Spider-Man: No Way Home Spoilers Ahead! Please, please do not read further if you haven’t watched the film yet.
Every part of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home feels like a love letter to the essence of the character’s empathy and what a neighborhood equates to. And almost everything about it is close to perfect, especially for the fans who’ve eagerly awaited to see these stories come to life and combine in a way that’d honor the universes.
From returning fan-favorite cast members to the current show-stoppers we adore, they each bring to our screens something that’s so profoundly comforting and heartbreaking at the same time, revolutionizing what it means to find a forever kind of chosen family. The way they each fit into this universe as seamlessly as the Spider-Man suit is an indescribable element worthy of constant praise. (Give Willem Dafoe his Oscar already!)
In every way, the performances on Spider-Man: No Way Home are better than anything that we’ve seen on the superhero big screen and that says something considering how explosive Avengers: Endgame truly is. There’s not a single actor in this film whose performance isn’t noteworthy.
All that said, the heart of this film and its beauty through various angles is in the choices each character makes. What those choices mean and how they become a tangible anchor to hold on to are explored with subtle nuances throughout Spider-Man: No Way Home in a way that evokes something extraordinary.
There are various angles throughout the film that can result in lengthy forms of analyses—Peter and MJ’s casual intimacy being one of them, the friendships another, the performances, the humor, the destruction, and the power of a single person’s choice among other things, but for now, the importance of found families shines in a way that’s both crushing and hopeful.
The film’s ending is an unquestionable tear-jerker, but it’s not as devastating as the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. At the very least, it leaves viewers with a sense of hope because nothing is more evident than the fact that these people are in each other’s lives until kingdom come. And with the spell that erases Peter Parker from everyone’s memory comes the opportunity to start with the kind of beginning that’ll likely even strengthen these friendships more.
There’s the matter of the Aunt May of it all—the worst part if we’re being frank because it’s not reversible. It’s the one thing that Marvel won’t go back on because every version of Peter Parker experiences the detrimental loss that shapes the hero they became. But that doesn’t change the fact that May wasn’t just Peter’s world, but she was crucial to all their lives in the kindness she poured through and the hope she instilled with her firm belief that with great power comes great responsibility. It’s the essence of who Spider-Man becomes as a hero, and it’s the force that ultimately guides Peter through his hopelessness in the world that’s about to become far drearier before it gets better. She could also be the tether that binds them all considering Spider-Man’s connection with May is still intact.
Peter Parker x3
We don’t know whether or not the memory spell will stick in the long run, but we do know that no matter how much strength it holds—the three Peter Parkers changed each other’s lives in a way that encompasses what it truly means to choose a family. In a short amount of time, through spidey-senses and Peter-tingles, they brilliantly show the audience that this is a time in their lives that matters considerably.
They each stood fighting for something Peter 3 (Holland) did, but beyond that, in the short time they knew each other, they solidified the fact that they’ve always needed each other. Peter 2 (Garfield) needed this moment to save another life to forgive himself for what transpired with Gwen. He needed the chance to see that his life doesn’t bring chaos or destruction, but instead, it saves a paramount life.
They make it clear that though neither of them has brothers, somewhere in the universe, they are threaded together not only through shared forms of trauma along with their prominent abilities, but because from this battle and beyond—they establish something even stronger, something bigger, and worthwhile.
They tease and learn and fight like hell to ensure that their common goal leads them all to a place where they can come out of it stronger. And that hug. I could write thousands of words on that hug alone and everything that it represents about found families.
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Peter, MJ, and Ned
There are chosen families, and then there’s everything the three of them bring to the table with the unceasing loyalty to each other and the absolute undying love that’s now buried deep within hiding amidst the memory loss. They are a chosen family in every way, and everything that happens in Spider-Man: No Way Home authenticates this beautifully.
Ned and MJ are Peter’s anchors. Where previous Spider-Man adaptions brought in a lot more drama in both love and friendship, the MCU instead harnessed both of them, using them as a strength from Spider-Man: Homecoming and onwards. Where reading between the lines potentially suggests that Ned could at some point turn on Peter (significantly while his memories still aren’t restored), there’s no doubt in my mind that it will not be at the duration or magnitude of Harry’s betrayal. The basis of this story is orbiting around the idea of found families, both with the Avengers and Peter’s own inner circle, and nothing is more transparent than the fact that this story will likely end happier.
There’s such a brilliant, wholesome kind of love between them, partly due to Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon’s off-screen friendship that’s so easily palpable on-screen. Peter, MJ, and Ned love each other fiercely, and they aren’t afraid of showing it. They aren’t afraid of vocalizing it and making it clear that this though two of the three won’t remember this moment, it’s one of the darkest pieces of news they’ve ever received. The shared vulnerability between them ceaselessly acts like a force of strength in a way no superpower could compare with.
It’s details such as MJ and Ned wanting to be by Peter’s side after Aunt May’s death and doing everything they can to ensure he’s okay. They’re by his side no matter the stakes, and that’s been the case since Homecoming. It was never about glory for the two of them, but it was about finding a bond more significant than anything else they could have ever imagined and cherishing it.
MJ and Peter deserve their separate deep dive (they all do, really), but I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it always—MCU does the love story best. And MJ’s fate ending differently than Gwen’s, at the very least, promises that she’s meant to be in Peter’s life. There’s no back and forth between the two of them like in the Sam Raimi trilogy. After Spider-Man: Far From Home, their endgame is more apparent than Peter’s identity even. This is it.
Their love isn’t the kind that’ll run its course and that final moment at the café proves that there’s something deep within as Zendaya and Holland touch on more intimate emotions through the heart they emote—MJ realizes that there’s something about this guy. Something familiar. Something enticing. Something odd even. Whatever it might be. So, whenever Peter chooses to keep his promise and tell them, it might actually be believable then. It’ll make more sense then if he had just said it right at that moment. And say there’s no way for their memories ever to return, but everything that Spider-Man: No Way Home establishes is that wherever they go, whatever they do, the ties that bind them will always be the most potent point of love in their lives.
Tom Holland does such a brilliant job when he brings to life bits of Peter’s love for every single person who crosses his path. There’s a reason he cries, and so many of us are blubbering wrecks alongside him. Because it comes down to the detail that all Peter Parker has ever wanted is to be a part of something bigger than himself. He’s always had May, but everything about Happy and Tony and combining those worlds meant that he and May could have more than their crappy apartment in Queens. His desires were always selfless, understanding that everything could be bigger and more beautiful.
Their lives could be fuller, and though the film ends with him lonelier than ever, in a smaller space than he’s ever known, everything that May and the two Uncle Bens stood for is the idea of found families. The detail that even the concept of a physical home changing for him brings to life the fact that it’s not about the places, but it’s about the people. The idea that greater responsibility also equates to opening your heart to feel the sadness alongside the happiness. It’s why Otto loves Peter 1 (Maguire) so much—why he stood beside them to fight against the Green Goblin. It’s all about belonging and finding the people to belong with. It’s about Electro wondering about a Black Spider-Man and everyone in the theater losing their minds in sheer joy at the mere thought of seeing Miles Morales in live-action. It’s about Doctor Strange’s sadness upon realizing that despite everything they’ve been through together, Peter Parker is still just a kid who’s carrying more than he should.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is about chosen families, and it’s about crystalizing the fact that though it’s dark today, these people are the reason why no one in the universe will ever be lacking love.