Last night I went into Spider-Man: No Way Home expecting I knew most of its twists and turns, given weeks and weeks of leaks and spoilers slipping out about the movie ahead of its release.
That was…pretty much exactly correct. I did know pretty much every surprise the movie had in store.
I’d seen the leaked shots of Matt Murdock sitting around Peter’s kitchen table, giving him legal advice.
I’d known that despite the actors denying it dozens of interviews, that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men would join their universe’s villains and appear in the film.
I’d heard the rumors that someone important would die in this movie, and the theories that it was Aunt May, with our Peter finally facing an Uncle Ben-style tragedy. And that’s what happened.
Hell, I even guessed we’d get a funny Venom post-credits scene with Eddie Brock missing all the action, and that was right.
The biggest “surprise” was getting a full Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness trailer as the final, final post-credits scene.
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And yet, knowing most of this, it didn’t matter. Spider-Man: No Way Home was still excellent, and I enjoyed myself immensely.
For Matt Murdock, it was still a great scene, and the brick through the window moment was excellent. His appearance got a big audience pop of Netflix fans.
But that pop was nothing compared to the arrival of Garfield and Maguire, which had the crowd cheering. Even if I knew they were coming, it’s not like I’d seen any actual footage of them interacting. The writing across the three of them was fantastic, and I’ll give extra Kudos to Andrew Garfield in particular who seemed to be having a blast with his reprisal. And knowing they were coming did not prepare me for the emotional devastation of Garfield’s Peter getting to save Tom Holland’s MJ the way he couldn’t save Gwen in his own universe. Heartbreaking. From this point onward, the row of girls next to me did not stop crying until the movie was over. I do not blame them.
Aunt May’s death was beautifully handled by both actors, and did not feel cheap or forced. This time, credit goes to Holland for taking a scene we’ve seen across three Spider-Man movies now and making it his own, and it led into a great moment of palpable rage against Green Goblin in the final fight.
The movie is just so good that even knowing the big surprises couldn’t ruin it. Marvel was smart to hide what they did, as even if the “facts” could be known, knowing someone appears and seeing how they appear are two different things entirely, and the movie did manage to slip in a few more surprises, like the entire concept of healing the villains which resulted in bizarre but lovely things like a friendly Otto Octavius.
No Way Home is indeed an unquestionable masterpiece of the MCU, not just full of great action and fun nostalgia, but with a genuine exploration of rage, grief and forgiveness. And the ending, in which Peter sacrifices everyone in his life to save the world, is honestly one of the most devastating finales we’ve ever seen in the MCU, almost too dark for me, though we know Spider-Man will return someday.
I was annoyed I’d heard so much about No Way Home going it, but it simply didn’t matter. I hope you can be like the audience I watched with, the spoiler-free crowd who were genuinely surprised at every turn. But if not, it’s still an exceptional film, and one of Marvel’s best.