Great responsibility, great delivery

Julia Hubbell, Entertainment/Opinions Editor

It is no exaggeration to say that the world has shown a lot of love to “Spider-Man: No Way Home. Spider-Man fans around the world, myself included, flocked to theaters on Dec. 17 to see the third movie in the series. With high hopes for the film’s plot and cameos, there were massive amounts of pressure riding on the film’s success. Surely enough, I strongly believe that not only did this movie exceed expectations, but did so in such a way as to provide fans with what they wanted, while simultaneously developing Spider-Man’s story and leading to a gateway of possibilities to be explored in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Seeing as there are three on screen adaptations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s iconic wall-crawler, fans had been speculating about an on screen Spider-Man crossover for years. As the MCU has evolved, opening up the concept of the multiverse, these once outlandish dreams became more realistic hopes with the announcement of the most recent adaptation. I would be lying if I said that I did not enter the theater crossing my fingers for appearances by both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Though there were leaked set images and other pieces of solid evidence pointing to Maguire and Garfield’s cameos, the feeling I experienced as I watched them emerge on screen can only be described as surreal.

As a fan of Marvel’s Netflix series “Daredevil,” I was also hoping that Peter Parker would find himself in need of some expert legal guidance. Again, this film delivered, intricately incorporating Matt Murdock into the story. While this likely led to slight confusion for movie-goers that had not watched the show, it was a nice nod to fans that had been invested in Murdock and his heroic escapades.

I was also impressed with the movie’s ability to properly develop the plot and characters through such a jam-packed film. I was expecting the plot of the movie to lack in some areas, which would be made up through a series of big cameos. However, this was not the case. Through the scene that caused me many tears, the death of Aunt May, we finally hear Spider-Man’s famous motto uttered to Tom Holland’s Parker: “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” Through the use of this line, combined with the death of Aunt May, it was clear to me that Director John Watts had just made a large distinction from the other two Spider-Man series. An iconic phrase usually uttered by Uncle Ben, a character in which only received roughly 30 minutes of screen time prior to his death, the audience naturally feels more emotionally impacted through May’s death, who had a significant role in the previous two Tom Holland adaptations. More importantly, this line usually signifies the moments in which Parker truly embraces his identity as Spider-Man. For Holland’s Parker, this means that his first two movies should now be viewed in a vastly different light. Through the use of this line, Watts essentially made “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” into Peter’s origin stories. Through his loss and the passing of those iconic words of wisdom, the MCU Peter Parker is now officially prepared to assume the full mantle and responsibility of being Spider-Man.

While there are certainly valid critiques of the film, some of the most common ones seem illogical when looking at the grand scheme of this movie. One of the most frequent complaints I have heard is that it requires viewers to watch many prerequisite films to enjoy it. However, this argument falls through as it disregards the very thing that sets Tom Holland apart from his predecessors: his inclusion in a larger cinematic universe. The Maguire and Garfield Spider-Man adaptations were not a part of the MCU. Holland however, is included in a universe that is beyond his character exclusively. This same critique, said about any other movie in the MCU, is irrelevant. Imagine someone complaining that they have to watch “Avengers: Infinity War” before seeing “Avengers: Endgame.” This movie follows a logical progression of the films that come before it. The only real necessities are the first two films in Holland’s Spider-Man trilogy, and possibly “Doctor Strange” to fully appreciate the “magical” aspect of the film. Viewers are in no way required to watch the other Spider-Man movies to understand this one, but their experience with other adaptations of Parker only helps to enrich their experience.

Overall, this movie faced lots of pressure to deliver, and it did. The cameos satisfied the desires of the audience, while not taking away from the plot or characters they had already spent two films developing. What really set this movie apart, however, was its ability to completely reshape the audience’s perception of the MCU Peter Parker thus far. With a fourth film confirmed and another trilogy allegedly in the works for Holland, I cannot wait to see what becomes of our beloved web-slinger.