When No Way Home released in 2021, I was one of the many MCU fans who desperately tried
to avoid spoilers. This meant I spent a lot of time avoiding social media, fan art, and forums I
was used to frequenting. What I’m saying is, I was invested before I even bought a ticket.
Going to the movie theater is, in my opinion, the best way to experience a film. It’s not only the
way filmmakers intended it to be viewed, but also you are exposed to other moviegoers who are
there for similar reasons. When a stranger gets excited or cries next to you while you are
cheering or wiping away tears, you’ve shared a moment of empathy. Though it won’t leave that
moment and you’re unlikely to catch their number after the credits roll, movies such us about
people. For a superhero film, especially one like No Way Home, it calls back to Aunt May:
“when you help one person, you help everyone”. Often we get engrossed in our own
experiences, especially with the rise of social media, that we forget the world we share becomes
meaningful when we allow others to take part in our lives even at what seems like a trivial level
like laughing next to a random person in a movie theater. It reminds us we’re not as alone as we
might think we are. MCU understands this concept well.
My first time watching No Way Home was the best movie experience I’ve ever had and I left
thinking to myself “this was the best movie I’ve ever seen”. I cried, I laughed, I stood up and
cheered, and most importantly people around me who I didn’t even know did the same thing. It
was so validating to know other people felt what I felt, and this is where hype comes into play.
Back in December, the showing was full. I went to the showing on September 1st this year and
there were about 6 people including myself. The bonus content was funny, but with the extra
quiet I recognized how it made the movie drag. I honestly wasn’t surprised it got cut for time,
because it was unnecessary to the film as a whole. The post credit sequence added could have
easily been an intro for the next movie, if there is one, and offered little value besides knowing
how Dr. Strange’s spell may have worked. And really shouldn’t we have known that much
sooner in the film to begin with?
The parts I cheered for lost their value the second time around, which was a big reveal for me
on how important it was to experience the film with others. A twist in a movie should always
have an impact no matter how many times you watch it if you’ve done it right. No Way Home
doesn’t seek to be the “best” movie of the year, it seeks to be the most “marketable” movie of
the year. It plays on emotions but in the sense that borderlines mob mentality.
For this second showing, I didn’t get up and scream, so I heard the silence. There were
awkward pauses and I realized how the filmmakers knew people in the theater would be
reacting the way I did. They accounted for it in the film. At the time, it was perfect. The second
time around, it felt awkward.
Peter faces significant backlash in No Way Home when his secret is revealed. I think the way
MCU set up this film parallels his experience. Like many MCU films, we get swept up in the
moment. We see this too in cancel culture where individuals don’t just rally each other in
empathetic ways but pressure others through manipulation like threats to be swept away with
them. This toxicity moves from support to control.
Overall, I thought it was an interesting experience to have. There are movies I have seen many
times over that remain significant to me. While No Way Home was a great film the first time
around, it didn’t have the same level of resonance with me the second time. That being said,
that hollow feeling left after the second showing, in my opinion, was telling of the reality outside
the theater in profound ways.
Movies become real when they make us feel real things. But they become significant when they
change the world around them.
Photo Credits: @SpiderManMovie Twitter