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HomeFeaturesReel Take‘Spider-Man’ is a nostalgia-soaked tribute. Superheroes need not be killing machines

‘Spider-Man’ is a nostalgia-soaked tribute. Superheroes need not be killing machines

With great power comes great responsibility — for Spiderman and Marvel. ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, starring Tom Holland and Zendaya, is fan service at its best.

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If you have been away from theatres since Covid forcefully entered our lives, Spider-Man: No Way Home is exactly the film for which you should break from your close to two-year-long abstinence. For the first time since the Earth’s mightiest heroes came together to defend the universe in Avengers: Endgame in 2019, here is an ensemble cast that offers a theatrical experience for ages and is fan service at its best.

It’s feel-good, and a millennial nostalgia trip.

Although the trailer gave away the basic premise and seduces you just enough to get your hopes up, but the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe offers so much more. And cinema halls are booked.

The movie picks up right where its prequel Spiderman: Far From Home left off, a world where the devious Quentin Beck a.k.a. Mysterio has revealed Spiderman’s identity — hello Peter Parker — and falsely accused him of murder. As anger erupts among people and Daily Bugle — a notorious tabloid turned web channel — fans the flames, Peter Parker struggles to adapt to being the most famous person in the world. His reputation costs him, his best friend Ned Leeds and girlfriend Michelle “MJ” Jones a shot at the prestigious MIT. He seeks help from none other than MCU’s Sorcerer Supreme a.k.a. Doctor Strange but a botched-up spell paves way for the multiverse to open, and a plethora of supervillains (and some pleasant surprises) from the Spidey pantheon enter from alternate realities.

It’s Spiderman past, present and future in one movie

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When they met…

In the run-up to the release of the third instalment in the Spiderman franchise, speculations were rife about former Spiderman(s) — Tobey Maguire (of Sam Raimi’s 2002, 2004, and 2007 releases) and Andrew Garfield (of Marc Webb’s 2012 and 2014 editions) — uniting with 2021’s friendly neighbourhood superhero Tom Holland from the Jon Watts-directed trilogy.

Maguire and Garfield’s introduction scenes in the film received the biggest applause in the cinema hall — as did their banter about producing webs from their hands. But this is a 2021 movie made for millennials — superheroes are no longer unemotional saviours. Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield aren’t buff Spidermen with macho energy — they are conflicted, have shortcomings, and believe in second chances, even for villains.

There are plenty of heartwarming and funny moments of the three web-slingers teaming up, a trait Maguire and Garfield are oblivious to. At one point during a high-voltage action sequence, the three huddle at the top of a “new and improved” Statue of Liberty to review their poorly-coordinated moves when Holland says he knows a thing or two about working in a team as he has been an Avenger. The other two have no clue who the Avengers are.

Another moving sequence comes when the senior-most Spidey stops the youngest from killing Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and gets stabbed in the back by the supervillain himself (a hat tip to Raimi’s tradition of the unappreciated underdog who always does the right things but often gets punished for it).

Unlike most superhero films, this one is not about killing antagonists. On the contrary, Spiderman wants to catch hold of these terrifying creatures like Pokemons, ‘fix’ what went wrong with them, and send them back home to their universe.

Later towards the end of the movie, as the three Spidermen hug each other, the audience has mixed feelings — some have the loudest cheer while others get teary-eyed seeing a moment that may never see again on screen.

One also wonders if the movie works for newer audiences — those who haven’t been following the series and won’t relate to the nostalgia overdose.

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‘With great power comes great responsibility’

As Aunt May dies in Parker’s arms (Holland), she introduces the six words in the MCU franchise that have defined Sony’s Spiderman franchise for years — “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Much like this catchphrase Uncle Ben said almost 20 years ago, throughout the two-hour and 28 minute-run, the film seems aware of the responsibility it has taken on. The weight of Herculean expectations of millions of fans — the ardent comic readers and casual movie-goers combined — cannot be easy to endure both for the superhero and the studio.

On one hand, the superhero is driven by his aunt’s morality as she encourages him to give second chances to people. On the other hand, after 18 months of a pandemic, Jon Watts and Kevin Fiege know the responsibility they have taken on. This film happens to be the last instalment in the Sony-Marvel Studios merger. Sony holds the rights to the Marvel character since 1985 but had allowed Spiderman to be used in MCU films. They concluded the emotional cinematic experience on a high.

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