Marvel reaches what feels like the conclusion to the latest series of Spider-Man films with Spider-Man: No Way Home. It's a movie that's hard to discuss without getting into spoilers, so I'll start with a non-spoiler review then warn you when I'm about to spoil a few things.
Peter (Tom Holland) has been unmasked as Spider-Man. Public opinion is split on whether or not he is a hero or a villain after his fight with Mysterio at the end of the last film. The media attention is relentless. Parker also finds college opportunities closed off to himself and MJ (Zendaya) because of the controversy. So he visits Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to get him to cast a spell so no one will remember he's Spider-Man. Peter immediately has regrets and tries to interrupt the spell, but in doing so he causes rips in the universe. As a result, certain visitors emerge into Peter's world (more on this in the spoiler section).
Overall, it's a fun film. The actors are all charming, and Peter's inherent kindness makes him easy to root for. But again, it's hard to talk about the film's virtues without spoilers, so if you want to see the film in a theater (and yes, I recommend you do as it should be seen on the big screen with an audience) without spoilers, then stop reading now.
I'm serious. Spoilers coming.
The preview revealed that Dr. Otto Octavius from Spider-Man 2 confronts Peter. So a reasonable person could then guess that other franchise villains would also appear. They do. The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) also appear.
But that's not the end of it. Also coming through the cracks in the universe are the Spider-Men from the previous two franchises (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield).
Much of the film's fun comes from the characters' fish-out-of-water confusion over their circumstances, both the villains and the heroes. Maguire and Garfield also remind viewers that they're both charming actors and were both good as Spider-Man. Garfield even gets the film's most poignant moment in a callback to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a film I mostly disliked). The film's meta, self-referential humor could've come across as cutesy and annoying, but it generally works here in large part because of the actors.