Okay, so I'm gonna start this one off with a bit of the film's development history. During the production of 'Homecoming', a third MCU 'Spidey' film was already being looked at. Sony and Marvel were negotiating to work on this film together, but by August, 2019, Marvel ultimately left the project. Fans found out how they can't play nice, and once again, we kinda sorta won with our voices - like that time we needed 'Deadpool' to have a hard R rating.
Just one month later, a new deal was struck, and they said "look, we have fans, and fans actually equal money, and we'd be stupid not to hear what they're saying." On top of that, they actually had a solid opportunity to deliver something really good, and make yet more cinematic history by combining their efforts. And with 'Spider-Man: No Way Home', it all seems to mean two things. One, the tug-of-war is finally over, and two, it leaves quite a bit of possibility open for the upcoming three new movies Holland has signed on for. It's my hope that he'll eventually pass the torch to a young Miles Morales, but we'll see.
I'm going to keep this review spoiler free, as this is still quite fresh, and absolutely riddled with spoilers. By the way, do yourselves a favour if you haven't seen this yet and avoid doing any research on IMDb or Wiki, as a lot of these spoilers are revealed. It's like trying to navigate a minefield at this point, so I say, see it ASAP - but please be safe about it! Anyway, the short of the plot, you already know with the spoiler. In the last movie, MJ (Zendaya) found out that Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is Spider-Man, but then by the end, so did everyone else because of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) and his big mouth. This movie picks up immediately after that final scene.
As a result of this, Parker locates Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and tries to get him to cast a spell that will make people forget that he's Spider-Man. However, during the casting of the spell, Parker causes a distraction, and causes Strange to accidentally open up the multiverse, sending in several characters from the "Raimi-verse" and the "Webb-verse". It's not long before Spidey finds himself facing off against some strange characters that he doesn't know, but they somehow know him. Can Parker take on a multiverse, hopefully with some help from Doctor Strange?
There's plenty more to it, but again, the spoilers are so much that I've even left several names out of the "Character Appearances" list. But all you really need to know here is that this is probably the 'Spider-Man' movie that 'Spidey' fans have been waiting for. This one is another piece of MCU history, in which Sony and Marvel actually made peace and said "let's work together, because fans deserve more than our rivalry". I don't pretend to know what this means for the future, entirely, but by the end of the movie you get a pretty good idea.
It's hard to believe, but we're up to MCU title #27 now - already fourth in the series that follows 'The Infinity Saga'. I will admit that 'Black Widow' and 'Eternals' were a bit underwhelming, and 'Shang-Chi' was really good, but still playing with an "unknown". As soon as any aspect of this leaked, it was about getting the other ones out of the way - especially 'Eternals'; speaking for myself, there was never any real draw for that. But as soon as a trailer dropped showing us Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), we were discussing all of the possibilities that could be in this movie. Excitement for an MCU flick hadn't hit me that hard since 'Endgame'.
There's honestly so much more I want to say about this, but still want to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. So, I'll say a few little things I appreciated about it that round the film out into sheer awesomesauce were use of effects and camerawork that add to the excitement of a story that is, indeed, very on-par with 'Spider-Man' comics we all know and love. I also really have to give it to the performances here! Things end up getting pretty damn dramatic, and I really think that some of these characters are absolutely in love with their respective roles. And the costume design here? *chef's kiss* BEAUTIFULLY DONE!
Anyway, instead of rambling on and on about everything I loved about it, what about some criticism? I think any real criticism I do have about this movie amounts to personal nitpicks, and things I might have done differently if I were in charge. But I honestly went into this figuring there would be things I might not like about it. Again, sheer nitpicks on my part. As far as I'm concerned, this movie took the past 20 years of 'Spider-Man' and made a small 'Endgame' out of them. I had an amazing time with this, and sort of consider it an early Christmas present for us holding onto hope in these hard times. I have to sit on it for a little while, but we have a potential new personal fave as far as MCU movies go...
MID-CREDIT SCENE: We see Sonyverse's Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) having a drink and chatting with a bartender about the MCU's events involving Thanos. This is briefly before he's sent back to his home dimension - without leaving the bartender a tip.
POST-CREDIT SCENE: First look at 'Multiverse of Madness'