Spider-Man: No Way Home’s most significant MCU connections

Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME.
Tom Holland stars as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Strange in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. /

Spider-Man: No Way Home not only correlates to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also has many ties to separate Marvel movie universes.

There are plenty of connections in Spider-Man: No Way Home to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranging from Iron Man’s Dum-E robot from the very first film to a billboard of Rogers the Musical as seen in the currently running Disney Plus series, Hawkeye. But focusing on the most significant links to the MCU, we begin with the previous movie in the trilogy – Spider-Man: No Way Home picks up right where Spider-Man: Far From Home left off; the final seconds of that movie is the jumping off point for this one. Mysterio framed Peter and before dying, reveals to the world that he is Spider-Man. This throws Peter’s life into a tailspin, where he, his friends, and Aunt May are questioned by law enforcement.

When Peter tells Damage Control (the organization introduced in Spider-Man: Homecoming) that he was with Nick Fury in Europe, they disclose that Fury has been off-world for a year. We learned at the end of Far From Home that Fury had Talos pose as him, while Fury was running SWORD in a space station. Peter now knows that whoever he was working with was not Fury, but he doesn’t have time to worry about that.

Spider-Man hires Matt Murdock as his lawyer, which is the first proper appearance of Daredevil in the MCU. Charlie Cox returns as the hero from the Netflix series Daredevil, which was only loosely connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is not a coincidence that the most recent episode of Hawkeye exposed that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin (the main villain in the Daredevil show) has also officially joined the MCU.

With the controversy surrounding their lives, Peter, MJ, and Ned fail to get into college, so Spidey turns to his fellow Avenger Doctor Strange. The two travelled to Titan together in Avengers: Infinity War, ultimately losing to Thanos and getting dusted away. Then they returned to fight Thanos on Earth, five years later in Avengers: Endgame, and helped to defeat the mad Titan.

Strange discloses to Spider-Man that he is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme because he was blipped away for five years, which means Wong is now in charge. As the world’s leading mystical authority, it makes Wong’s attendance in Shang-Chi even more curious. He sparred against Abomination in a Chinese underground cage match for money. Perhaps it was the easiest way for him to raise funds for the Sanctum Sanctorum’s upkeep.

Against Wong’s advisement, Strange attempts a spell to erase everyone’s knowledge of Peter’s superhero identity. A lot of the mind-bending imagery from the Doctor Strange solo movie are employed during the wizard’s No Way Home segments. Strange knocks Peter’s astral form out of his physical body and then takes him on a wild trip through the mirror dimension. Also, Ned uses Strange’s sling ring to form portals even quicker than the doctor could, since Ned is naturally more open-minded than Stephen initially was to the magical world.

Peter’s interference in Strange’s spell causes the magic to go haywire and has a sort of opposite effect of its intention: instead of people forgetting Peter is Spider-Man, those who know his identity throughout the multiverse are brought into this universe. The Loki series has already established the concept, where we see many versions of the same character from alternate realities, and this movie delivers on that setup in a big way.

Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Spider-verse connections

All in all, eight heroes and villains from non-MCU Marvel movies are brought into this cinematic universe in Spider-Man: No Way Home. First, Spidey faces off against Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. He is resentful that Peter prevented him from holding the power of the sun in the palm of his hand, but of all the bad guys, Doc Ock shows the most promise of being rehabilitated.

Then Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin joins the fray. He was featured throughout the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and was the primary antagonist in the original Spider-Man film. His experiments on himself caused him to experience serious psychological problems and those are on full display in No Way Home. Doctor Strange captures Rhys Ifans’ Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man, which is a separate film series, directed by Marc Webb.

Jamie Foxx reprises his Electro part from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In that film his electric powers made him appear blue, but he gets redesigned here following a confrontation with Parker. A Stark arc reactor powers Electro up to extremely high levels.

The final villain is the Sandman from Spider-Man 3, played by Thomas Haden Church. Although a criminal, that realm’s Peter was always sympathetic toward Sandman because he was trying to help his sick daughter. In No Way Home, Sandman initially sides with Spider-Man when he is fighting Electro.

Finally, the two other Spider-verse heroes come to help the MCU Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield portrayed Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man two-fer, while Tobey Maguire originated the role in the Sam Raimi trilogy. The exchanges between the three Spider-Men are often touching, while remaining light and amusing. When Garfield’s Peter doubts his own Spider-prowess, Maguire’s Peter tells Garfield that he is “amazing”, as a pun to the title of his movies.

The past versions of Spider-Man each have important moments in No Way Home that callback to their own series. The Andrew Garfield Spider-Man saves MJ from falling off of the Statue of Liberty, unlike when he failed stop Gwen from hitting the bottom of a tower in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Then the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man stops Peter from killing Green Goblin; Tom Holland’s Spider-Man threatens to impale Osborn with his goblin glider, similar to how he died fighting his real rival in the first Spider-Man.

The Miles Morales Spider-Man does not show up in No Way Home, yet Electro does speculate that there has to be a black Spider-Man in some universe. However, Miles is likely already in the main MCU timeline since Aaron Davis (not yet known by the alias Prowler) mentioned his nephew in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Davis is Miles’ uncle in the Marvel comics.

In the Spider-Man: No Way Home mid-credits scene, Tom Hardy’s Venom is also stuck in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is learning about Iron Man, Hulk, and the Avengers from a bartender before being sent back home, like the rest of the multiversally displaced. The act of him being transported into an alternate reality was presented in a Venom: Let There Be Carnage stinger. Unlike the other characters, Venom was not aware of Spider-Man, so his inclusion is a bit of a head scratcher. It is possible that he was brought over just for a short time, during the climactic multiverse ripple, which would explain why he was still at the same hotel from Let There Be Carnage when he returned home.

The post-credits foreshadow Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; instead of a single scene, what we get is more like a trailer for that movie. And we are yet to learn what the catalyst for the madness is, with several possibilities popping up recently, such as Scarlet Witch bending reality in WandaVision, Sylvie killing Kang the Conqueror in Loki, or even Strange and Parker’s spells in No Way Home. The final shot that caps off the sequence is of an evil Doctor Strange that very well could be the same one who was created in the MCU animated series What If…?. At this point, the madness will likely be started in the Doctor Strange sequel itself.

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What did you think of Spider-Man: No Way Home? Are you looking forward to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Let us know in the comments below!