This story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is chock full of familiar faces. Tom Holland’s Spidey accidentally breaks open the multiverse and invites in characters from the other two Spider-Man franchises that preceded the Homecoming trilogy. Among them, yes, are Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles as two different Peter Parkers. (Maguire played Peter from 2002-2007 in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Garfield from 2012-2014 in the Amazing Spider-Man movies.)
In the movie’s finale, three different Spider-Men get to battle some of the greatest Marvel villains of all time, like Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin. They also fight Lizard and Sandman, who frankly were lame when they first graced the big screen years ago, and continue to be pretty lame today.
Why are all these people here? Well, after the villain Mysterio revealed Peter’s secret identity to the world at the end of Far From Home, Peter’s life got a little chaotic. He asks Doctor Strange to cast a spell to make (almost) everyone forget he’s Spider-Man. They screw up the spell and, in doing so, summon characters from other universes that know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Holland’s Peter initially plans to round up the bad guys and send them back to their respective parallel universes. But Peter quickly realizes that all these bad guys are fated to die in their respective worlds. He decides to try to cure the physical and mental ailments that turned them evil before sending them back, rather than leaving the men to their respective, doomed fates.
Here’s a breakdown of every single cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home and a reminder of where you last saw each of these characters.
Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man
Five years before Christian Bale took on the role of a billionaire playboy-turned-vigilante in Batman Begins and eight years before Robert Downey Jr. played, well, another billionaire playboy in Iron Man, Tobey Maguire ushered a broke kid from Queens named Peter Parker onto the big screen.
Last we saw Maguire’s Peter in Spider-Man 3, he’d defeated Venom (Topher Grace), let Uncle Ben’s killer, a remorseful Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), go and watched his best friend-turned-nemesis Harry (James Franco) die in his arms.
At this point he and MJ Watson (Kirsten Dunst) had broken up and gotten back together too many times to count, and it was unclear if MJ would stay with him. After all, she got kidnapped at least once a movie, and that had to be unpleasant. But in the last scene, the two shared a dance and reconciled.
Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man
Poor Andrew Garfield has spent the last several months on the press tour for his musical film Tick Tick Boom having to pretend like he wasn’t going to show up in this movie when everyone was pretty sure he would. Finally, Garfield is free!
Garfield’s Spider-Man arc was kind of a bummer. At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 he failed to save the love of his life, Gwen Stacey, from a deadly fall. He hung up the Spidey suit for about a year and visited Gwen Stacey’s grave obsessively. After grieving, he finally decided to watch an old video of Gwen Stacey’s graduation speech about living in the moment (a video that seemed not particularly gradutation-y and suspiciously well-tailored to bucking up Peter at that particular moment, but I digress).
Spider-Man returns to his crimefighting duties to battle…Paul Giamatti in a rhino suit doing a bad Russian accent. The third movie in this series was understandably scuttled. During No Way Home, when Maguire and Holland’s Peters reminisce about fighting aliens, Garfield laments that his villains were lame, poking fun at Rhino in particular.
Still, Garfield gives a soulful performance in No Way Home that reminds us he may have been the best Peter Parker, even if he starred in the worst Spider-Man movies.
Hey, remember for a hot second when Netflix was making a bunch of Marvel TV shows like Daredevil and Luke Cage and Jessica Jones? (We should all pretend like Iron Fist never existed.)
It’s still unclear if these shows—which were all abruptly cancelled—are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon. But, great news, fan favorite characters from those shows may just start popping up in the MCU.
Charlie Cox played the blind attorney-turned-vigilante Matthew Murdoch in Daredevil. At the end of the show’s third and final season, Daredevil put crime boss Kingpin behind bars. In No Way Home, Cox reprises the role and offers Peter his services as an attorney.
At the end of Far From Home, Mysterio staged his death to make it look as if Spider-Man killed him. Peter is taken into custody by the police at the beginning of No Way Home and meets with Matt for counsel. During that meeting, someone throws a brick through Peter’s window with “Mysterio was right” scrawled on it. Murdoch catches the brick.
“How did you do that?” asks Peter.
“I’m a very good lawyer,” shoots back Murdoch.
Apparently so because the Mysterio murder investigation disappears entirely from the plot after that moment. Peter is never dragged to the police station again.
Will Charlie Cox show up in other Marvel properties? Probably. Because—spoiler alert for the Disney+ show Hawkeye—Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Kingpin in Daredevil just popped up in the MCU show Hawkeye.
In Spider-Man 2, Alfred Molina’s Dr. Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2, built mechanical arms to conduct a Oscorp-funded fusion reactor experiment that went awry, killing Octavius’ wife in the process.
A chip that allowed Octavius to control the arms with his mind was destroyed, and the arms began to control Octavius. He became obsessed with finishing his experiment, no matter how many people the reactor killed.
At the end of Spider-Man 2, Maguire’s Peter revealed his identity to Doctor Octopus in hopes of reaching the man inside the machine. Doctor Octopus came to his senses and sacrificed himself to destroy the reactor.
The Doc Ock who shows up in No Way Home has not yet come to the realization that the arc reactor is dangerous and is instead intent on killing Spider-Man.
Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), a scientist and the father of Peter’s best friend Harry Osborn, became the Green Goblin in Maguire’s first Spider-Man movie after he injected himself with a supersoldier serum he created. The serum drove him mad, and he developed a split personality.
The Green Goblin and Spider-Man fought shortly before they were both set to attend the same Thanksgiving dinner. During the battle, Green Goblin cut Spider-Man’s arm and later, at dinner, Norman noticed that Peter Parker was bleeding from a fresh wound in the same spot. The Green Goblin and Spider-Man faced off once more before the Green Goblin accidentally impaled himself on his own jet glider. (Oops.)
If any one baddie can claim villain supremacy in No Way Home, it’s Green Goblin. Norman appeals to Aunt May’s sense of decency while secretly plotting against Peter.
It’s unclear if Flint Marko (a.k.a. Sandman) actually died fighting Spider-Man in Spider-Man 3. The end of that movie is such a mess that the screenwriters seemed to forget about Flint entirely.
You probably don’t remember Flint, but he is the robber who killed Uncle Ben (though Peter had previously thought a different man was responsible). He was arrested and sent to prison but escaped. While on the lam, Flint accidentally fell into an experimental accelerator and became a shape-shifting sand guy.
At the end of Spider-Man 3, Maguire’s Spider-Man and his best friend Harry (now the reformed baddie Hobgoblin) defeat Sandman and Venom to save Mary Jane. Sandman slinks onto the screen and, having been told by Venom that Peter is Spider-Man, apologizes for killing Uncle Ben. Peter lets him go, and Marko shape-shifts into sand and floats away.
Given that all these characters are supposed to die fighting Spider-Man, perhaps this means Marko took his own life? Or that he later died from his sand wounds? Who knows.
Jamie Foxx gets a glow-up in No Way Home. And thank goodness because in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 he started out as a socially awkward nerd with a combover and bad glasses and evolved into…a blue floaty guy. But not a cool, blue floaty guy like Doctor Manhattan in the Watchmen TV series. A lame blue floaty guy.
Like so many supervillains before him, Max Dillon (aka Electro) got his powers by falling into something dangerous, in this case a vat of genetically-modified electric eels. (As Electro notes to Sandman in No Way Home, “Gotta watch where you fall!”)
In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro challenged Garfield’s Spider-Man to a battle at a power plant. But Spider-Man and Gwen Stacey were able to overload the power supply and made Electro vanish into thin air.
In No Way Home, Electro not only gets to look like a normal human—Lizard jokes about the character’s “makeover”—he also gets a personality transplant. The character is now basically just Jamie Foxx. Which is fine. Better, really.
A possible continuity error here: In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Electro never actually discovered Spider-Man’s secret identity before he disappeared, so it’s unclear why he would be summoned to the world where Holland’s Peter lives.
Ah, the villain absolutely no one was clamoring to see again. Rhys Ifans reprises his role as Curt Connors or Lizard, the villain in Amazing Spider-Man. Connors was a scientist who, in a quest to regrow his missing arm, conducted an experiment that—you guessed it!—went awry: He accidentally turned himself into a lizard-human hybrid.
For some reason, this transformation also turned Connor evil. (Is the moral of the Spider-Man series, don’t become a scientist? Because it seems you have a 50/50 chance of turning into a homicidal maniac if you do.) Connors decided to try to release a gaseous cloud version of his lizard formula in New York and turn everyone into lizards. As Electro notes in No Way Home, this plan was ludicrous.
Lizard learned Peter’s identity when he found a camera caught in a web helpfully labeled with Peter’s name. Spider-Man foiled Lizard’s dastardly plan to turn humanity scaly and turned him back into Connors using an antidote. The police took Connors into custody.
he whole plot of No Way Home revolves around the idea that each of these villains die fighting Spider-Man, but as far as we know Lizard survived Amazing Spider-Man. Perhaps Lizard escaped and died duking it out with Garfield’s Spidey a second time.
J. Jonah Jameson
Unlike the other characters on this list, J. Jonah Jameson does not travel from a parallel universe. But J.K. Simmons does reprise his role from the Maguire series as the blowhard newsman who hates Spider-Man.
There are a few differences: The Jameson in Maguire’s world runs a newspaper; the one in Holland’s world makes videos for a blog and (later) a TV station. And J.K. Simmons has obviously aged between roles.
But why does the version of J. Jonah Jameson in Holland’s world look the same as the one in Maguire’s universe? Well, as the Marvel TV show Loki explains, different “variants” of the same person can exist across many universes. So there might be 2 J. Jonah Jamesons. Or 20. Or millions. Some of them look the same, some of them look different. Loki, for example, encounters several Loki variants. Some look exactly like him (and are played by Loki actor Tom Hiddleston). Some are women. Some are men. Some are children. One is an alligator.
Similarly, there are many Peter Parkers. The three we happen to meet are all white dudes who look vaguely but not exactly like one another. (Seriously, can we cast a non-white Spider-Man already? What about a woman? Or just a dude with blonde instead of brown hair?)
Anyway, that’s why there are at least two J. Jonah Jameson variants who look exactly like J.K. Simmons.
So in case you’re not caught up on Sony’s Venom series, know that the most recent movie, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was kind of a rom-com between an ornery journalist named Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and the carnivorous alien symbiote that lives in his body: The two learn to live harmoniously together and feed on chickens rather than human brains. Yes, really. These movies are wild.
Anyway, at the end of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Eddie and Venom were taking a vacation in a crappy island hotel room when suddenly they were transported to a really nice hotel room (presumably in the world of Holland’s Peter Parker). Peter’s face popped up on TV, and Venom licked Peter’s face.
If you are a Venom die-hard who will spend all of No Way Home waiting for Venom to show up and chomp off Lizard’s head, I have bad news for you. Venom doesn’t make an appearance until a mid-credits scene. In it, a bartender explains to Eddie Broke that there are superheroes like Iron Man in this universe. Eddie thinks, “Hey, maybe I should go talk to that Peter Parker kid,” at which point he’s sucked back into his own universe. Womp womp.
But—wait for it—a bit of Venom symbiote is left behind, no doubt to infect someone in this universe.
It’s worth pointing out that, yet again, neither Venom nor Eddie seemed to know Spider-Man’s secret identity, so it’s weird that they even got sucked into this universe in the first place. But whatever, at least they got to hear some cool stories about Thanos while they were there.
Mary Jane Watson
Kirsten Dunst played Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s love interest in the Maguire films. Though Dunst sadly does not appear in No Way Home, Maguire’s Peter does offer a quick update on his relationship status. He says that while the couple has encountered their fair share of relationship bumps (read: MJ got kidnapped a bunch more times), they found a way to stay together. Hooray for love!
Emma Stone played Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacey in the Garfield Amazing Spider-Man movies. There was little hope of her popping up in No Way Home considering her character died in The Amazing Spider-Man 2/
In many comic book runs, Peter Parker falls in love with MJ after the death of Gwen, but Garfield’s Peter has not found love since Gwen died. He does, however, find some solace in the final act of the film when the version of MJ played by Zendaya falls from the Statue of Liberty. Garfield’s Peter catches and saves her, crying as he does, which is a very sweet moment. Do I want Andrew Garfield to do more Spider-Man movies? Maybe?!
In the final battle scene, after Garfield’s Spider-Man cures Electro, the hero removes his mask so the two can share a chummy moment.
Electro looks at Peter, disappointed. “You’re from Queens, you help the poor. I thought you might be Black,” Electro says. “Well, there’s probably a Black Spider-Man out there somewhere.”
And there is. Miles Morales, a Black-Puerto Rican teen living in Brooklyn. has taken up the mantle of Spider-Man in the comics and several other Spider stories, including the Oscar-winning animated film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse and a recent, critically acclaimed Spider-Man video game.
Holland’s Spider-Man movies have even hinted that Miles may exist in Holland’s universe. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker met the thief Aaron Davis, played by Donald Glover. Davis is canonically an anti-hero called the Prowler and Miles’ uncle. Davis even mentioned in the film that he had a young nephew. It’s probably only a matter of time before Miles gets his own live action film in Sony’s expanding cinematic unvierse.
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