The ominously titled Spider-Man: No Way Home is proving to be the most anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie since Avengers: Endgame. The first trailer has set the Internet aflame, thanks to some familiar faces from previous Spider-Man films.
No Way Home is likely the last time we’ll see Spider-Man in the MCU since Sony’s contract to lend the character to Marvel Studios for three solo films is coming to an end. But he’ll go out with a bang: the movie will throw Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man into the multiverse where he will meet characters from previous Spider-Man franchises—specifically the Sony versions starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, respectively.
While Maguire and Garfield aren’t technically confirmed cast members, we’re probably getting a live-action version of the Spider-Man pointing meme. We do know that Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2, Jamie Foxx’s Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Matt Murdoch from the Netflix TV show Daredevil will all appear in No Way Home. The first trailer also revealed for the first time that we’ll get to see versions of the Green Goblin, Sandman and Lizard. And there are a few hints that we may finally get a live-action rendering of a beloved version of Spidey from the comics, Miles Morales.
We do know that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) will play a pivotal role in the film. When a Spidey villain reveals Spider-Man’s secret identity, Peter Parker pleads with Strange to use magic to reverse the revelation. Things go predictably awry from there.
Here’s everything you need to know about the first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home and how it fits into the MCU’s growing multiverse.
We see the fallout from Spider-Man’s identity reveal in Spider-Man: Far From Home
The last time we saw Holland’s Spidey, he was in big trouble. At the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Jake Gyllenhaal’s villainous Mysterio created a fake video to make it seem as if Peter Parker murdered Mysterio in cold blood. (As an aside, Mysterio gained Peter’s trust by claiming that he was a superhero who arrived on earth from a parallel universe, and then joked with his henchmen about how gullible Peter was for believing the parallel universe nonsense. That past burn may mean that Peter is slow to accept the whole multiverse concept in No Way Home.)
In the final scene of Far From Home, the vindictive journalist J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, reprising his role from the Sam Raimi movies—more on that later) publishes the Mysterio video and reveals that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: No Way Home looks to pick up the action seconds after the end of Far From Home. Peter tries to swing away from crowds with his love interest MJ (Zendaya) in his arms. Kids in school snap his photo. Protestors call Peter a “Devil in Disguise.” The police bring Peter, his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) in for questioning about Mysterio’s death.
This dramatic reaction on the part of New York City seems rather harsh considering how normal citizens in the MCU idolize heroes like Iron Man (who revealed his secret identity in the very first Iron Man movie). But in the comics and the other Spidey films, New Yorkers have always been a bit suspicious and scared of Spider-Man, thanks in large part to J. Jonah Jameson’s anti-Spidey propaganda at the Daily Bugle. And now that Mysterio has framed Spider-Man for his murder, the public perceives Peter as a vigilante.
Unlike Tony Stark or even Stephen Strange, Peter is just a kid. He can’t hide away from the public in his mansion or the Sanctum Sanctorum. Thus, Peter turns to Doctor Strange for help.
Is Matt Murdoch, a.k.a. Daredevil, Peter Parker’s lawyer?
We briefly see a man drop a load of papers in front of Peter. This could be a cop confronting him with (fake) evidence that Peter killed Mysterio. Or this could be Peter’s lawyer. (Stark Industries would, presumably, have some sort of legal defense fund set up for this very situation.)
We know that Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdoch from the Netflix Daredevil TV show is set to appear in the film. Fans think this may be him. The mystery man is sporting Matt’s signature white shirt and black tie getup. On a grander scale, this could mean that Netflix’s Marvel TV shows, which never really tied into the MCU films, are, in fact, canon.
A “careful what you wish for” plot line pulled from the comics
In the trailer, Peter Parker asks Doctor Strange to make the world forget Peter’s secret identity. Wong (Benedict Wong) warns Doctor Strange not to attempt the magic to make this happen, but Strange does so anyway. Strange was reckless in the Doctor Strange film, but taking such a big risk seems uncharacteristic after the events of Infinity War. But perhaps he hasn’t learned his lesson. Or, worse still, this is a different sorcerer masquerading as Doctor Strange.
Regardless of his motivation, while Strange is casting his spell, Peter has second thoughts. If MJ, for instance, forgets his secret identity, their bond will disappear. Peter’s backtracking messes up the spell and seemingly breaks open the multiverse.
The conceit for No Way Home pulls heavily from the notorious Civil War storyline in the comics in which Peter reveals his secret identity. Peter eventually realizes he made a mistake and put his loved ones at risk. His Aunt May is shot, and in the One More Day storyline, Peter turns to Doctor Strange to help save her. Doctor Strange isn’t able to save May’s life, so Peter makes a deal with the literal devil, Mephisto. In exchange for Aunt May’s life, he has to give up his marriage to MJ, and Mephisto erases MJ’s memory of Peter.
A quick primer on the concept of the multiverse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse was the first popular movie to introduce the idea of a superhero multiverse into the mainstream consciousness. The Oscar-winning animated film centered on Miles Morales, a Black-Puerto Rican teen growing up in Brooklyn. Miles not only gains Spidey powers but is caught up in the combustion of a dangerous machine that makes parallel universes collide. That accident ushers Spider-People (or, well, Spider-beings) from parallel universes—including Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey’s Spider-Woman, and a pig named Spider-Ham—into Miles’ Brooklyn.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a hit and got movie fans comfortable with the concept of the parallel timelines and multiple versions of superheroes living in different universes. While Spider-verse is not a part of the MCU (it was made by Sony), Marvel Studios has since embraced the concept of a multiverse in its live action properties.
The multiverse wouldn’t be possible without Loki
(Major spoilers for the show Loki in this section)
Marvel Studios introduced the multiverse into its movies and TV shows with the series Loki this summer. In it, the beloved Thor villain (played by Tom Hiddleston) tries to escape to a parallel universe and is stopped by the Time Variance Authority (TVA). The TVA is basically a group of space-time cops responsible for pruning any timelines that branch off the main timeline, creating parallel universes.
The show crucially establishes the concept of “variants,” different versions of the same character existing in multiple universes. Loki, for example, falls in love with a female variant of himself who goes by Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). After watching Loki, it’s easy to see how Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and Tom Holland Spider-Man could both exist in the same movie franchise.
By the end of Loki, Loki and Sylvie discover an incredibly intelligent man named Kang the Conquerer (Jonathan Majors) has been behind the TVA and maintaining one single universe. Kang warns them that other Kang variants are even more evil, and if they kill him, they’ll just create many parallel universes with many versions of Kang in them. Sylvie chooses to kill Kang anyway, thus creating many branching timelines. (A different version of Kang, also played by Majors, is set to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.)
Why is this important for Spider-Man? Well, had Doctor Strange created parallel timelines before Loki and Sylvie messed with the universe, the TVA would have just shown up and destroyed the branching timelines. Now, however, chaos reigns and variants can meet one another.
We may finally see a live-action Miles Morales
In a brief shot in the trailer, we see Peter wearing a black and gold Spidey suit running through F.E.A.S.T., a homeless shelter from the excellent Spider-Man video game. In that game, Aunt May works at the homeless shelter, as does Miles Morales.
Maybe it’s a stretch to say that the inclusion of F.E.A.S.T. in the trailer suggests we’ll get to see Miles. But this isn’t the first time that the MCU has hinted Miles is coming to the MCU. In the first Holland Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man meets Miles’ uncle, Aaron Davis, a.k.a. the Prowler, played by Donald Glover. Aaron name checks his young nephew to Peter. Maybe that version of Miles will get Spidey powers. Or perhaps Peter meets an alternate-universe Miles.
Doctor Octopus is back
The greatest Spider-Man movie villain ever is back on the big screen. Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus emerges on a highway and says, “Hello, Peter.” Either Doc Ock is greeting Holland’s Peter as if he knows him or he’s actually saying hello to Maguire’s Peter, and the trailer is just holding back that reveal.
The last time we saw Doctor Octopus, the character drowned in the Hudson. Molina has hinted that the character gets transported from a parallel universe to this movie before his death.
The Green Goblin is back, too
We don’t see the Green Goblin in the trailer but we do see a teaser for him: a pumpkin bomb, the Green Goblin’s favorite weapon, tossed among a cluster of cars. It looks like the same setting where Peter encounters Doc Ock. It’s unclear if Willem Dafoe, who played Green Goblin in the Maguire Spider-Man movies, is returning as the character, or if we’re getting another variant of the villain played by another actor. But we do hear a Green Goblin cackle that sounds an awful lot like Dafoe.
And so is Electro
We get a brief shot of an electric bolt flashing above some police cars, which seems to indicate the return of Foxx’s Electro. Notably, this electricity is yellow (like it is in the comics) rather than blue (like it is in the Amazing Spider-Man 2). That could be just an aesthetic change, or it could mean this is a totally different Electro than the one we’ve seen before. Fans would likely embrace a less timid version of the character than the one Foxx portrayed in the 2014 film. After all, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was not particularly well received and ultimately ended the Garfield Spider-Man franchise.
And so is Sandman
Another villain tease! We see sand swirling up from the ground, a telltale sign that bad guy Sandman (who appeared in Spider-Man 3) will also return for this film. Last we saw Sandman in the Maguire Spider-Man movies, he apologized to Peter and blew away. So it’s unclear what version of Sandman we’ll get.
And so is the Lizard
Lizard, the villain from Amazing Spider-Man, is also making a comeback. It’s difficult to see in this screenshot, but we see Holland’s Peter briefly turn around and get scared by Lizard in the trailer.
We’re probably getting the Sinister Six
That’s five villains. One more and we’d have The Sinister Six, a team of super-villains that join forces in order to try to kill Spider-Man. They show up frequently in the comics and, recently, in the aforementioned Spider-Man video game. It’s possible that a villain from the first Holland movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, could join this team, be that Michael Keaton’s Vulture or Michael Mando’s Scorpion.
Remember, Scorpion confronted Vulture about Spider-Man’s identity in an end-credits scene for Homecoming. Now that Scorpion knows who the webslinger is, he’ll likely want to go after him. Vulture, too, has reason to hate Spider-Man for landing him behind bars and separating him from his family.
Where are the other Spider-Men?
We don’t actually get to see any other Spider-people in the trailer. They may be holding those reveals back for future trailers or for the movie itself.
But we do get some allusions to past movies. For example, the moment at the beginning of the trailer between Holland’s Peter and Zendaya’s MJ on the roof is reminiscent of the scene where Maguire’s Peter and Kirsten Dunst’s MJ lie together in a web in the early Spider-Man films. In another shot, Peter and MJ stand atop the Queensborough bridge, which is a pivotal location in the original Spider-Man. These shots are likely intentional reminders of the Spidey films that came before and how Peter’s life parallels those of other Peters in other universes.
Are we finally getting a glimpse of the Fantastic Four or X-Men?
This may be an easter egg or just pure desperation on the part of fans to see Wolverine, but Doctor Strange’s mug in one shot says “Oh For Fox Sake” on it. This could be a throwaway prop or it may be nodding at Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which gave Disney the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters.
The parallel universes plot is the perfect way to usher the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU. After all, everyone would ask where the heck all those heroes were during the fight against Thanos if they were to just come out of hiding now. There’s already a lot going on in No Way Home, so I doubt we’ll get a glimpse of Reed Richards or Raven in this movie, but a fan can dream.
Does Spider-Man: No Way Home connect to Morbius or Venom?
Yes and no. After the Garfield Spider-Man movies failed to make quite the splash that the Maguire movies had, Sony turned to Disney for help producing a new set of Spidey films. Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: No Way Home were all co-produced by Sony and Disney.
However their three-picture contract ends with Spider-Man: No Way Home. (Indeed, the deal almost fell apart before No Way Home ever saw the light of day.) Sony fully intends on building out an entire Spider-verse without Disney and has begun producing film series for some of Spidey’s greatest villains, including Venom and Morbius. A Venom sequel and Morbius are both due out in the next year.
These villains do exist in Spider-Man’s world: Keaton’s Vulture, the main villain in Homecoming, appears in the Morbius trailer.
What happens to Spider-Man after No Way Home?
The title of the film does not bode well for Peter’s future in the MCU. Sony wants its own cinematic universe to compete with Marvel’s and continuing to lend Disney its most popular character undermines that goal.
But Sony will definitely want to keep the character, or some iteration of him, around for future movies. In the meantime, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Morbius and a Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse sequel are all on their way to theaters to build out the Spider-Man multiverse.
What happens to Doctor Strange after No Way Home?
The upcoming movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be helmed by Sam Raimi, the beloved director of all three Maguire Spider-Man movies, so the plot of that film will likely be directly tied to No Way Home. Marvel has confirmed that Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) will also star in that film, though it’s unclear if she’ll play a hero or a villain. The end of WandaVision suggests she could turn good or evil.
If someone has to piece the multiverse back together, it’ll likely be Strange or Wanda or both, considering they are the only two magic users and two of the strongest Avengers. Whether No Way Home ends with a happy resolution or with the multiverse in chaos, all signs point toward Doctor Strange playing a major role in the next phase of the MCU.
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