Full spoilers ahead!!!!
Spider-Man: No Way Home has been out for almost a week now, and if you’re anything like me, it’s still burned in your brain like a sorcerer’s spell. This movie did the impossible. Not only did it service the MCU’s Peter Parker, but also all of his supporting characters, two other Spider-Men, and five classic villains from across the multiverse. It’s a movie that shouldn’t work on paper, and yet it’s easily one of the greatest Spider-Man films of all time.
No Way Home navigates a lot of complicated plot points with perfectly-written simplicity, but it did leave us with a few lingering questions, specifically around the implications of Dr. Strange’s second spell in the climactic final battle. In this article, I will address some of these questions, and discuss what they may mean for our favorite characters moving forward.
DID THE NO WAY HOME SPELL BRING ANY OTHER SONY CHARACTERS INTO THE MCU?
This is a question that I’ve seen a lot of people asking about this week. To recap the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker goes to Dr. Strange to ask if there is any way to travel back in time to make the world forget that he was Spider-Man. Strange explains that the Time Stone no longer exists, but he suggests a spell called the Runes of Kauf-Kaul (I’m not sure of the spelling here). The magic allowed Strange to simply wipe the minds of everyone in the world, causing them to forget Spider-Man’s identity.
According to Wong, this spell, “travels the dark borders between known and unknown realities,” which sounds…you know…pretty dangerous. And when Peter tries change the spell after its already begun, everything goes awry and the villains from the multiverse begin crossing through into the MCU. Namely, Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, Lizard, and Venom (who we see in the post credits scene). We also see that this spell brought in Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men.
But, did the spell bring in any other characters? After all, there are plenty of other characters from the Raimi and Webb franchises who knew that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. This includes characters like Kirsten Dunst’s MJ, James Franco’s Harry Osborne, and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. This last one is particularly interesting, as Gwen died at the end of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 and fans are wondering if there is any way that the events of No Way Home might have brought her back. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
As far as we can tell, the characters that we see in No Way Home are the only ones that were brought into the MCU by the spell. Dr. Strange stopped the first spell by encasing it in a magical cube before it could do any more damage, essentially closing the door for any other multiversal characters to be brought into their universe. This is why we see all those glowing silhouettes appearing in the sky at the end of the film, after Norman Osborne breaks open the magical cube.
These silhouettes are presumably ALL of the other characters across all universes that knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man. This would include the Tobey and Andrew universes, as well as any other universes that are out there, such as the zombie-hunting Spider-Man from What If…? and the various Peter Parkers from the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (if Sony ever wants to connect that movie to the MCU multiverse). All of these characters were ABOUT to be pulled in, but were stopped by Dr. Strange when he issued the second spell. So unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there was an Emma Stone Gwen Stacy walking around New York during the events of this film, and she would still remain dead.
It’s interesting to note that Dr. Strange specifically yells at Peter, “You changed my spell 6 times!” And while this could just be a coincidence, these six changes ultimately brought six villains over into the MCU (as well as their Peters), so this could have been a very deliberate line to show us that each change he made brought over one character.
HOW DID THE VILLAINS GET RETURNED TO THEIR OWN UNIVERSES?
At the end of No Way Home, the second spell sent the 5 villains (plus Venom) back to their home universes, cured of their various woes. The film makes it very clear that if they weren’t cured, some of the villains would have been killed immediately upon returning home. Goblin would have been killed by his own glider just like in the original Spider-Man, Doc Ock would have drowned in the river with his reactor just like in Spider-Man 2, and Electro would have been zapped to death like he did in Amazing Spider-Man 2. But since these characters were ultimately cured, did they return in the present, along with their Peters, or in the past?
I think its safe to say that they returned to the exact moment that they left. The only difference is, rather than suffering their original fates, they would arrive cured of their woes and redeemed by the events of No Way Home. This would create what the Loki series called a Nexus event…a branch timeline in which they survive the events of their universes.
Goblin would arrive back in the greenhouse from Spider-Man as Norman Osborne, cured of his villainous alter ego. He would then be able to explain the situation to Maguire’s Spider-Man and work to redeem the damage that he had already done (namely, killing his lab assistant, the Oscorp board of directors, and his various terroristic activities across New York City). It’s probable that he would be arrested, but he wouldn’t be killed by his own glider and his son Harry would have never followed in his father’s footsteps.
[Click on Page 2 below for more on the ramifications of Doctor Strange’s spell.]