A swing and a miss

Delaney Rosenblatt, Staff Reporter

Let’s be honest. Marvel fanatics and aficionados all have a weakness for compelling Marvel Studios films because of their undeniable likability and nostalgic characters. Unfortunately, the recent “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has weaknesses. 

In order to fully enjoy any other Marvel movie, viewers will only need minimal knowledge of other films. This is not the case for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” as viewers needed to watch both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies, as well as “Spider-Man: Homecoming”, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Doctor Strange” in order to fully understand the plot and overarching concept of the Marvel multiverse. Marvel movies are appealing because viewers can jump into the story and follow along fairly easily, but “No Way Home” strayed from the easily comprehensible plots.

Complex plots inevitably lead to plot holes, which are prominent throughout the movie, the first being when Doc Ock disappears for a large portion of the movie after he is cured by Peter Parker. Norman Osborne, also known as Green Goblin, then gives a compelling speech for the other members of the Sinister Six who attempt to defeat all three Peter Parkers. The newly moral Doc Ock goes with the Sinister Six, leaving viewers to question how well Parker’s initial cure worked. However, when the Sinister Six return to fight the three Spider-Men, Doc Ock helps the trio, making viewers unsure of his true motives. This careless writing takes away from the stunning performance Alfred Molina gives and distracts from the overall plot of the film.

During the first end-credit scene, viewers see Eddie Brock, known for his alien counterpart Venom, asking questions about the Avengers and Thanos, but we assume that Brock and the Sinister Six ended up in the current universe because they all have knowledge that Parker is Spider-Man. An explanation is provided as to why Brock ended up in this universe, because symbiotes have a hive mind, therefore Brock, who is connected with Venom, somehow has the shared knowledge of Spider-Man’s identity. Not only is this a confusing and lackluster explanation, there are other characters whose presence is not explained. In Maguire/Garfield’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, Electro, a villain played by Jamie Foxx, never learned Spider-Man’s true identity, so there is no real explanation as to why he is in the current universe.

Apart from the obvious critiques in the movie, there are many stylistic choices that I disagree with. Aunt May’s death happens way too early, and the entire sequence feels dark and lackluster when compared to other Marvel fight scenes. Yes, May’s death was completely necessary in order to push Parker to become the hero that he needs to be, but killing off such a beloved Marvel character so early in the movie was not a smart idea.

In addition, Parker’s longtime friend and mentor, Happy Hogan, had a minimal part in this film, which is concerning because Hogan is a fan favorite. I felt as if he was pushed to the side, treated as the comic relief, and not featured enough, especially because we do not know when he will return. 

Following the poor writing from previous directors, actors Rhys Ifans and Thomas Haden Church, The Lizard and Sandman respectively, phoned in their performances, having digitally recorded their parts, letting CGI do the rest of the work. Many fans have been wondering why these two villains have such limited screen time. This is because Ifans and Church had scheduling conflicts, so producers reached an agreement, allowing the actors to provide the voice for their characters, without being on set. This provides an explanation as two why both of these villains fall victim to lackluster motivations.

Finally, I detest the idea that “No Way Home” will win the Oscar for Best Picture, or even secure a nomination in the first place. High grossing, blockbuster films like most Marvel films are not usually nominated for Best Picture, let alone win. The only Marvel movie in the entire fifteen year span of films that was nominated was “Black Panther,” which was far superior to “No Way Home” in terms of plot, writing, effects, and performances.

Despite the pitfalls, this film is full of compelling and interesting characters that make the film worth watching. It is a necessary addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and explores the life of the only teenage Avenger. The age and naivety of Spider-Man offers a performance without all of the regular stressors of adult life, but it becomes clear that Parker is maturing. 

With many possible situations coming from the result of Dr. Strange’s final spell, Marvel fans are left unsure about what the future of their favorite friendly neighborhood superhero will be. In fact, the ending of “No Way Home” does not directly set up any future film, with the exception of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which Holland is not expected to star in. This won’t be the last time we see Spider-Man, but maybe he should take a much needed break.