Spider-Man No Way Home Already Gives me Flashbacks to the Mistakes of Spider-Man 3

Hello Interwebs! I love me some Spider-Man. But the web-head’s upcoming movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home, appears to be repeating serious mistakes from the hero’s theatrical failures. Read on to learn why No Way Home already has me worried…

Spider-Man is one of fiction’s most resilient characters! Seriously– how many characters command such a devoted fanbase, even when they’re royally screwed up in almost every iteration? It truly boggles my mind how Spidey has stayed such an icon with such an abysmal track record. The 1990s were particularly rough

But maybe that’s part of ole’ Spiderman’s charm in a meta-textual way. Peter Parker is an unlucky guy who can’t catch a break, just like most of us. The core ideas of his story are so universally beloved and ingrained in our society that we’re more likely to feel bad for the character when he gets another flawed adaptation than we are to stop buying Spiderman content.

Still the higher-ups at Marvel, and Disney, and Sony never seem to learn their lessons! Yes– Spiderman should always catch bad breaks– but they should only be in his stories, and not because the people developing his brand don’t know what they’re doing.

Let’s skip all the way back to 2007 when Spiderman 3 brought the Spiderman movie franchise to a grinding halt. Though often considered “the holy trilogy” amongst its fans, Sam Raimi’s Spiderman movies (particularly the third one) are not immune from criticism. Among Spiderman 3’s greatest flaws was that it tried to accomplish too much in one film. Having Peter go up against Harry Osborn Green Goblin, the Sandman, and Venom, letting the symbiote feed off his worst impulses, ruining his relationship with Mary Jane, etc. You get the idea there.

Spooderman Flashcards | Quizlet
Sam Raimi (metaphorically pictured left) working with Sony (metaphorically pictured right) on Spider-Man 3

The first Amazing Spider-Man movie seemed to be a solid course-correction for the franchise, paring the concept back down to a manageable level. But then Amazing Spider-Man 2 gave us multiple villains again, and tried to shoe-horn in a Sinister Six crossover movie, and it was an even bigger mess than Spiderman 3! You’d think the executives at these movie studios would have learned their lesson by now, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely…

*Spoiler alert for Spiderman: Far From Home in following paragraph*

That brings us up to date with Tom Holland and the modern Spiderman movies! So far things have been good. Holland’s Spidey has avoided those overstuffed plots of yesteryear. And Sony wisely opted to keep stories like Into the Spider-verse and Venom separate from Holland’s Spiderman (for now). Plus Far From Home‘s ending leaves Spidey’s future MCU movies with tonnes of plot potential. At FFH’s story’s conclusion, Mysterio reveals Peter Parker’s identity to the world and frames Spiderman for murder. That’s a great hook for a new story!

Yet the news reports around Spiderman 3 (No Way Home) have me worried. NWH looks to have enough plot for a whole trilogy of tales– and what little I’ve heard doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the last film. We haven’t even had a trailer yet and we’re hearing reports of cameos galore! I don’t want to spoil anything here in case you don’t follow movie news but I will say this: most of said cameos only make sense if No Way Home‘s plot is an adventure through the multi-verse (which will probably be broken open sometime during Loki). But how are we supposed to have a plot like this and make worthwhile use of Tom Holland’s supporting cast and adequately follow-up Far From Home‘s excellent cliffhanger? I don’t think it’s possible.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the movie does somehow pull off a satisfying jaunt through the multiverse and successfully pay off Far From Home‘s ending, and (possibly) bring back other versions of Spiderman. I still have a problem with those concepts in principle! At least, I have a problem with that being the plot for this particular movie…

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb
Can’t Tom Holland just be his OWN Spider-Man already??

Many Spiderman fans (most of my friends included) had complaints about Tom Holland’s version of the character right from his introduction to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War— the most common concern being that he’s too interconnected with Iron Man’s story. Maybe you’ve heard Tom Holland mockingly called “Iron Boy Junior”… Spiderman’s fanbase was particularly offended that Tony Stark appears to have more emotional influence over this version of Peter Parker than Uncle freaking Ben!

I naively thought Spiderman: No Way Home would finally address those concerns and feature a fully-independent Spiderman, making his own way in the world (finally out of Iron Man’s shadow). I expected Spidey to be a fugitive from the law, trying to clear his name and cope more generally with fallout from the previous film. So far those assumptions aren’t looking even close to correct…

It looks like Tom Holland finally creeped out from Iron Man’s shadow only to find himself under the even larger shadow of past Spiderman films. Let’s say they do bring back Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield as some rumors suggest. On the one hand, I’d enjoy seeing Tom Holland’s Peter Parker being mentored by an older version of himself (from another universe) but this is his third movie. Can’t he stand on his own two feet as a hero at this point? Does he need more adults telling him how to be Spiderman?

Spider-Man No Way Home trailer hints at Doctor Strange plot hole
Spiderman and MJ in the No Way Home Trailer

You know why Spiderman was such a brilliant concept back in the day? Apologies if you do because I’m about to tell you anyway… Spiderman was unique in the early 1960s because the notion that a teenager could be an independent superhero was novel. Almost every young crime-fighter from the 30s to the 50s was a sidekick of some sort. But then came Peter Parker, relatable social outcast and nerd, granted great power… and using it super irresponsibly as most teenagers would. He became a professional showman and tried to make a profit off his powers. But, with the death of Uncle Ben (which was indirectly his fault), he finally learned that lesson synonymous with the Spiderman mythos: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Disney, Sony, and Marvel studios had better keep that motto in mind when developing the next Spiderman film (and ones beyond it)! Peter Parker means a lot to a lot of people and they just want to see him get his due. I don’t doubt those companies like the character (and the millions of dollars he makes them) but they need to handle him responsibly! And that means giving the character some much needed independence– at least for one movie.

I’ve enjoyed the direction this MCU sub-franchise has taken thus far. It’s refreshingly different to Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield’s movies. But said direction has also been stifled in many ways by pandering to the greater MCU. So far it’s more of a successor to the Iron Man franchise than a uniquely Spiderman story which happens to be set in the MCU. It’s insulting that Peter Parker has been treated like a teenage sidekick when Spiderman is the character who broke the mold for teenage sidekicks…

NOTE: Neither Maguire or Garfield have been confirmed for the film. So if you think I’m spoiling things, I’m not… probably.

Tom Holland could easily be the definitive take on the character if he gets a chance to be. And the first step to that end is letting his character have a corner of the world that’s all his own instead of having him just pick up after Tony Stark’s leftovers– or potentially those of his alternate selves, in the case of No Way Home.

I hope I’m wrong. I really do. Because I want to love this movie! Frankly, I’ll find something in it to like no matter what (because I’m a frequent apologist for my favourite franchises). But evidence of Marvel repeating mistakes of Spiderman movies’ past is growing too big to ignore.

How do you think the MCU has handled Spiderman? If you see this before No Way Home, how do you think it’s gonna turn out? If you read this after No Way Home, how did you like it? Also, if you have any ideas for future articles, or any general questions, let me know that as well. Be sure to like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!

Till next time

Joe Morin

By Joseph Morin

Joe's passion for film and entertainment began at 7 years old when his younger brother demanded to watch Duel of the Fates every day for weeks (on DVD). Joe admired the sequence so much, he decided to dedicate his life to film-making and storytelling. He has a degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Joe loves DC superheroes (especially Superman), the first six Star Wars movies, and arguing about media with anyone who will listen.

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