The review contains spoilers for Spiderman: No Way Home, reader discretion advised.
The film starts as eerie music plays, revealing the disaster left from the previous film, Spiderman: Far From Home (Jon Watts, 2019). For Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his world is turned upside down as his identity as Spiderman becomes public knowledge. Seeing how any association with him has cost his friends their futures, he seeks the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to reverse the damage of the world knowing Peter Parker is Spiderman. The spell Strange performs goes awry, propelling those from every universe who know Peter Parker is Spiderman into their own. When these uninvited quests start pouring in from other universes, we can think of who, across infinite universes, knows Spiderman to be Peter Parker. This does come with the later discovery of Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spiderman 1 & 2) and Tobey Maguire (the original Spiderman trilogy), we also get to experience the villains their Spiderman have faced with their own franchises respectively.
Strong actors are what make and break a good story. Of course, stellar acting cannot make up for a poorly written script. When it comes to NWH, the story and the pacing works in the actors’ favor and both the acting and story work to create a film that is character focused. By the end of the film, their universe is about to implode as an infinite number of people flood in. With stakes so large, it can be hard for audiences to grasp and relate to the scope of the situation. In many superhero movies, those kinds of stakes remove any emotional tension to be had for its story. NWH manages to show the ‘saving the universe’ plot on a smaller, more relatable scale by focusing more on the relationships and goals between characters.
A lot of smart choices have been made when it comes to how previous Spiderman properties would be referenced throughout NWH. This story could have easily been oversaturated with reference humor or exposition dumps in order for old Spiderman fans to enjoy the film while also making the film understandable for those who haven’t watched the other Spiderman trilogies. The balance between appealing to old fans while adapting to new ones is one of this film's unique challenges. Since Tom Holland’s Spiderman has never met these villains before, viewers who haven’t been introduced to these characters will be in the same situation as the film’s main character. While older fans can have a deeper appreciation for these characters and their background, there is no vital information that is missing for those who are watching a Spiderman movie for the first time. From beginning to end, each moment of the film is introduced just enough to be enjoyed by any viewer.