The big question on everyone’s mind: Do Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their respective roles as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: No Way Home? This question will be answered all in good time.
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As evidenced by Spider-Man: No Way Home now having the second biggest opening weekend box office ever (only second to Avengers: Endgame), viewers were obviously excited for the release of this film. It’s the biggest Marvel movies to come out since the pandemic. The experience of sitting in a movie theater and watching Spider-Man swing around and fight bad guys is one of the simple pleasures that helps bring joy to an otherwise complicated and dreary outlook on life. After almost two years of abnormality, the simple pleasure of feeling like a kid again watching a Marvel movie in theaters is unparalleled. This film should be seen for that reason alone.
As shown in the trailers, Spider-Man: No Way Home has many familiar faces from three different Spider-Man iterations. With big names such as Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx, every scene has enough actor eye-candy for any fan of Spider-Man or movies in general. The most impressive acting feat is the reprisal of these actors who play villains that some of them last played almost 20 years ago. Despite actual acting ability, to see these same actors reprise their beloved roles is satisfying in and of itself. Overall, the acting delivers even if it has some help from the added context of prior movies.
The way that these actors are shot is surprisingly simple at points and complex at others. The entirety of one emotional scene may consist of very basic shots seen in any film or television show, while the next will then have a myriad of computer-generated shots following Spider-Man swing and jump through scaffolding while dodging electricity and water. Sometimes, the shift can be jarring, but that’s to be expected from a Marvel movie. Like all movies under the massive Disney umbrella, the computer-generated imagery is extremely impressive. This film has the unique position of showing off the capabilities of computer generation today compared to computer generation of almost two decades ago, and the improvements are evident.
Speaking of old villains from movies that came out almost twenty years ago, this film does require a lot of “background research” in order to understand it. The main films one needs to see in order to understand the immediate context of this film are, obviously, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from Home. The latter is less important than the former, but still important if one wants the entire story of the trilogy.
Next, one should see the early-2000s Spider-Man trilogy and the two The Amazing Spider-Man movies from the 2010s in order to understand specific backgrounds and references for some of the older villains. Their wants and reasons for becoming villains is assumed by the writers. References are made to their origins and backstories, but they aren’t explicitly explained to the audience in this film.
Finally, for the really invested and passionate fan, a rewatch or first watch of some of the more crucial Marvel Cinematic Universe films would help with some other context as well. Even if one watches all of the Spider-Man movies preceding this one, that Doctor Strange character may be a little, well, strange to viewers who haven’t seen both Doctor Strange and Avengers: Infinity War. The film can easily be enjoyed without any of this background watching, but knowing a lot of the backstory adds multiple layers of enjoyment and inside jokes that would otherwise be missed.
The story itself, even assuming one knows all of the background, can be confusing at points, but a film with a multiverse and twenty years of films building this multiverse is bound to be confusing. It’s one of those films where the protagonist essentially creates the problem that they have to fix throughout the movie. This can make some of the emotional investment difficult at points knowing that the guy the audience is rooting for started this whole mess. This can be forgiven, though, because the reasoning for it all is righteous at its core. For true enjoyment of the film, some of the confusing and unbelievable elements of the film have to be put aside to allow for the simple enjoyment of watching Spider-Man swing across the screen.
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Now, the moment everyone has been waiting for. Do Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprise their roles as their respective Spider-Men alongside their villainous counterparts?
Yes. Yes, they do. Amazingly, Marvel and Sony were able to bring back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to include them in the film as their former iterations of Spider-Man in their respective franchises. The rumors were true. For anyone following the coverage of Spider-Man: No Way Home before the film was released, this comes as just a confirmation of pre-existing speculation. For those unfamiliar with the rumors, it’s a nice surprise for anyone even slightly familiar with the older Spider-Man films. The greatest part of it all is both Maguire and Garfield play significant parts for almost the last thirty minutes of the film. Their appearances aren’t just throwaway references. All three Spider-Men interact in a really satisfying manner.
Ultimately, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a very fun watch and a reminder that child-like fun can still be had at the movies even after more than a year of straight-to-streaming movies. The simple joy of going to a movie theater and enjoying an unashamedly entertaining film which reminds one of their childhood is truly necessary for anyone looking to recapture a bit of that child-like innocence and joy. Spider-Man: No Way Home is definitely worth the watch for hardcore fans and casual filmgoers alike. The action scenes are just as enjoyable whether one has been with Spider-Man since 2002 or 2021.