Spider-Man: No Way Home is nearly here, and to say that Tom Holland’s sixth appearance as friendly neighbourhood webslinger is hotly anticipated would be quite an understatement.
While we know that the arrival of the Multiverse will fundamentally change the Marvel Cinematic Universe, more giddy rumours abound of one of the most ambitious and yearned-for events in the MCU – and are strenuously denied by everyone involved.
But the making of No Way Home was fraught, with abrupt changes of storyline right up down to the wire. Holland told GQ recently: “You could ask the director, ‘What happens in act three?’ And his response would be, ‘I’m still trying to figure it out.”
The rewrites went on as late as Holland being on set, delivering his lines for the finale scene, before realising he didn’t like them and needed them reworked. The shifting state of the conclusion was because, Holland said, “some people were trying to figure out whether they wanted to do it, and we needed all of them or none”.
That’s a possible hint that the rumours of a team-up between different generations of Spider-Men which the Marvel fandom are abuzz about might have come together – or, indeed, that in the end they didn’t.
But what do we actually know about No Way Home, what are the rumours swirling around it, and what exactly is it that everyone’s so excited about?
Who’s in the cast of Spider-Man: No Way Home?
Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker, and he’s joined by the core of the cast from this era of Spider-Man films: Zendaya as his now-girlfriend MJ (and, as of this summer, she and Holland are officially seeing each other in real life too); Jacob Batalon as best pal Ned; Jon Favreau as Stark Industries security guy Happy Hogan; and Marisa Tomei as Parker’s aunt May.
Cumberbatch will return as master of the mystic arts Doctor Strange, and his mentor Wong, played by Benedict Wong, will be there too. They’ll all be grappling with some major villains – more of which later.
Who’s directing Spider-Man: No Way Home?
Jon Watts, who also directed Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, is back in the director’s chair, and Far From Home writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have returned to script No Way Home.
What do I need to know before I go in?
Right, a quick primer: since the end of Avengers: Endgame, when Holland’s Peter Parker was brought back from Thanos’ snap which wiped out half of the universe for about five years, things have generally been quite heavy going for Parker.
Aside from the death of his mentor, Tony Stark, at the climax of Endgame, he’s been attempting to reintegrate into life as a high schooler after half a decade away during The Blip, and getting used to his new status as one of Earth’s senior superheroes since most of the Avengers have died (Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America) or gone AWOL (Thor).
Far From Home saw Parker grudgingly step up to fill the hole left by Stark as mysterious ‘Elementals’ attacked cities across Europe, where Parker and pals were on a school trip.
At the end of that one, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quinton Beck – a disgruntled ex-employee of Stark who pretended to be the Multiverse-hopping Mysterio – let the world know that Parker was in fact Spider-Man. On the upside, Parker finally got it together with MJ, which was nice.
What’s going to happen in Spider-Man: No Way Home?
Judging by the trailers, we’re picking up not long after the events of the previous film, Spider-Man: Far From Home.
The loss of his anonymity is pretty tricky for Parker to handle, especially as it’s stopping him hanging out with MJ, so he gets in touch with resident reality wrangler Doctor Strange to see if he can’t jimmy up some kind of workaround which makes everyone forget he’s Spider-Man.
Wouldn’t you just know it though – taking a sledgehammer to space and time has some unintended consequences. Namely, the Multiverse has started spewing people into our reality who shouldn’t be here.
This film is going to take elements from the 2007 comic book storyline One More Day, in which Peter Parker makes a deal with Mephisto to save his Aunt May’s life in exchange for having his marriage to Mary Jane erased from existence.
What’s the Multiverse again?
It’s the reason a lot of people are very excited for No Way Home. Essentially, the idea is that the universe we’ve seen all of the Marvel films so far happen in is just one of an infinite number of parallel universes which exist alongside our own.
As the trailers have already shown, it means villains who fought previous generations of Spider-Men are now coming for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, and it also means a lot of Inception-style city-bending for Doctor Strange.
It’s an idea which has been a part of Marvel comic books for decades, and it’s been hinted at in other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. We know it’s going to be a big part of the next Doctor Strange film too – it’s entitled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Spider-Man franchise has been here before, though not in live action; in 2018 the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse brought together Spider-People (and Peter Porker, a Spider-Pig) from across different universes.
Which classic villains are making a comeback?
From Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, we’ve got a digitally de-aged Alfred Molina as mechanically appendaged scientist Doc Ock, and we’ve got Willem Dafoe’s cackling Green Goblin flying about on his hoverboard in one of the posters too. Thomas Haden Church will be back as Sandman, who appeared in Spider-Man 3.
From the Andrew Garfield years, Rhys Ifan’s Lizard will return, and Jamie Foxx will also reprise his role of Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
And, on top of that, JK Simmons will be returning as splenetic Maguire-era Daily Bugle editor J Jonah Jameson. Well, kind of.
“To me, it’s a slightly different character,” Simmons told the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “It’s the same blowhard; the same guy with less hair. Honestly, I kind of wish he had the same hair... The most important thing is that he’s still the same blowhard and he does have the same damn moustache and cigar, at least.”
What about classic Spider-Men?
Well now. There’s been a lot of rumours that Tobey Maguire, who played Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy between 2002 and 2007, and Andrew Garfield, keeper of the Spidey-senses between 2012 and 2014, will be leaping through to Holland’s universe on the tail of their respective bad guys.
Whether it’s a case of no smoke without former Spider-Men, or just the fevered wishes of people who’ve watched Into the Spider-Verse a lot lately, we don’t know. For his part, Garfield’s denied that he’s involved. Not that he’s not equally hyped about the idea.
“I understand why people are freaking out about the concept of that because I’m a fan as well,” Garfield told Variety. “You can’t help but imagine scenes and moments of ‘Oh, my God, how f***ing cool would it be if they did that?’
“But it’s important for me to say on the record that this is not something I’m aware I am involved in. But I know I’m not going to be able to say anything that will convince anyone that I don’t know what’s happening.”
Which is exactly what someone who’s jealously guarding a secret cameo would say. Holland has tried to play it down, with very little success.
“People don’t believe me when I say that [Maguire and Garfield] are not coming back,” the noted accidental spoiler machine has said. “But people are going to have to believe me at some point.”
Is there anything more solid to suggest we’ll see a Peter Parker pile-up?
There is an image floating around Twitter – purported to have been leaked from the finished film – showing Holland, Maguire and Garfield standing together, but whether that’s real or not is anyone’s guess.
The only other pointer is going to take some explaining. Someone on Twitter noticed that a piece of No Way Home artwork on a subscription box which delivers toys and treats for your dog shows both Holland’s Spider-Man and about four square inches of Maguire’s Spider-Man’s forehead.
— Dom (@Dominic_kravitz) November 25, 2021
It’s not exactly conclusive.
How long is Spider-Man: No Way Home?
According to IMBb, the running time of the movie is two hours and 28 minutes.
When can I see Spider-Man: No Way Home in the UK?
Sony has announced that Spider-Man: No Way Home will be in cinemas in the UK on December 15, two days earlier than originally planned. Tickets are on sale now.
There’s no word yet on when it’ll hit Disney+ though – though it looks like that could take a while.