The Monthly Bugle

Spider-Man No Way Home and the Power of Time


I’ve been in love with the idea of Spider-Man since I was a little boy. The young, curious, and witty demeanor of Peter Parker, mixed with the wise-cracking quips of Spider-Man, held me tightly as I navigated the woes of middle school adolescence. “With great power comes great responsibility” echoes in my mind when I’m asked to think about what it means to be a human being, and I periodically imitate the action of web-slinging whenever no one is around (or when they are, I don’t care really). I saw the second Tobey McGuire Spider-Man film with my grandpa when I was ten, I saw the Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man when I was eighteen, and Tom Holland Spider-Man when I was twenty-two—I practically grew up with the movie adaptations of Spider-Man just as much as I did first reading his comics when I was eight. I’ve articulated my love for the webbed hero time and time again, so much so that I even received the affectionate nickname of “Spidey” from my loved ones. So, it should come as no surprise that, for the premiere of Spider-Man: No Way Home, I was in attendance for the Thursday night premiere in December.

No Way Home, the third installment of the MCU Spider-Man franchise and the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, continues the story set forth by Tom Holland’s previous cliffhanging romp in Spider-Man: Far From Home. With his identity revealed and Mysterio successfully framing him as a murderer, Peter enlists the help of Dr. Strange to reverse the revelation only to screw the situation up further and open up Earth-616 to the wondrous machinations of the multiverse—a concept that the heroes “know frighteningly very little about.” From there, all hell breaks loose—but in the best way possible. 

Serving simultaneously as a continuation of the MCU storyline and paying homage to the cultural significance of Marvel’s premier hero, No Way Home brings characters from Sam Raimi Spider-Man and Marc Webb The Amazing Spider-Man, including Doctor Octopus, Electro, and of course Green Goblin. While these reveals were amazing (even though you found out they were in the movie through the trailer), the real amazing multiversal bombshell came in the form Spider-Man royalty: Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as Spider-Men from their respective universes. 

While this moment has enormous implications for the MCU moving forward, I couldn’t help but get lost in Marvel’s magnanimous motivations; a mind-numbing moment melding three critical moments of my life into one two-hour showing of magic. The unification of the three Spider-Men was a strange out-of-body experience that allowed for a moment of retrospection as I sat enamored in my Regal Theater seat. I thought about my grandpa and how none of this would mean as much to me if he had never given me that comic book. Even more profound than that, I began to ponder my journey as a human being and how much I’ve grown. There are a ton of takeaways from the movie—some about the future of the MCU and where it’s potentially headed and others about the myth that is “superhero movie fatigue—but I consumed that product on a personal level. It was almost as if I was watching ten-year-old, eighteen-year-old, and twenty-two-year-old Marc meet each other for the first time. 

For me, No Way Home was a tale of grief, acceptance, responsibility (of course), and loss. As I watched Tom Holland’s Spider-Man mature before our eyes through the brief mentorship of Tobey and Andrew, it worked like a personal meeting of my past selves. Traumas that I carried over the years dealing with bullying my grandfather dying, growing up in poverty and not feeling like I was ever good enough were put on full display through the three Spider-Men present on the screen; Tom Holland leaned on Tobey and Andrew as he dealt with the loss of his aunt May, Andrew looked to the other Spider-Men as he confronted a sense of existential dread/feeling like he wasn’t good enough. Tobey explained that, for a long time, he felt like it was his fault that Uncle Ben died. The consciousness of the three Peters validated my experiences, my shortcomings and, while I don’t share many regrets with the cinematic web-slingers, I found comfort in the notion that your strength doesn’t come from how physically strong you are but relatively how mentally and emotionally strong you learn to be. No Way Home used the power of time to show just how much we all have in common with these larger than life icons; life itself is already a battle with the Green Goblin, a duel with Doctor Octopus and instead of wishing we had powers to deal with the adverbial nature of our realities, we can choose to harness the powers of compassion, understanding, forgiveness, sympathy and resilience and with that, we all can be Spider-Man.