NO SPOILERS. YOU'RE SAFE!
With Spider-Man: No Way Home in the theatres, Tom Holland has now officially become the longest-running Spider-Man of all time. This is his 6th time portraying the web-slinging teenager from Queens, New York and dare I say, Marvel has finally got it right.
Make no mistake, the previous films in the Spider-Man trilogy were good movies as well, especially in the genre they were in and served their purposes in telling the story Kevin Fiege wanted to tell leading up to Avengers: Endgame and the aftermath that ensued. But they were not Spider-Man movies, not really.
It was a popular notion that Marvel had turned Tom Holland's Peter Parker into a joke, a corporately created bootleg version of Tony Stark; the prodigal son to the eccentric billionaire and heir apparent to all the technology money could buy.
No Way Home drops that reality on its head. It allows Holland to showcase his acting chops in this very emotional and gut-wrenching story, that eventually lands him where we always knew Spider-Man belonged - a working-class hero with a secret identity, shuffling between college, jobs and rent. Just trying to do his best.
And while the first half of the film does pull you towards a familiar world of MCU redundancies, it keeps you interested with a very cunning use of nostalgia. It gives you moments where you get hyped up every time you see someone familiar on-screen, but at the same time, makes you wonder what's next. It relies on that predictability to draw both Peter Parker and you into a sense of security, only to snatch it away right at the interval.
The second half of the film is where the meat is. It's once you are done eating through the deep-fried chicken skin, you truly get what you paid for.
It is an emotional barrage of gut-wrenching moments that just don't seem to end and you finally get a sense that we are seeing the Peter Parker from our childhoods.
The film makes its main characters i.e, Ned, M.J, and Peter age a decade in the span of days, be it the media scrutiny from being identified as Spider-Man's friends or their own personal traumas that are rooted in Parker's now revealed identity.
Most MCU films are often mediocre, formulaic and just can't stand without the support of films before them. They tend to fall apart in the third act, even the good ones, often overcompensating with the decadence of CGI-fuelled action sequences.
Spider-Man: No Way Home breaks that mould. Peter Parker's proverbial departure from the mainstream MCU or the Avengersverse is shrouded in drama, an uneasy decision, perhaps mirroring the executives who made it. But it's done regardless because it was necessary.
Even the big CGI fights have a lot of heart and meaning, something the MCU has lacked since Avengers: Infinity War. It gives its three main leads a lot more space to act and be their own characters.
Even Dr Strange who had been the face and voice of the trailers has spaced out appearances allowing Parker, for the first time in a long time to grow up, to make his own decisions and deal with the consequences himself.
It's hard to feel sympathy for a genius with superstrength, agility, and an inbuilt warning system when he's a billionaire. But No Way Home humanises Spider-Man. It tells the story of a teenager with too much power just beginning to understand the responsibility that comes with it.
Go watch the film, it's the best MCU movie in 3-4 years and it definitely is the best live-action Spider-Man movie of all time.