Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
When I was growing up, many thousands of years ago, Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” was among the collection of movies that we had on VHS (I actually got ID’d buying it, until I explained that I was only 13 years old and I didn’t carry ID yet). So if you bring back Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker for a movie, and have him share Spider-Man anecdotes with two other Spider-Men, and give him a second chance to save Norman Osborn, and then do a big group hug with all three Spider-Men … look, I’m not saying Tobey did all the work, but “Spider-Man: No Way Home” shooting me directly in the childhood nostalgia with a sniper rifle certainly helped secure its place in my top 10.
Even beyond that, though, “No Way Home” is a really, really impressive movie. I went into it expecting an absolute disaster, given the number of characters in the mix and my lukewarm reaction to “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” As its release date approached, we learned there was uncertainty over which actors would be returning lingered even after production had already begun (as star Tom Holland put it, “You could ask the director, ‘What happens in act three?’ And his response would be, ‘I’m still trying to figure it out'”). This complicated even further the already massively complicated task of not only rounding out Holland’s character arc, but also “fixing” the low notes that Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Men went out on.
How screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna managed to put together a script for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” that wasn’t just coherent but was genuinely pretty great, under those circumstances, is a mystery to me. But they did it — those mad lads really did it!