By: Bella Trafton
“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” directed by Jon Watts, has broken many box office records making it the highest-grossing film released by Sony Pictures, along with becoming the 16th highest-grossing movie in history. In terms of box office success, the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU has been wildly popular, creating 30% of the revenue in the North American box office in 2021, and not for no reason.
In “No Way Home,” actors Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon dazzle the screen from start to finish. While it is hard to describe the chemistry and relationship dynamic between the three characters without spoilers, one thing is clear: they are a central part of what makes audiences connect with the film. Holland’s Peter Parker is the all-American teenage boy: young, naïve, and full of awkward, boyish charm. Holland’s Peter is relatable to audiences because of his ability to portray Peter as a regular kid, even though his abilities are anything but regular. Zendaya plays Peter’s girlfriend MJ Jones. The budding romance that we see take place between MJ and Peter is just the right amount of bittersweet young love, and it creates motivation for Peter.
In the movie, Ned Leeds, played by Jacob Batalon, is more than just “the guy in the chair.” Through witty and playful dialogue between Ned and Peter, we are able to see Ned’s comedy shine, while providing guidance and support for Peter. Batalon’s performance included some long overdue Filipino representation during a scene with his Lola (the word for grandmother in Tagalog). When strange characters arrive in their apartment, Lola hilariously comments on them in Tagalog with the help of Ned translating. This was a major moment for Filipino audiences as Tagalog (one of the native and most common languages of the Philippines) was used in conversation and without subtitles.
A common critique of Marvel movies is that they are often formulaic. Martin Scorsese equates many Marvel movies not to cinema but theme parks. Although these remarks can be used to describe many Marvel movies, “No Way Home” had a much more cinematic feel. While the movie lacks a nomination for a Best Picture Academy Award, the movie made up for it with a cinematography nomination for cinematographer, Mauro Fiore. Awards or not, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a well-written, mind-blowing cinema experience, creating a feeling that everyone should experience.