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BYUH students marvel over the latest superhero flick 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'

A photo of Spider-Man on a metal pole. His hand is blurry and stretched out.

Disclaimer: this article contains spoilers from the film.

The nostalgia of bringing back actors from earlier Spider-Man movies is one of the reasons BYU–Hawaii students said the latest movie in the series is a success. “I think it’s anyone’s childhood dream come true to see people they grow up with, role models or superheroes reunite together,” said Ian Carroll, a freshman from Waianae, Hawaii, who is majoring in psychology.

In the fourth week of its release, Marvel’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” surpassed the “Titanic” and became the sixth highest-grossing film of all time, with a revenue of $668.7 mil-lion, according to Jamie Lovett on the Comic Book website.

With all the rumors circulating about the film, Adon Eccles, a sophomore from Live Oak, California, majoring in business management, shared the film lived up to the hype people expected. “That’s what everyone wanted. Everyone wanted a movie like that. And they’ve delivered it in a really good way.”

Familiar faces

Amidst the fanfare, says Andi Ortiz on The Wrap website, certain fan theories were manifested, such as the return of former Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. In “No Way Home,” Ortiz shares, Dr. Strange enacts a spell that pulls in characters from previous Spider-Man films, including both Maguire’s and Garfield’s versions of the spider-hero.

Carroll said it was nostalgic watching three of them [Maguire, Garfield and Holland] together and how old they are now.

Belle Pulido, a freshman from San Diego, California, whose major is undecided, said the film united the different generations of Spider-Man and families and communities who grew up watching the different Spider-Man franchises. She said she grew up watching the earlier Spider-Man movies but didn’t consider Spider-Man one of her favorite heroes until she watched “No Way Home.”

“Watching them [Maguire, Garfield and Holland, ] all together helped me to appreciate their differences and brought back the nostalgia that I didn’t realize I had,” she said. She added that Maguire’s and Garfield’s entrance generated a “roar of verbal excitement from the crowd.”

Eccles said he enjoyed watching the three generations of Spider-Man and his classic villains all in one movie. “I had seen all of those characters before, but [I got] to see them again and also see them leveled up in a way where it’s like you’re going to see something new from them.”

Having watched Maguire’s and Garfield’s films, the movie celebrated the character of Spider Man, said Kaleb Montgomery, an undeclared sophomore from Mesa, Arizona. “It shows how important of a character he is to people.” He said seeing the same actors reprise their roles is exciting for those who’ve grown up watching the Spider-Man films.

With great power...

Beth Spackman, a sophomore from Eagle, Idaho, majoring in intercultural peacebuilding, said Holland succeeds in portraying every emotion out of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. “Tom can be comedic, lighthearted, goofy and romantic, but he can also portray being brokenhearted.” His portrayal, she shared, allows people to sympathize and understand his character.

Holland’s Spider-Man was very selfless, said Macey Cobabe, a sophomore from Sacra-mento, California, majoring in painting. She shared how he resolved the issue at the end of the film by getting rid of his fame, which Cobabe said reminded her of Christ giving all the glory to Heavenly Father.

The film puts Peter Parker on the same path as in the comics, said Montgomery. “A lot of people don’t like this version of Spider-Man because he’s always using Iron Man’s technology. ... Spider-Man in the comics is usually on his own and has to only rely on himself to solve all of his problems. So, I think fans of the comics will be excited for his future movies because he no longer has Iron Man’s technology to help him.”

For Carroll, the death of Aunt May was the saddest point of the film, but he admired her motherly role that influenced Holland’s development of the Peter Parker character. “She was gone, but she would always be with him no matter what. She knew that what she instilled in him would always live with him.”

In this scene, Aunt May’s dying advice was a version of the famous line, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” However, as Nicolas Ayala from Screen Rant points out in an online article, “No Way Home” employs the exact line as found in the captions of the final panel in “Amazing Fantasy #15,” a 1962 comic book: “With great power, there must come great responsibility.”

Ayala writes, “It makes sense that ‘No Way Home’ brought back the original line, as the movie serves as a bookend to nearly 20 years of live-action adventures for the web-slinger.”

Cobabe said she also adored the relationship between Holland’s Spider-Man and Aunt May. “Even though she didn’t have powers, she was still first to support him, ... and Peter wanted to make her proud.” It was heart-wrenching when Aunt May died, she commented, as she and Peter shared a strong relationship with each other. ... His love for her was very strong, and it made me feel like I wanted to be there and help. It was very special.”

Eccles shared his admiration for Maguire’s and Garfield’s characters mentoring and com-forting Holland’s Parker, who lost all of his family up to a certain point in the film. “They obviously have lived a lot more of life, and they are and were Spider-Man too.” In one scene, he shared, Maguire’s Spider-Man stops Holland from killing the Green Goblin. Having experienced the death of his uncle and wanting revenge, Maguire’s Spider-Man helps Holland realize that killing the Green Goblin wouldn’t be worth it, said Eccles.

Humanizing the villains

Diana Velasquez, culture editor of The Pitt News, explains in an online article that when the multiverse opened, villains from past Spider-Man films entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in search of Peter Parker. These villains include Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock), Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman from Maguire’s films.

In addition, Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Rhys Ifans as the Lizard from Garfield’s films.Montgomery shared his admiration for the Green Goblin portrayed by Willem Dafoe. “You could just tell he gave it his all, like he was right back into the character from the original movie.” He said Dafoe’s role is more menacing towards Holland’s Peter Parker who has no idea who the Green Goblin is.

Dafoe portrayed the Green Goblin/Dr. Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man film, featuring Maguire, in “what is arguably one of the most iconic villains” in the world of Spider-Man bad guys, says Preeti Chhibber of Polygon.

Carroll said that the film managed to portray a more humane side to the villains. He shared examples such as the Green Goblin being psychologically troubled and the Sandman who just wanted to return to his family. In the 2002 Maguire Spider-Man, Dafoe’s character was a scientist who tested a human performance serum on himself that alters his personality becoming the Green Goblin.

“At first, Norman doesn’t seem to be aware of the things he’s doing as the Goblin, but once he does, ... he leans all the way in,” says Chibber in the Polygon article. In “Spider-Man 3” the Sandman, or Flint Marko, was an escaped criminal trying to find money to save his sickly daughter. While evading the police, he fell into a particle accelerator that fused his body with sand and he became the Sandman, explains Chhibber.

Like Carroll, Cobabe said the film sheds light on the villains’ backstories and why they became the way they are. “It was interesting how you don’t know what people want from their looks. You have to get to know their heart.”

Pulido shared she enjoyed the concept of the villains being redeemed and given a second chance. “Villains can be saved. Sometimes as seen with many of the characters in the movie, they needed someone else to assist them in fixing their mistakes, otherwise they’d be stuck forever or even die.”

Unlike most superhero movies, “No Way Home” focuses on Holland’s character helping the villains turn from their evil ways, Nicholas Brooks of CBR News shares. Each of the villains sought for direction or purpose in their lives, says Brooks. “As a result, they often learned how cruel fate could be by turning into beings who were as unstable as they were powerful,” he adds.

He uses the example of Doc Ock, who was corrupted by his own invention that he intended to help humanity.Redemption for Andrew GarfieldDespite not being well-received for his movies, Garfield’s Spider-Man finds redemption in this film through saving Zendaya’s MJ character, said Eccles.

At the end of Marc Webb’s 2014 film, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Garfield’s Spider-Man juggles battling a supervillain and saving his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone. He shoots a web to save her as she falls but is too late as her back hits the concrete.

In “No Way Home,” Garfield’s Spider-Man shares his grief and rage from failing to save his girlfriend, Eccles explained. Later, Garfield’s Spider-Man saves Holland’s girlfriend, played by Zendaya, in a very similar situation. “You finally got to see the best version of him [Garfield’s Spider-Man],” said Eccles.

Pulido added Garfield’s Spider-Man saving Zendaya’s MJ from falling was a redemptive act for the character. “It felt like everything was tied up and complete.” An HT Entertainment article says Garfield explained this particular scene is what brought him back to star as Spider-Man. “The actor said he wanted to do the film only if his part had something meaningful to do, which this scene brought on.”

Garfield shared that his character got to save Holland’s romantic relationship, the HT Entertainment article says, which healed the trauma from the character’s failure in his previous Spider-Man film. “I am so grateful I got to tie up some loose ends for the Peter I was playing,” HT Entertainment quotes Garfield as saying.

Delivering on the hype

Montgomery said watching the film was a “wild ride.” He continued, “I was happy, and it’s just like really satisfying. I’m excited for the future of Spider-Man.”

For Spackman, the movie balanced action with humor, which she said made it enjoyable to watch. “Sometimes if there’s too much action, I kind of zone out.” She said seeing three generations of Spider-Man and the multiverse made it enjoyable and simple to understand. “I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the Avengers, and everyone being in the same movie, and there’s just so many plots going on.”

Pulido added, “It got me emotional to the point where I felt like the biggest advocate for the film.” She said her favorite character was Ned’s mother Lola, who reminded her of her own Filipino family. “

Her [Lola’s] response was something I could see any of my aunties say and her expression of it. I think facial expressions or body language can be culturally derived to an extent. I appreciated that it was pretty accurate or relatable.”

The future of Marvel

Spackman described the film as quite the “rollercoaster of emotions.” Although Holland’s Spider-Man was able to solve the conflict, she said, his family and friends no longer know who he is. Spackman expressed wondering what will happen to Holland’s Spider-Man in future films. She shared that the post-credit scene was exciting in knowing that Doctor Strange is returning for a sequel film.

According to HT Entertainment, the end scene acts as a trailer for “Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness,” coming in May 2022. In this post-credit scene, says HT Entertainment, Doctor Strange confronts Wanda from “WandaVision,” also known as the Scarlet Witch, and consults about the multiverse.

Another post-credit scene depicts Venom, played by Tom Hardy, leaving behind a piece of the symbiote, hinting his possible presence in the MCU, HT Entertainment adds. Velasquez from The Pitt News says this film marks a “tentative end” for Holland’s run as Peter Parker. Despite MCU’s plan to include him in future roles, Velasquez explains, Holland expressed he’d be willing to step away from the role as his trilogy is now complete. No matter what happens to him, Velasquez concludes, “He’ll always be our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”