The culmination of the Homecoming trilogy was an emotional endeavour for the filmmaking team from the very outset. With the character of Peter Parker in his last year of high school and the eyes of the world on him, it was clear that Spider-Man: No Way Home would be the final chapter in Peter Parker’s coming of age story. In the previous films, Peter really has been the spider-boy, and this film is about him becoming the Spider-Man.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
In every exploration of Peter Parker’s life – from the comic books to the television series to the Spider-Man™ trilogy directed by Sam Raimi to the two The Amazing Spider-Man™ films directed by Marc Webb to the MCU films – these words have been more than a motto; they have been a rite of passage, a call to action and an end to childhood. In Homecoming and Far From Home, Peter does make sacrifices in order to do the right thing but in those films, Peter Parker is still sheltered by his secret identity. In No Way Home, Peter’s choices will get a lot more complicated as Peter and Spider-Man’s paths become one.
“Peter always tries to do the right thing,” says Jon Watts, who returns again to the director’s chair with Spider-Man™: No Way Home. But, Watts notes, the right thing isn’t always easy to determine – and sometimes, Peter can convince himself that “the right thing” is the thing that suits him. “He is torn between what he wants in the present moment and where his destiny is taking him,” Watts continues, “and sometimes situations that initially seem very clear cut are revealed to be much more complex.”
It’s never been more difficult for Peter to figure out what’s right than right now, according to producer Kevin Feige. “No Way Home starts immediately after the events of Far From Home, which was always something we wanted to do in a story – start right immediately at that moment,” he says. “We’re finally able to do that here, and it doesn’t go well for Peter. As he starts his senior year, it is very chaotic and a dichotomy to where we met him in Homecoming, walking into his sophomore year.”
No Way Home is the culmination of the Homecoming trilogy… and the start of a multiverse of possibilities. In the first film, Homecoming, Peter gains a mentor in Tony Stark. Peter desperately wants to join the Avengers, but Tony Stark advises him to focus on being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In the second film, Far From Home, having lost his mentor and taken that to heart, he discovers that being Spider-Man means when duty comes calling, he must answer. At the end of that film, Peter is ready to be his own man and the hero that everyone wants him to be – when suddenly, his identity is revealed and he is framed for the crime of murdering Quentin Beck (a/k/a Mysterio).
“When we ended the last movie, we were like, ‘Wow, we really blew things up. How are the next writers going to get out of this jam?’” says Chris McKenna, one of the movie’s credited writers, crafting the screenplay with Erik Sommers, based on the MARVEL Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. “And now, here we are.”
With Mysterio having revealed Spider-Man’s secret identity, and a less-hirsute J. Jonah Jameson having broadcast that identity to the world, Peter finds himself at the centre of extreme controversy. “His world is turned upside down,” says McKenna. “He had his ‘I am Iron Man’ moment, but he didn’t get to make it. It was forced on him from the grave by Beck. He’s hounded by J. Jonah Jameson and framed as a murderer. So at a moment when everything should be going great – he’s about to be a senior in high school, he has a girlfriend, he’s found harmony between being Spider-Man and being Peter Parker – the whole thing is upended.”
“The world knows who he is,” says producer Amy Pascal, noting that every moment has been leading to this: first Ned, then Aunt May, then MJ learned of Peter’s double life, and of course the Avengers know who he is. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world found out. And the world’s reaction is, basically… that kid is Spider-Man? “I think it was a fantasy for Peter that people would find out and love him for being that character – but it’s the opposite.”
Peter’s infamy becomes such a big problem that he begins to look for a creative solution that would put his world back on its axis. “Peter Parker can handle a lot, but when he starts to see his friends being affected by his actions unfairly, that is emotionally draining for him,” Feige explains. “What would Peter do? What does he have access to in the MCU to undo this? Well, he knows Doctor Strange, who’s down on Bleecker Street. He could just ask him to magically fix it all, just turn back time so that his life can go back to normal. And as you might imagine, it’s not that easy.”
“Spider-Man’s biggest superpower is Peter Parker, and that’s because of his humility,” says Holland. “When that is at stake, his friends are at stake, his aunt is at stake, their lives have been ruined because of him, he knows he has to do something. What I love – and this is a constant reminder of how young Peter is – is the naivete of him going to Doctor Strange and saying, ‘Can you just make everyone forget who I am, is that something you can do?’ And that’s something only a kid would do.”
“If you think about what Peter’s been through, Strange is closely tied to a very substantial moment in his life,” says Watts. “In Endgame, Strange’s plan to stop Thanos leads to Peter losing Tony, his mentor, right in front of his eyes. I imagine Strange would feel some responsibility for that, so it’s understandable that if Peter came to Strange and asked for his help, Strange would oblige, even if it meant bending the rules a bit.”
That’s true even though Strange and Peter haven’t been super close in the past, according to Benedict Cumberbatch. “To begin with, it’s a matter of literally not knowing how to address each other,” he says. “This chapter of their story brings them far closer to knowing and understanding each other, because despite the intensity of their experience together so far and the importance of their joint efforts on Earth and the Q ship and Titan, they don’t actually know each other very well. Until this point, Strange has just seen a kid with extraordinary powers caught up in a problem far larger than either one of them.”
Strange’s spell opens the multiverse so that anyone in any universe who knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man could come into his world. It turns out, that’s a lot of people… Since the first Spider-Man movie in 2002, there have been a rogue’s gallery of villains that have discovered who is behind the Spidey mask: the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Sandman, Lizard, Electro – all have threatened other Peter Parkers from time to time. When Strange’s spell collapses the boundaries between these universes, all of them are brought together to face this Peter Parker.
JON WATTS (Director) most recently directed Marvel/Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man™: Homecoming and Spider-Man™: Far From Home. The latter is Sony Pictures’ most successful film of all time, with a global box office of over one billion dollars. Before Spider-Man, Watts directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed independent film Cop Car. The film, which premiered at Sundance in 2015, was shot in his hometown of Fountain, Colorado on a budget of $800k. He recently directed and executive produced the upcoming FX series “The Old Man,” starring Jeff Bridges, and next will direct a thriller for Apple Studios starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
CHRIS McKENNA (Co-Writer) is a writer/producer who, along with feature writing partner Erik Sommers, co-wrote the highest grossing Sony Pictures film of all time, Spider-Man™: Far From Home, as well as the hit films Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Spider-Man™: Homecoming, and The LEGO Batman Movie. McKenna previously served as executive producer and co-showrunner of the critically acclaimed TV series “Community” (NBC/Yahoo), for which he earned nominations for both a Primetime Emmy Award® for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and a Hugo Award for the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory.” He also shared a nomination for a Writers Guild of America Award for his work on “The Mindy Project.” McKenna began writing for TV on the long-running FOX animated series “American Dad.”
ERIK SOMMERS is a writer/producer who, along with Chris McKenna, co-wrote The LEGO Batman Movie, Spider-Man™: Homecoming, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Spider-Man™: Far from Home. Sommers has previously written for a number of television series, including NBC’s “Community,” ABC’s “Happy Endings,” and FOX’s “American Dad,” for which he shared a 2012 Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program and voiced several characters.
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