There’s more than one moment in Spider-Man: No Way Home that brought me to tears. It’s a rare film that can do that not just in tragic moments, but in the sheer, overwhelming rush of excitement too.

(Note: I’m staying away from spoilers entirely – my synopsis in the next paragraph doesn’t even cover as much as the trailers did, so you can feel free to read ahead unless you want to go into the film totally blind – which would actually be a pretty good idea!)

At the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the dastardly Mysterio’s final act was to frame Peter Parker for the Stark Tech-driven attacks on the world while simultaneously unmasking him as Spider-Man. No longer able to live a normal life – thanks mostly to the relentless J. Jonah Jameson, reinvented as an Alex Jones-esque hawker of conspiracy theories and vitamin supplements – and with his superhero alter ego risking his future as well as that of his close friends, Peter turns to an ally for help. Reluctantly agreeing to assist, Doctor Strange sets about casting a spell that’ll cause everyone in the world to forget that Peter is Spider-Man, but a jittery Peter accidentally causes the spell to go wrong – with multiverse-spanning consequences…

There’s a cameo early on that, in any other film, could have been one of the most memorable and consequential occurrences – yet it speaks volumes about the scale and ambition in what transpire over the course of Spider-Man: No Way Home that it took me a while to even remember that it had happened by the end of the two and a half hour runtime. The characters and action just keeps on coming, with a remarkable sense of escalation that just doesn’t seem to stop. Just when you think you’ve seen it all…well, here comes something else to top it. What’s most amazing is not just that it works, but that it works so well – in a story that could have been incredibly messy, or even come across as a pale imitation of the spectacular animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That it succeeds in feeling entirely distinct is a minor miracle in itself.

That’s before we even talk about just how good the film is at piling itself high with callbacks, quips and references that don’t ever feel like lazy fan service. Everything feels earned, necessary and perfectly placed.

Spider-Man: No Way Home truly feels like a big comic crossover come to life; it’s a Spidey fan’s dream come true. It does something which Marvel has pulled off quite a lot over the course of the MCU’s now-thirteen year history, in that it redeems and validates some pretty uninspiring previous films and makes them near-enough essential to watch. Even the films that existed way before – or which sprung up parallel to – the MCU itself. Did you enjoy Spider-Man 3 or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 despite frosty critical and audience reception? Don’t worry, No Way Home won’t judge you for it.

There’s an infectious level of fun running through the film, though that’s not to say that it isn’t without significant emotional beats, which are most definitely there. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker feels like he’s grown up by the end of the story and it’s a fitting end to the ‘Home’ trilogy of Sony/Marvel Spidey films.

As with Endgame bringing a major saga of the MCU to a climax, it’s really difficult to see where the series can go next that’ll be anywhere near as satisfying and thrilling as this instalment is. One thing’s for sure though – if we get anywhere near the absolute blast of comic book perfection encapsulated in Spider-Man: No Way Home, it’ll be great to see regardless.

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