Back in 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed the friendly neighborhood hero known as Spider-Man as he swung his way back onto the big screen and into fans’ hearts for the first time in “Captain America: Civil War.” The film came only two years after Sony’s cancellation of its “The Amazing Spider-Man” trilogy, which starred Oscar-nominated actor Andrew Garfield in the role of the web-slinger and his alias Peter Parker. Although this swing around, the MCU’s masked vigilante suited up in red and blue was set to be played by budding newcomer Tom Holland.
After starring in four more Avengers and solo films, Holland portrayed Spider-Man again in the third installment of the MCU’s Spidey films, titled “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The film is (SPOILER ALERT) all about the multiverse but more importantly, it’s about second chances. With the film’s record-breaking opening weekend grossing over $260 million, everyone is swinging into their local theaters to see what all the fuss is about and if the Spidey-mania is really worth the hype.
Picking up immediately where “Spider-Man: Far From Home” left off, the film finds Peter Parker and the life he once knew on the verge of crumbling. Framed for the murder of Mysterio and his identity exposed to the entire world, Peter watches as the consequences begin to settle in — and quickly, might I add.
Now seniors in high school, Peter and his buddies aspire to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology together. However, this dream ultimately turns to ruin when they all receive identical rejection letters, prompted by the recent controversy surrounding Peter’s unmasking.
In a desperate last-ditch attempt to get his besties Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon) and Michelle Jones (Zendaya) a second shot at becoming MIT engineers, Peter reaches out to old friend Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for assistance. Strange reluctantly agrees to assist Peter by conjuring up a spell, but when the spell turns to chaos, the unimaginable happens — the multi-dimensional universe is ripped wide open.
Holland’s Spidey is now confronted with the task of battling a group of unrecognizable bad guys, but to the members of the audience, these villains are quite familiar. Antagonists from both director Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” (2002) trilogy and Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012) series grace the big screen.
Throughout “No Way Home,” Peter Parker tries to help the multiverse villains by creating antidotes to reverse the mental and physical attributes that caused their turn to the dark side. Peter wanted to give the iconic “bad guys” a second chance before they go back to their universe — and a second chance at life.
All of this fuels the fire of the film’s explosive third act, which displays one of the greatest illustrations of the second chance trope ever. Ned and Michelle attempt to locate Peter after his destructive battle with the band of villains, which ends in an epic loss. Ned, using Doctor Strange’s technology, opens a portal in search of Peter Parker. And that’s exactly who he finds.
In one of the most epic cinematic scenes ever, Peter Parker walks through the portal. Although when he removes the Spider-Man mask, it’s not Tom Holland behind the disguise: It’s Andrew Garfield from “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The scene becomes ever more jaw-dropping as Ned opens another portal to reveal none other than Tobey Maguire from the original “Spider-Man” trilogy.
This moment was evidently a major second chance for actor Andrew Garfield, whose third film was abruptly ripped away when Sony canceled “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise after its second film. Garfield described his feelings about hanging up the beloved suit in a 2016 “Actors on Actors” conversation with Amy Adams. Regarding his experience playing the web-slinger, he said, “I signed up to serve the story and to serve this incredible character that I’ve been dressing as since I was three, and then it gets compromised and it breaks my heart. I got heartbroken, a little bit, to a certain degree.”
The third film focuses a new microscope on the history of the character and brings the past to light more than ever before. As Garfield’s brief time as the masked hero comes up more in discussion, a past video of the actor giving a heartfelt ode to the character at San Diego Comic-Convention is now recirculating on social media. His appreciation for the role reaffirms Garfield’s love and admiration of Stan Lee’s life’s work even more. In the video, the actor exclaimed, “I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid and he gave me hope. In every comic I read, he was living out mine and every skinny boy’s fantasy of being stronger. Of being free of the body I was born into.”
He continued, “Upon receiving his power, unlike most who become corrupted, he used it for good. And I think we all wished that we had the courage to stick up for ourselves more. To stick up for a loved one more or even a stranger you see being mistreated.”
Garfield made sure to touch upon the effect the character had upon him as an individual: “Peter Parker has inspired me to feel stronger. He made me, Andrew, braver. He reassured me that by doing the right thing, it’s worth it. It’s worth the struggle. It’s worth the pain. It’s worth even the tears and the bruises and the blood.”
Concluding his heartfelt love letter to the hero, Garfield noted, “He has saved lives, and he saved my life.”
Nonetheless, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” grants both past perpetrators from decades of the film franchise and past actors a second chance to experience the thrill of wearing the iconic comic book suits. As the love of Garfield’s performance in the recent Spidey rendition continues to make waves, fans are pushing for a third film in “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise. So maybe soon, Garfield will be granted another opportunity to reappear as the heroic character who means so much to him and fans all over the globe.