BY PORTIA LI '23 AND SAMMY LIU '23
Spoiler Alert: This review contains details about Spider-Man: No Way Home
Last December, theaters were filled with young and old alike, all awaiting one of the most anticipated movies of the year: Spider-Man: No Way Home. After the movie was first announced in 2017, a common question persisted in fans’ minds: would Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire appear in the new Spider-Verse film? Common sense argued against the idea—it seemed impossible to maintain the actors’ original roles as Spider-Men while smoothly integrating them into the movie. However, as fans left opening night, they learned that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were indeed included, as they successfully connected several generations of fans through stellar cinematography. This collaboration also opened doors for future Marvel movies to include cameos similar to Maguire and Garfield’s, extending the bridge and their fan base for years to come.
Attentive Marvel fans have gone from scouring the internet for the most recent Andrew Garfield interviews to seeing their Spider-Men on the big screen together. There, they have watched their superheroes transfer the reminiscences of their journeys to Tom Holland—the current Spider-Man. As worlds collide, Andrew Garfield strolls through a shimmering portal, causing the theater to cheer. He is followed by veteran Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, and, together, the three Spider-Men revert the struggles of the modern-day Peter Parker. This story tells a tale of teamwork and resilience, but it is additionally a story of generational closure. Maguire’s first Spider-Man premiere took place over twenty years ago and Garfield’s occurred eight years ago; some loyal fans are now in their mid-thirties, no doubt feeling nostalgic from the past couple of decades of Spider cinema.
As the Spider-Men wait atop the Statue of Liberty, the audience sees Garfield carrying Maguire in an attempt to crack Maguire’s elderly back, and Maguire has noticeably aged. Fans connect to their respective Spider-Men through similar life experiences, like the strain of stiff limbs. Later, when a self-deprecating Garfield calls himself “not as cool” as his partners, Maguire reassures him that he is amazing. Maguire’s actions reflect the stereotypically cheerful older generation while Garfield’s self-deprecatory attitude represents the kind of exposure younger generations face today.
Finally, as the Spider-Men face their respective villains, an old Dr. Otto Octavius observes, “Peter, you are all grown up” to Maguire’s Spider-Man in a final, heart-wrenching parallel to the millennials out there. Perhaps this brief moment resonates with fans whose teenage-hood coincided with Maguire’s Spider-Man era, bringing a final conclusion. But it’s more than that: through each Spider-man, each generation peers into the values and culture of those older and younger than them.
Spider-Man: No Way Home communicates these messages through the orchestrator of it all—cinematography. As society advances rapidly with new technology and pop culture, the earlier lives of older generations are fading as distant memories. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home connects all generations through one piece of timeless entertainment. Older generations reminisce Maguire’s reign as inspiration that heroes exist regardless of age, and the Garfield generation has another chance to grip ahold of their younger years before it reaches its end. And of course, the young Holland generation is given a collective piece of the Marvel world as they live through their liveliest years. Though it was another superhero movie, there is no doubt that Spider-Man: No Way Home presented a transcending of generations.
Even if you thought that the Sharknado films were unironically entertaining, there is no denying that the combination of action, nostalgia, and quirky interactions between the three actors in No Way Home culminated in a cinematic masterpiece. Marvel successfully attracted a multigenerational fan base and thus gathered a novel audience for their future films. By introducing the endless possibilities of cameos with new timelines and universes, Marvel keeps its fans anticipating its next masterpiece.