The following article is going to contain Loki spoilers and MCU speculations, so hop away to one of our other articles if you’d prefer not to read too much information.
The rampant rumor swirling around Jon Watts’s upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home is that the third MCU solo Spidey movie will somehow plunge our hero (and audiences) into a full-on multiversal adventure… and the recent finale of the Disney+ series Loki did its part to fan those flames. At the risk of spoiling Loki for anyone who hasn’t yet viewed it, the show’s first season ended with the death of a significant character, which in turn supposedly broke up the Sacred Timeline and re-established a series of stacked universes, or a Multiverse, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If that’s the case, then Spider-Man: No Way Home could be the first movie to deal with those serious repercussions.
However, despite the onslaught of online speculation, I’m not fully convinced that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures are going to saddle Spider-Man: No Way Home with the burden of being a full-on Multiverse movie, and instead will operate as a gradual tease for the direction that all of the stories can go -- the same way the Disney+ shows have been doing so far.
Let’s take this from the perspective of the Disney+ shows. Since WandaVision, Marvel fans have gotten ahead of themselves predicting major characters or massive plot swings that could have had enormous implications on the MCU, as a whole. Some of them panned out (see Kang the Conqueror in the last Loki episode). Others never did (that Mephisto rumor that dogged WandaVision for the bulk of its run). The takeaway should be that Marvel’s Phase Four is rolling out at a deliberate pace, and all of the plot developments sitting on a white board in Kevin Feige’s office aren’t going to land in one movie or TV series.
Which brings us to Spider-Man: No Way Home, a sequel that’s only helping to spread the rampant MCU rumors by withholding a proper trailer from fans. While we may not know the plot of the movie, we have to assume that the Spider-Man sequel has to pick up the thread that was revealed at the very end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, where J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) used information provided by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to share Spidey’s secret identity to the world. That, alone, is a big enough story to propel a sequel, though there are a few other pieces we officially can confirm.
For starters, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home ahead of his own sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, dropping in theaters March 2022. It’s possible Strange plays a significant role in No Way Home, and rumors point to him collecting several Spider-Man villains in a Multiversal “jail,” only to have them get released by Tom Holland’s Spidey. Though I’ve heard that rumor from numerous sources, that feels like a massive step for a Spider-Man movie to make, and I’m more inclined to believe that Cumberbatch makes a cameo that’s closer to his part in Thor: Ragnarok, where he points our hero in the right direction on a mission. Some say Spider-Man may approach Strange in search of a solution to his secret-identity issue, and that makes more sense to me than a Multiversal Prison for numerous classic Spidey foes.
However, we think that we can confirm at least two villains for Spider-Man: No Way Home that have ties to the previous Spider-Man movies made at Sony. Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina both have let it slip to the press that they are appearing in No Way Home, playing Electro and Doc Ock for the first time in the MCU. That would be very cool, and a good way to start pulling back the curtain on the larger possibility of every Spidey movie being tied together.
Fans, though, have taken those seeds and run with it to proclaim that in addition to Foxx and Molina, Spider-Man: No Way Home is also going to pack in The Sinister Six, consisting of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Rhys Ifans’ The Lizard, Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman, and possibly Paul Giamatti’s Rhino, from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sorry, but I’m not ready to go all the way out on that limb and believe that Marvel and Sony are asking Watts, in only his third MCU movie, to juggle Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, all of those villains, and the cast members that have been part of the Spidey saga since Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Wait, though. There’s more! Knowing that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will need plenty of assistance tackling all of these villains that have been sucked into his universe, the rumor mill on Spider-Man: No Way Home also believes that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are suiting up for this sequel, and will fight alongside MCU Spidey in a spectacular battle at the Statue of Liberty. Oh, and there’s a persistent rumor that Charlie Cox is going to bring his interpretation of Matt Murdoch over from the Netflix Daredevil series, representing Peter Parker in a courtroom trial because he’s accused of murdering Mysterio.
This movie better be four hours long if it hopes to do any of this justice.
Here’s the thing. Spider-Man: No Way Home won’t challenge The Snyder Cut for run-time superiority. It will probably be half of that length (a little over two hours, just like Far From Home), and will get to half of the rumors that have been swirling around. I do think that Doctor Strange will appear as a way to explain the Multiverse to Peter, but I believe the bulk of the MCU Multiverse ramifications will be saved until next year’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And I do think that Alfred Molina and Jamie Foxx will play versions of the villains that appeared in the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man movies… but I think they will be the only villains that make the leap to the MCU. Their presence explains HOW a Sinister Six movie could play out. But I think that will be a separate future movie -- one that Sony controls, because they struggled with sharing Tom Holland with Marvel, so I don’t see them handing Maguire and Garfield over without complaint.
As for Maguire and Garfield, I do believe they appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home… but as the final scene in the movie, or as a mid-credits stinger. Holland will get his own solo adventure (which he deserves), but the former Spidey actors will appear at the very end, setting the stage for a live-action SpiderVerse movie that will arrive a few years down the road. Asking Spider-Man: No Way Home to juggle all of the rumored storylines in one streamlined movie sounds like a mistake, and I can’t see Marvel or Sony taking the Spider-Man 3 route of cramming in too much, potentially ruining what has been a very successful series. A trailer would go a long way towards clearing up what we can expect from Spider-Man: No Way Home in December. Let’s hope it arrives online soon.