To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Spider-Man: No Way Home Ticket

Spider-Man crouched in his Iron Spider suit in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Marvel Studios)

Strange forces are amassing, and an event of multiversal proportions is brewing that will change everything we know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, and Spider-Man: No Way Home is finally opening in theaters, entertaining fans of that friendly neighborhood crime fighter to no end. Since it’s a comic book movie, there’s already a ton of questions everyone is asking about what this experience means in the long run. But there’s one question we can happily answer now, spoiler-free: To 3D, or not to 3D?

If you’re looking for what we thought about the movie as a general experience, you can read the official review from our own Eric Eisenberg. However, if you’re wondering whether Jon Watts’ big threequel is worth the extra 3D money, or if you’d be better off sprucing up your personal spider suit, this is the place to be. Let’s slip on our glasses, and see whether or not Spider-Man: No Way Home is a 3D marvel!


As the third Spider-Man solo effort in the MCU, we’ve seen quite a history of 3D presentations in this franchise alone. Spider-Man: Homecoming was one of the last IMAX 3D experiences the domestic market got to enjoy in the MCU, but in the last two Peter Parker adventures, we’ve pretty much gotten conventional 3D only. Even with that shift in scope, Spider-Man’s high-flying antics remain an absolute fit for third dimensional enhancements; and throwing Doctor Strange into the mix only cranks the possibilities to a higher potential.


The potential of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s 3D conversion is only as good as the way it’s planned and executed. Conversion efforts for this film were undertaken by Stereo-D, who have worked on both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home in the past. One would think that gives them a unique understanding on bringing the character to life in the format; which is true to an extent, especially when considering the firm also converted Doctor Strange into 3D as well. All that knowledge still doesn't prevent some shortcomings that hamper the overall product to a significant extent, but it does help provide a decent foundation.


For a universe that is centered around a character that uses webs to swing around, deflect objects, and spring into action, Spider-Man: No Way Home is very sparse in its Before The Window fun. Previously, we’ve seen this effect carried to great effect in the franchise, with webs flying out at the audience and close calls with debris causing a flinch or two. The third time isn’t a charm in this scenario, as even Doc Ock’s 3D ready tentacles barely reach out into the audience. It’s a glaring absence, as certain moments are begging to break the frame, but don’t achieve the desired effect.


Good news returns on the front of the picture depth in Spider-Man: No Way Home, as this is a segment that has improved since the last solo installment. To be honest, a story that includes the trademark dimension bending of Doctor Stephen Strange and his powers would have been a bit of a heartbreaker if those visuals didn’t convey limitless depth. Not only is that intact, allowing the audience to feel like they’re falling into the images in front of them, but the field of vision in up close and personal scenes is also well drawn. Scenes of multiple characters working in a lab together show a firm grasp on spatial reasoning, and people/objects are easily separated from their backgrounds.  


Strap in friends, because this is another bummer. Daytime scenes in Spider-Man: No Way Home are well suited, and can be viewed clearly, which isn't as much of a guarantee as you'd think with a 3D viewing. Throughout most of the nocturnal settings of this adventure, there’s a lot of murky and dim visuals that are a bit taxing on the eyes. That’s not always because of the conversion process, because the theater displaying the movie may not have properly calibrated their equipment to display a 3D movie before showtime. This is the third time in the recent past that a showing observed for our 3D reviews started with improper calibration; and on top of that unfortunate misstep, the brightness level of the film when the 3D was “turned on” was almost consistently covered in a blue dimness. 


The blurriness of an image in a 3D showing has always seemed like a good shortcut to understanding how well a movie has been manipulated for the third dimensional space. While the effect beyond the window isn’t as keenly executed as one would want, taking your glasses off during Spider-Man: No Way Home’s 3D presentation will still show a healthy display of blurred visuals. It’s not as fine as some other movies we’ve seen in the past, but the major pieces are still present, with backgrounds carrying a lot of the blur and close-ups going most of the distance.


Darkness is not your ally when watching a 3D movie, and Spider-Man: No Way Home chalks up another notch in the metaphorical belt that proves that statement. In the presentation observed for this review, the finished product is definitely watchable and not totally broken. Unfortunately, with a good number of scenes taking place in darkness, and the brightness level of the picture falling short to begin with, this experience got a bit frustrating at times. You shouldn’t have to be bothered by picture quality when Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe are sharing a moment on screen, but that’s what happened here.


With the MCU all sewn up for the year of 2021, it’s safe to say that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the best 3D conversion that Marvel Studios has offered us this year. Spider-Man: No Way Home isn’t the worst third dimensional showing from the studio, as Eternals still reigns supreme in that respect. Huge opportunities were still missed in the undertaking of this conversion, with the consistent problem of brightness levels being the nail in the coffin. If anything is to be learned from this scenario, it’s that theaters need to be keeping their 3D auditoriums maintained, and maybe it’s time to bring back the IMAX 3D format in the domestic market. 

Until next time, don’t forget to support those theaters in your market that you trust with the 3D experience, as they can use all the help you can lend. If you want to catch up on previous 3D evaluations, head over to our full To 3D Or Not To 3D Archive. Otherwise, we’ll see you back here the next time we prepare to tackle the web of third dimensional adventure in a theater near you. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.