were plenty of moments that had my heart racing from pure excitement. However, I would highly suggest if you are interested in what all the craze is about, to familiarize yourself with the past films featuring our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. How you experience the film will only be made better by doing so. 

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” starts right where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” leaves us after the infamous post-credit scene. Peter Parker’s identity is revealed to the world, changing him from an unpopular nerdy high schooler to the most famous person alive. This not only causes problems for Peter but for his best friend, Ned, and his girlfriend, MJ, as well.

While attempting to use a spell casted by Doctor Strange to make everyone forget that Peter is Spider-Man, they accidentally start pulling people in from different universes that also know Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The first of which to appear is Doctor Otto Octavius, an estranged scientist driven mad by his four metal arms he created himself. 

Soon after more classic Spider-Man villains are to follow, and Peter is tasked with finding them so they can be sent back to their universe as instructed by Doctor Strange. Peter quickly learns from the villains that if he were to send them back, most were going to die. And with the advice of his Aunt May, he can’t allow that to happen. Peter then turns his mission into curing all these villains of their ailments, only then does he find it morally right to send them back.

There are many more twists and turns to follow but for the sake of not spoiling too much, I will stop my synopsis there. 

The concept of bringing back these villains has been highly anticipated by fans for years. Having recognized that, it feels as though what Marvel wanted to achieve with this film was to create a love letter to all the Spidey fans out there. Thankfully they did this triumphantly.

This film is filled with references from every Spider-Man film, pleasing not only the audience but the narrative as well. Working these already established villains into a new story successfully. Marvel has been attempting to introduce the multiverse into the MCU for a while now, making it more than just a concept the characters discuss. The Spider-Man franchise and this film specifically was the perfect opportunity to do so. 

This made the movie going experience something I haven’t felt since I saw “Avengers: Infinity War” back in 2018. Having seen it twice opening weekend, both of my theaters laughed and cheered together at multiple moments that we only could have wished for previously. For life-long Spidey fans, it was almost cathartic. 

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was not without foreshadowing, in fact it seemed as if it featured more than the typical amount expected from Marvel films. As any Marvel fan knows, you can usually pick up where little easter eggs are left in their films and now Disney + series that gives you clues as to what’s to come. And “No Way Home” features plenty of that, not only for their individual characters but for the MCU as a whole. 

This only makes what’s to come from Marvel in the future more intriguing. Those well versed in the Spider-Man universe may know what to expect for Peter’s future, however the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is left up to speculation. Even so this still leads us on an exciting storyline for more iconic characters to be introduced. 

“No Way Home” features many prominent stars starting with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Zendaya’s MJ, who are already intrical to the MCU. We also have Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, and Jamie Foxx’s Electro making their first appearances in the MCU. With such big names, I was happy to see that they didn’t outshine one another. 

Everyone worked together harmoniously to continue Spider-Man’s story as well as adding to their own character’s development. With the recent Marvel origin stories taking on well known actors for their roles, it feels as though those big names are outshining the characters (“Eternals” I’m looking at you). This is avoided in “No Way Home” with every actor being able to keep up with their character and one another. You could tell everyone was set to either continue or reprise their character and they all did that flawlessly.

With that being said, Willem Dafoe was definitely the MVP for this film. You could really tell that he enjoys playing his character, the Green Goblin. Having first played this role for the first time back in 2002 with the original “Spider-Man,” it feels as though no time has passed with these two performances. Dafoe has secured the Goblin’s spot as best cinematic Spider-Man villain.

With how many different elements were being added to the MCU’s Spider-Man in this film, I was definitely suspicious on how it was all going to work together. I was afraid those involved with the production of this film would be too concerned with creating those applaud worthy moments for just the fans. Like Captain America wielding Mjölnir in “Avengers: Endgame” or something of that nature. Even though there were multiple of those applaud worthy moments, they never took away from the greater narrative being told. 

I highly suggest this movie to anyone who is a fan of superhero movies, I don’t doubt that you all haven’t seen it already however. Even if you aren’t big into superheroes, giving this newest Spider-Man franchise a try is worth your while. It may open you up to why so many people can’t get enough of these films.

Ashton Kroeger is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @ash.kroeger.