By far the biggest movie of the pandemic, both in terms of pop-cultural cachet and overall box office earnings (over $1 billion, as of this writing), Spider-Man: No Way Home entranced moviegoers worldwide upon its release in mid-December 2021.
Except in the Philippines.
For reasons that change depending on whom one asks, Philippine fans had to wait an excruciating three weeks to catch their favorite wall-crawler(s) in action. By now, the film’s been out in local cinemas for just over a week, and it is nothing less than spectacular.
Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s previous Spidey outings (Homecoming and Far From Home) were fine vehicles for everybody’s favorite wall-crawler, and Tom Holland (The Impossible) proved himself an immensely likable Peter Parker, his solo adventures were primarily built around events, concepts, and characters from other Marvel films. In No Way Home, we get a truly Spider-Man-centric story that this writer still can’t believe exists.
Now, seeing as a huge part of the fun with this franchise’s films and TV series stems from guessing what happens next, we’ve got eight burning questions the MCU MUST answer, moving forward!
SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen the film yet, please do yourself a favor, and catch it before moving on to the rest of this article!
– You’ve been warned! –
Where does the story go from here?
In No Way Home, Spider-Man asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, TV’s Sherlock) to erase the world’s memory of Peter Parker in order to prevent a Multiversal cataclysm. In addition to having Peter take responsibility for his actions, this fateful act finally removes him from Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr., Chaplin) enormous shadow. Entertaining as it was to see him as Stark’s unofficial protégé, the Spider-Man character has always worked best when he was someone the reader could relate to; whether it was missing classes, sewing his costume, or struggling to pay his bills, Peter Parker was defined as much by his struggle to live a normal life as his Uncle Ben’s immortal advice.
To be fair, with the sheer number of adaptations we’ve gotten over the years, the filmmakers didn’t necessarily have to bring this version of Spidey down to earth, but the sheer audacity of that decision will now enable us to see what a classic Spider-Man can bring to the MCU party, and we can’t wait!
How does Strange’s spell work?
Something that isn’t made entirely clear is the specifics of Strange’s spell. Was Peter’s entire life wiped from existence or just people’s memory of it? And if they remember Spider-Man but not Peter, does that mean that the doctored Mysterio video doesn’t exist anymore? But if physical traces of Peter are gone, what credentials and/or resources did he use to get that apartment at the end?
Furthermore, does the spell affect people who were either dead (Tony and May) or, say, not on Earth at the moment of casting, such as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, The Incredibles) and/or Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother)? What about the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor? How will they react when they come home and literally nobody remembers who this Avenger is?
What happened to Peter 1’s Uncle Ben?
We all know the line about power and responsibility, and May’s delivery of it here is downright devastating. What we don’t know, however, is whatever happened to the MCU’s Uncle Ben. Was he murdered, like every other version of the character, or did he die of natural causes? Or is he actually alive, and the suitcase Peter used with Ben’s initials on it in the last movie was just something he left behind on his way out? And, if Holland’s Aunt May is Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler), does that imply that his Uncle Ben is of at least that level of aesthetic awesomeness? Clearly, the possibilities are endless – let the fan-casting begin!
What happened to the reformed villains?
One of the best aspects of No Way Home was its incorporation of multiple facets of Spider-Man’s cinematic history in a manner that wasn’t mere pandering. Bringing back villains such as Doc Ock (Alfred Molina, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse), and Electro (Jamie Foxx, Baby Driver) may have been nostalgia-tinted stunt casting of the highest order, but screenwriters Chris McKenna Erik Sommers managed to give them meaningful roles in the story that rarely amounted to mere fan service (with all due apologies to Lizard and Sandman).
While it was somewhat infuriating that Peter would defy Strange, it ultimately made some kind of sense when you realize that at this stage of his career, his Spidey hadn’t yet learned that you can’t save everyone. But, given how things turn out at the end, does that mean the reformed villains each returned to their timelines to the precise moment that they died? And if they didn’t die, does this mean we can get future adventures with these versions of the villains?
Can Peter 2 have one more movie?
More than a few people got misty-eyed when Doc Ock found himself face to face with his Peter (Tobey Maguire, Pleasantville), and for good reason: 2004’s Spider-Man 2 is widely regarded as one of the best superhero films of all time, and much of its staying power comes from director Sam Raimi’s (Evil Dead, Drag Me To Hell) decision to go classic in his treatment of the characters and their world.
That being said, how incredible would it be to go back to that universe for one last round of super-heroics from Maguire, and see the life he described to his counterparts? And what if Doc Ock was a friend in this one who hadn’t died at the bottom of the Hudson River? And while we’re speculating, maybe Sony will let Raimi cast John Malkovich (Con Air) as the Vulture and actually pay Kirsten Dunst (Maguire’s MJ) a fair amount this time, instead of just, you know, rebooting the whole thing.
Will Peter 3 be amazing again?
Speaking of reboots, Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick… Boom!) had the unenviable position of stepping into the role of Spidey on the heels of Raimi’s massively successful trilogy, but his enthusiasm and passion for the character were never in doubt. In No Way Home, his character arc is on par with Holland’s, as he is given a chance at redemption that his film series’ premature cancellation never allowed for, and his mid-air save of MJ here is one of the biggest cheer-worthy moments in a film full of them. Perfectly balancing Spidey’s inherent sense of humor with the pathos of a man pushed past his limits, Garfield’s performance is a stunning reminder of just how good he could have been with the right material.
With Sony intent on continuing their questionable series of Spider-villain-centric films (Venom and Morbius, anyone?), why not take this chance to class them up by having Garfield back in action on that side of the fence, while Holland takes care of business on the Disney (MCU) end? That way, everybody — especially the fans — gets to go home happy.
Are the Netflix Marvel shows completely canon now?
When all Marvel TV production was consolidated under Marvel Entertainment, head honcho Kevin Feige was deliberately coy on which shows would remain canon, and which ones we’d need to pretend never happened (*cough* Inhumans *cough). As time went on, and shows like Wandavision and Loki were being touted as the first “official” MCU shows, Feige made it known that he wasn’t completely closing his doors to the shows that had already been made (even if he wasn’t saying which ones would be retained). As Netflix’s superlative Daredevil and Jessica Jones languished in a legally-mandated 2-year purgatory, hope dwindled that that corner of the Marvel Universe would ever see the light of day again.
And then, it happened: Feige announced that Cox would be Daredevil again, but didn’t specify the context. Within a week, Vincent D’Onofrio (MiB, Jurassic World) showed up as Wilson Fisk — Marvel’s Kingpin of crime — on TV’s Hawkeye, and barely a day later, Charlie Cox (Stardust) popped up in No Way Home as Matt Murdock.
Does this mean that a new Daredevil series is in the works? A new film, perhaps (sorry, Affleck)? At this point, we’d be happy with a new season to pick up the plot threads from Daredevil Season 3! But would Disney allow it to be R-rated, like the original show? (But they’re allowing Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool to be R, aren’t they?)
Was this just a Multiverse of Madness warm-up?
Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness (directed by Sam Raimi!) will be making its bow in May, and it’s been rumored that that film will have an even larger roll call of heroes than even Avengers: Endgame. Mind-boggling as it was to see Spider-Man and his amazing variants in No Way Home, what if that was just the appetizer to the main course that we’re about to get? Could it include the cast of the X-Men films? What about Jessica Alba’s Fantastic Four, which had (eventual) Captain America himself, Chris Evans as the Human Torch? After all, with an infinite number of realities all threatening to intersect, who’s to say who (or what) should or shouldn’t be included?
Ok, maybe not Ben Affleck’s Daredevil.
If watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe expand, grow, and evolve since the Iron Man film took flight in 2008 has taught this viewer anything, it’s that there are always possibilities. And if MCU mastermind Kevin Feige can make characters as eclectic as Rocket Raccoon work, then anything can happen if we just wait long enough.
Make mine Marvel!