In some ways, Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) represents the zenith of the modern pop-culture superhero craze. While it’s certainly better than any film of this sort has any right to be, it’s also not as good as that Rotten Tomatoes score would lead you to believe. There is a certain logic that is absent from the core mechanics of how the “multiverse” is supposed to work. But what Spider-Man sacrifices in the way of coherency, it more than makes up for in the way of generating pathos. The real draw of Spider-Man: No Way Home is the chance to see the three modern cinematic incarnations of Spider-Man all playing in the same sandbox at the same time. Perhaps the reason Spider-Man: No Way Home seems stale has to do with the fact that this story has already been told in a much more interesting fashion, and recently. There is little doubt that 2018’s Academy Award-winning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse played a significant role in the trajectory the current live-action Spider-Man films are now taking. But where Sony’s hit wowed critics and audiences alike with the limitless flair of animation, Disney’s live-action version of the dimension-hopping Spider-Men looks like any of the other CGI-laden superhero blockbusters of recent years. And in the context of the previous narratives that Spider-Man: No Way Home tries to tie off, what results is something worse than cynicism — sentimentality, the reducing of complexity to trite cliché, preying on nostalgia, the trading on emotion for the sake of emotion, and that is the currency with which this film pays dividends. Spider-Man: No Way Home is a film just about anyone can sit down and enjoy. No one can accuse these kinds of films of being poorly made; studios throw too much money at them for that. But when it comes to substance, depth, texture, and contradiction, the thinking filmgoer will be left wanting.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Cole Burgett about his online-exclusive article, “Spider-Man: No Way Home and the Emotional Cheapening of the Modern Blockbuster.“
Please note this article will be fully accessible by the public in the future, to get early access to read it now, please see our FAQ section on Early Access to Online-Exclusive Articles by clicking here.
We’d also like to invite you to subscribe to the Journal. To subscribe to the Journal, please click here.
When you to subscribe to the Journal, you join the team of print subscribers whose paid subscriptions help provide the resources at equip.org that minister to people worldwide. These resources include our ever growing database of over 1,500 articles, as well as our free Postmodern Realities podcast.
Another way you can support our online articles is by leaving us a tip. A tip is just a small amount, like $3, $5, or $10 which is the cost for some of a latte, lunch out, or coffee drink. To leave a tip, click here