Even during these doldrums of late-stage Marvel fatigue, I was hyped for Spider-Man: No Way Home. The Tom Holland entries to the canon have managed to be utterly charming and relatively low-stakes when compared to their self-important and bloated mainline Avengers installments. The strong implication that No Way Home would also include spider-men and spider-villains past was enough to temporarily revert my psyche to that of my circa 2007 self: really, really excited to see Spidey up on the screen.
Here’s the thing: No Way Home delivers the goods, just way too much of them. After a kinetic first act, proceedings drag to a baffling degree: nearly every scene in the movie overstays its welcome by several minutes. It’s not a long movie in terms of plot content, it’s a short movie dragged out to be a long movie with unnecessary business.
Even moments that had me screaming with joy at the outset ran on for an uncomfortable duration. One of the MacGuire/Garfield/Holland scenes that should have been a cathartic moment for longtime fans felt like an extended and unfunny SNL sketch. The meandering excess of every sequence made the pacing feel more like a Disney+ miniseries than a feature film. This is doubly frustrating because I enjoyed most of the plot beats and character moments in the movie, and adored quite a few — the movie just wasn’t edited down to a digestible shape.
I’m not sure what drove this editing decision. Do movies just need to be too long for streaming now? Would No Way Home have really made Marvel and Sony significantly less money if it had been forty minutes shorter? Is this how cinema dies? Help me out here!
Learned: This is really screenwriting 101 stuff: enter late, leave early. LEAVE. EARLY. But you can still make one and a half billion dollars by not leaving early, so nothing means anything I guess!