Surprising no one, Spider-Man: No Way Home won big at the box office during its opening weekend. Its $253 million take represents the best domestic opening weekend of the pandemic. In total, No Way Home netted $587.2 million internationally during the first weekend, which gives it the third-largest worldwide opening weekend after Avengers: Endgame ($1.2 billion) and Avengers: Infinity War ($640 million). With so many fans having seen the movie, many are wondering what the No Way Home ending means for Spider-Man going forward in the MCU and Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU). Before we explain, we’ll remind you that massive spoilers follow below. You’ll want to read our spoiler-free Spider-Man: No Way Home review if you haven’t seen the MCU blockbuster.
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Spider-Man: No Way Home ending explained
It turns out that nearly every No Way Home spoiler was accurate. I’m not just referring to the increasing number of confirmations that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are in the movie, but everything else. The film’s entire plot, including the ending and post-credits scenes, leaked online in the weeks preceding the premiere.
No Way Home delivers an amazing standalone Spider-Man story. It’s easily the best Tom Holland has ever been, and the best MCU Spider-Man movie. But it wouldn’t be possible without everything that happened before. It’s not just the previous Spider-Man franchises that make the movie so great. It’s all the MCU adventures that advanced the arc of the movie’s main Peter Parker (Tom Holland).
By the end of the movie, we get a heartbroken, angry Peter, who has just lost Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) despite trying to do the right thing. And we’re all heartbroken as well.
Moreover, we have a more mature Peter who realizes that fixing the world’s multiverse problem will only lead to more personal heartache. He tells Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to repeat the spell he concocted initially, the one where everybody in the MCU forgets who Peter Parker is. They won’t just forget that Peter is Spider-Man. They’ll forget they knew Peter. Even Strange is unwilling to go along with the plan initially, acknowledging how much he’ll miss Peter.
Why the No Way Home ending makes sense for Spider-Man
But reason prevails, and Strange casts the spell. The ending of No Way Home shows us a world with no recollection of Peter Parker. MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Happy (Jon Favreau) all forget who Peter is. But everybody knows that Spider-Man exists. And we do get to see a brand new, self-made Spider-Man suit at the end of the film, with Peter swinging over the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree.
The first post-credits scene is also essential for the future of the MCU, as it tells us that a part of Venom (Tom Hardy) remains in this reality rather than moving back to his own timeline once Strange completes the spell.
As bittersweet as the victory might be, it makes perfect sense for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s arc. Sony and Marvel needed this particularly heartbreaking development to move forward with the character. And No Way Home lets the studios soft-reboot Spider-Man, and move forward to Peter’s college years without any baggage.
But the ending leaves in place the one thing that matters most: Peter’s personal development. And a future where any story is possible, including a face-off against Venom.
The Avengers connection
With one spell, Strange removed Peter’s connection to the Avengers. The earth’s mightiest heroes might know there’s a Spider-Man. They might remember that Spider-Man fought alongside them against Thanos. But they don’t know who Peter is and don’t have a personal attachment to the man behind the mask.
Hawkeye has already shown us a hint of this. As we already explained, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) has no idea who Peter is. That’s because the action in Spider-Man: No Way Home, including the ending, happens before Christmas 2024. That’s when Hawkeye takes place in the official MCU timeline.
The Avengers forgetting that Peter is Spider-Man isn’t a plot hole. Strange’s spell doesn’t change the past. Everything that happened before No Way Home’s ending stays in place. You can’t erase the past (without Infinity Stones). It’s just that nobody remembers Spider-Man’s true identity. The spell likely erased evidence of Peter’s identity everywhere, not just people’s memories. Whether it’s printed articles, videos, or artificial intelligence like Friday and Edith, evidence that Peter Parker is Spider-Man is gone.
Put differently; the Avengers will probably want Spider-Man to join their ranks in the future. Or they might need his help as they did before.
Giving up the high-tech suit and toys also indicates that Peter is putting the days where Spider-Man had plenty of Stark tech at his disposal behind him. The Spider-Man: No Way Home ending makes that very clear. We’re getting a Spider-Man closer to the original comics rather than an overpowered Spidey with “instant-kill” capabilities, Stark’s AI, and access to technology worth billions of dollars.
MJ and Ned
Peter is now alone, truly alone, having suffered significant losses along the way. But that helped him grow. He continues to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man despite the massive emotional toll.
Losing Aunt May hurt Peter more than losing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Endgame. It’s more personal. And it’s an event that Peter caused indirectly. That guilt is part of what it means to be Spider-Man. And the Spider-Man: No Way Home ending gives us that.
Finally, we come to Peter losing MJ and Ned, at least for now. On the one hand, Peter can protect them more easily. They’re no longer connected to Spider-Man. On the other hand, this gives Sony and Marvel more options. It’s unlikely that MJ and Ned will disappear from the MCU. But the relationship dynamic between the three might change in the future.
What comes after No Way Home?
Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s ending aside, Sony and Marvel have already confirmed that they’re working on the next Spider-Man trilogy. We also know that Spider-Man might soon appear in at least one other crossover. Doctor Strange 2 is always a possibility. The big Avengers 5 crossover is another.
Holland is still coy about his Spider-Man future, as he’s likely negotiating a lucrative contract for the years to come. But it’s safe to say that Spider-Man has a glorious future ahead. That’s one thing that No Way Home ending ensures.
The SSU and MCU are firmly connected. Sony has three Spider-Men in live-action movies, and it might soon need one of its own for the universe where Venom and Morbius reside. Andrew Garfield made quite an impression in No Way Home, and he’s been trending for days. Some rumors already say that Garfield might appear as Spider-Man again. Maguire could also continue his stint as Spider-Man in future movies, although the focus is mostly on Garfield.
Then there’s Miles Morales from the Spider-Verse animated movie. He’ll probably move to live-action in the near future.
Sticking the landing with the Spider-Man: No Way Home ending allows Sony and Marvel to do all of that in the coming years and more.