Spider-Man: No Way Home Makes Peter Parker a Hero

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Article by Ren Topping, Section Editor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tom Holland fit right in when he first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Spider-Man. The moment he jumped into 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, Holland showed that he possessed the classic Spider-Man charm and the teenage energy of Peter Parker. Since then, Holland has portrayed the wall-crawler in two solo films and two Avengers films. With Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) his solo film trilogy comes to a close, but it could be the start of something much greater for the MCU’s Spider-Man. 

Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker immediately differentiated itself from the two previous major film adaptations of Spider-Man (Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3 starring Tobey Maguire and The Amazing Spider-Man 1 and 2 starring Andrew Garfield) because from the beginning of the newest trilogy, Peter Parker is already Spider-Man. No radioactive spider bite, no death of Uncle Ben or speeches on responsibility, he’s web-slinging from the get-go. 

It’s understandable why that choice was made. The origin of Spider-Man had been done on screen twice before so why overplay it? Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home still had iconic Spider-Man characters and villains. They had heroic moments and relatable issues, but something was off: the two films looked and sounded and acted like Spider-Man films, but it seemed as if they were just out of reach of the original character. It seems as if when Spider-Man was pulled into the MCU, he was pulled a little bit too hard. The spider bite is mentioned only in passing, it’s unclear whether Uncle Ben ever even existed. Has Peter heard the eight all important words uttered? Does he know that with great power there must also come great responsibility? 

That phrase has become somewhat of a cliché, but it’s still at the core of the Spider-Man character. Not every Peter Parker has to see their uncle die to learn this lesson, but every Peter Parker has to learn the lesson nonetheless. He cannot become Spider-Man until he understands the weight of his responsibility. The first two films of the Tom Holland trilogy didn’t quite demonstrate that Peter did understand this, so the viewer could only assume he hadn’t truly become Spider-Man yet. 

No Way Home opens with Spider-Man’s identity being revealed to the entire world. Not only that, but the villain he fought in the previous film, Mysterio, accuses him of staging an attack on London. This, of course, embroils Spider-Man and therefore Peter Parker in controversy, but it also drags the people closest to him under the bus. Peter only wants a normal life for himself and his loved ones, so he asks Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, to cast a spell that will make the entire world forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The spell doesn’t quite go according to plan. Instead of making everyone forget Spider-Man’s identity, it brings villains from alternate universes (previous Spider-Man film franchises) into the current one. 

It’s the kind of plot that only a Marvel movie could get away with. And it’s not free of holes, namely, Doctor Strange is so casual about casting a spell to, in his words, “brainwash the entire world.“ But despite the film’s grandiosity, No Way Home is the most personal and heartfelt inclusion in the trilogy. 

Peter finally learns that he must always try to do the right thing because he can, even if that makes things difficult for him, even if he must sacrifice what he most desperately wants to do what’s best for others. That’s what makes him a hero. Not the super strength or the quick reflexes, but the choice he makes each day to be good. No Way Home is the end of Spider-Man’s origin story and the first MCU film that truly feels like a Spider-Man film. 

Now that Tom Holland’s Peter has matured into the hero he is meant to be, Marvel and Sony are free to explore new Spider-Man stories, ones that reach the heights of their predecessors and amend some of the flaws of the older films. 

It is currently unclear when future MCU Spider-Man films will come or if they will come at all. Tom Holland has yet to renew his initial three-film contract, but he described his future in the role as an “open conversation“ with Marvel and Sony. Considering the box-office success and how well received the MCU Spider-Man films have been, it would be a surprise if Marvel didn’t attempt greatness once more with their most iconic character.