"Spider-Man's real name is Peter Parker!"
Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio sent shockwaves throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he unearthed one of Hollywood's most protected narrative secrets. While the three respective live-action Spider-Man franchises all have unique qualities, they all carry one consistent parallel: protect the identity.
Spider-Man: Far From Home did what none of the eight previous live-action Spidey flicks were willing to do by revealing Peter Parker's arachnid alias to the entire world.
Similar to Avengers: Infinity War's big genocidal twist, fans are expecting Mysterio's revelation to be reversed. While Avengers: Endgame did prove that expectation to be true, as Hulk's snap brought all the dusted victims back, Thanos's initial decimation was not without permanent repercussions.
The five-year gap between snaps sent everyday civilian operations within the MCU into chaos. Even two years after Endgame hit theaters shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as well as the upcoming Hawkeye series are rooted in the aftermath of the Mad Titan's actions.
For that reason, Doctor Strange's spell will not come without consequence. In No Way Home's first trailer, Peter is most concerned with MJ, Aunt May, and Ned not remembering his day job, but what about his co-workers? Without further ado, let's examine whether the Avengers will wake up with arachnid amnesia.
EXAMINING STRANGE'S SPELL
Marvel trailer footage should always be taken with a grain of salt.
In the MCU's 13-year history, marketing material has included deleted scenes, fake dialogue, and even digitally-replaced costumes. Whatever Doctor Strange is cooking up could easily be cut in a deceiving way, but for now, let's analyze what's been shown.
"The entire world is about to forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man."
Last checked Earth's Mightiest Heroes are included in the "entire world." Even after Peter insists that some people still know his secret, Strange bluntly replies by noting "that's not how the spell works." If the good doctor is to be believed, this indicates the Avengers are in the dark once again on the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
The Infinity Gauntlet is not exactly sorcery, but it operates under similar rules.
When Hulk snapped in Avengers: Endgame, he emphasized afterward that he tried to bring back the sacrificed Natasha Romanoff as well. Unfortunately, Black Widow's death on Vormir was part of a permanent "soul for a soul" transaction, meaning her death was irreversible.
Based on Strange's limited dialogue, it appears his memory spell will have similar limitations. Everyone means everyone, including the three people Peter was most concerned about, and likely the entire Avengers roster as well.
As mentioned, almighty actions like snaps and sorcery need both restrictions and repercussions. Without distinct parameters, things like Strange's spell and the Infinity Gauntlet become deus ex machina.
STRANGE VS. SPIDEY
Late in the trailer, a cloak-less Stephen Strange squares off with Tom Holland's Spider-Man atop flying trains. The Sorcerer Supreme's actions throughout the footage are questionable, but the "entire world" nature of the spell could explain this specifically suspect moment.
Even though it's his spell, Strange could very well be included among the people that forget Spider-Man's identity. This could cause him to attack this now-unfamiliar wall-crawler late in the trailer, and would further explain why he won't let Spidey get into the magical box he's so protective of.
AN ESCAPE ROUTE
No one wants to address it. It's Hollywood's greatest "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." But if Strange's spell leads the Avengers to forget Spider-Man's identity, it provides an easy MCU exit for Sony's prized possession.
In early 2015, Sony Pictures leased Spider-Man to Marvel Studios for a five-picture deal. This included two solo movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, as well as three team-up appearances, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Despite ending his first Marvel contract on a cliffhanger, Sony briefly took back exclusivity of Peter Parker in summer 2019 before a two-film extension was reached in the subsequent months.
The first film of that two-picture extension is December's Spider-Man: No Way Home, meaning Tom Holland has one team-up MCU appearance left after this Christmas. That could come sometime deeper into Phase 4, or it could be saved for when Secret Wars is adapted to the silver screen. Either way, time is running out on Spidey's MCU tenure.
Having the Avengers forget his identity gives Holland's Parker a smooth transition back to Sony. Sure, he could still technically exist in the MCU, but with none of his super-powered friends knowing who he is, it lays the groundwork for Spider-Man to return to the solo status that made him famous in the first place.
Since they joined forces with Marvel Studios, Spider-Man films have made more worldwide than ever before. While this would lead fans to believe that Sony would want to maintain their relationship with the House of Mouse, the symbiotic trump card cannot be ignored. 2018's Venom proved that Sony could exclusively distribute a Spider-Man IP and rake in crazy box office numbers. Rather than letting Marvel Studios get a piece of the pie, Sony could very well be planting the seeds to take back their golden goose, starting with some Avenger amnesia.
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17, 2021.