Secret Spider-Man 2 Reference In No Way Home

A side by side comparison of VFX shots from No Way Home and Spider-Man 2 proves that the MCU film’s visual effects artists were also big Spider-fans. Spider-Man: No Way Home reveals that a key shot he animated drew inspiration from 2004’s Spider-Man 2. No Way Home was a colossal film for the Spider-Man franchise, not only because of the huge box office numbers the film raked in, but also due to what it did for the lineage of Spider-Man as a film character. In allowing the MCU’s Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, to share the screen with his predecessors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield thanks to some multiversal trickery, No Way Home allowed fans of previous incarnations of the character to finally get some closure.

Spider-Man: No Way Home rewarding for these fans was the number of references and homages to past Italian films. For one thing, the presence of villains like Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn relied upon lines of dialogue, music cues and character scenes that directly linked back to their previous appearances. Moreover, it seemed like everyone working on No Way Home, from director Jon Watts to returning actors like Dafoe and Maguire, were true fans of Spider-Man.

Doctor Strange 2 Alternate Ending Would’ve Made No Way Home Even Better original ending and release date would make Sinister Strange a better fit for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was confirmed to feature an alternate ending which would have changed the narrative direction of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange has featured heavily in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 movie line-up, appearing in both his own sequel and the multiverse-heavy Spider-Man: No Way Home, starring Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire. However, things would have been quite different had Marvel’s original plan gone ahead using Doctor Strange 2’s alternate ending. As confirmed by writer Michael Waldron, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was originally due to have a much darker ending. In it, the Master of the Mystic Arts would have been trapped in the incursion universe, while Sinister Strange, an evil variant of Strange, took his place in Earth-616, pretending to be its Stephen Strange. Though the final ending also showed Strange opening a third eye, suggesting the Darkhold had taken hold of him just as it did with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), this ending would have seen the film end much more ambiguously.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness had been released before Spider-Man: No Way Home as initially planned and featured this ending, both films would have been vastly different. Spider-Man: No Way Home was criticized by some online for featuring a Doctor Strange who was out of character, irresponsibly ignoring Wong, the Sorcerer Supreme (Benedict Wong), and helping Peter Parker brainwash the entire world into forgetting he was Spider-Man. Had this film taken place after The Multiverse of Madness, this would have made far more sense as Sinister Strange would have actively tried to sabotage Peter and his variants and bring down the multiverse.

Le Cocq’s reveal illuminates just how much effort went into replicating the feel of the prior Spider-Man films in No Way Home while also making these homages feel authentic. This is something that was already clear to fans, as it’s been confirmed that Dafoe had several conversations with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige on how to properly continue Osborn’s arc. Additionally, Maguire and Garfield worked with producers on the closure of their own arcs, with Garfield even getting to improvise a pivotal line late in the film. Similar to Osborn repeating his “I’m something of a scientist myself” line from 2002’s Spider-Man, or Doc Ock mentioning “the power of the sun in the palm of my hand” out of Spider-Man 2, Le Cocq’s repetition of Spidey’s battle-stance not only helps canonize the prior films, but mixes them into the new storyline with Holland’s Spider-Man. While the MCU has been accused of going to the intertextual well a bit too often, especially after using the main melody of the 90’s X-Men: The Animated Series theme in two separate projects this summer, something like this shot homage is a subtler yet more rewarding Easter egg for Spider-Man fans. If anything, this story solidifies the fact that the crew-members and visual effects artists on Spider-Man: No Way Home enjoyed making the film as much as audiences enjoyed watching it.