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Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

The reason Spiderman is the most popular MCU hero as reflected by not one not two but three movie trilogies has always been his idealistic, uncorrupted world view as a teenager and the relatable mistakes , naivete and teenage drama he consistently goes through.

Tobey McGuire embodied this in the original series and Andrew Garfield lent his own distinct take to the character. But Tom Holland has truly elevated the web-slinger to another level (or should I say universe) with a stunning performance in No Way Home that is not just an immensely satisfying film for MCU fans but also great cinema.

As revealed in the trailer, Peter Parker goes into a panic after Mysterio reveals his identity to the world. He approaches Doctor Strange to cast a spell to undo the same, only for the Sorcerer Supreme’s attempt to bend the multiversal divides, bringing all sorts of beings from other worlds into the MCU-verse.

The witty banter between Peter, MJ and Ned continues to be the bedrock of the franchise and director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers never lose focus on that despite the immense source material and astronomic fan expectations they were given to manage.

Enter Alfred Molina as Dock Ock, Willem Defoe as the Green Goblin and a menagerie of the greatest villains of the Spiderverse converging on New York to turn Peter Parker’s world upside down. Dafoe is the greatest living actor not to win an Oscar and the seasoned thespian delivers a jaw-dropping performance as the cult antagonist, becoming the perfect counterweight to Holland’s compelling lead performance.

Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch and Marisa Tomei deliver heart-touching performances to really elevate the film, which also features some of the most imaginative and cutting-edge CGI work the MCU has ever seen. Surprise cameos and guest appearances generate whistle-worthy moments in the theatre and this is one movie you definitely don’t want to miss watching on the big screen.

The fact that the writers managed to tie in easter eggs from Wanda Vision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and even Hawkeye and set up things for upcoming Phase 4 villains while bringing in a completely difference Marvel-verse from a competing studio (no points for guessing) is nothing short of sheer brilliance.

Despite the enormous set of content threads and characters director Jon Watts had to work with, he ably ensures each one gets requisite screen space and enough depth to make every performance in the film a memorable one.

Ultimately, No Way Home is a fitting third act to the best Spiderman trilogy ever made. The villains continue to be what defines the classy MCU movies from the rest. While Tony Leung in Shang Chi and Willem Dafoe in No Way Home shone and captivated audiences, the fact that the Black Widow and Eternals did not resonate as much with audiences can be directly attributed to their lack of well-written, impactful antagonists.

The villain-building should reach another level as we head deeper into Marvels Phase 4 with Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor expanding on ‘Karl Mordo’ in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness and Jonathan Majors returning as ‘Kang the Conqueror’ in Ant Man: Quantumania. But it is going to be Oscar winner Christian Bale’s entry into the MCU as ‘Gorr the God Butcher’ in Thor: Love and Thunder that I am most looking forward to, combined with director Taika Waikiti’s eccentric writing.

No Way Home is a monumental piece of filmmaking and the best of the Marvel Phase 4 movies so far. Highly, highly recommended!

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