Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide: Spider-Man is my holiday superhero

Oh, the holidays. After we’ve all collectively endured a gruelling exam season, we are rewarded with the most wonderful time of the year — full of kinship, cheer, hope and seasonal films.

There’s one unconventional holiday movie that I’m eagerly anticipating in my family's yearly “Christmas Movie Background Noise Marathon”: Spider-Man: No Way Home. I know I sound crazy, but hear me out.

The film follows Tom Holland’s rendition of dork-turned-superhero Peter Parker in a quintessential Spider-Man experience. It serves as the finale of director Jon Watts’s trilogy of Spider-Man films, and it’s everything a Spider-Man movie should be — epic stunts and fights, a menagerie of sinister villains, a fantastic score and of course the echoing message that with Great Power comes Great Responsibility.

But how exactly is the film a holiday movie? Well, the most basic connection to make is that No Way Home takes place during the holiday season, which is enough for my intents and purposes.

Aside from the setting, holiday movies have one thing in common: They never fail to cheer you up (except when they do. See other Twelve Days of Completely Secular Yuletide reviews to learn more about this). They’re works of art imbued with the holiday spirit, and No Way Home is no different. Just like so many other holiday movies, it invokes the childlike wonder and wintertime excitement associated with the holiday season. It brings me back to a time when I would wake up early and bolt down the stairs to see if a certain someone had dropped off a present or eaten the cookies I had left out.

To me, the season also carries a tone of reflection, and No Way Home is, at its core, a nostalgic trip through everything Spider-Man, cinematically speaking.

Bringing back former Spider-Man actors through Peter and Doctor Strange’s multiversal shenanigans brings me back to watching all of the older movies growing up. For a lifelong Spider-Man fan, No Way Home is a trip down memory lane. In a strange way, this makes it even more of a seasonal movie to me — not only do I reflect on the films, I also reflect on past holiday experiences.

The film doesn’t just trap itself in nostalgic rumination. It also carries an undertone of hope. After the events of the film play out, Peter is left on his own to navigate his future. Things look bleak, and he’s entirely alone. But like Spider-Man always does, he picks himself up and gets back on his feet.

The choral scoring of this scene is reminiscent of Spider-Man films past (especially Danny Elfman's score for Raimi's Tobey Maguire trilogy), while the visual component of Peter’s swing through the snow, donning a new homemade suit, is representative of his optimism for the future.

It’s not a common pick, but it might be my favourite holiday movie of all time. To me, it captures the happiness, reflection and hope that characterize the season. If I ever need to feel that holiday magic, I can count on Spider-Man: No Way Home to cheer me right up.