Spider-Man: No Way Home's debut footage accomplished two key factors: answer a couple of questions and raise dozens more.
The popular fan theory that Zendaya's MJ would forget her relationship with Tom Holland's Peter Parker due to Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange spell was validated as well as long-standing rumors that Doc Ock and Green Goblin would show face in the threequel.
That said, those two answers were only among a few. The three minutes of No Way Home footage was dominated by out-of-context footage that left fans equally confused and suspicious.
Where is Peter going when he's confronted by Alfred Molina's Doc Ock? Is that Sandman protecting Spider-Man from Electro's lightning? What in the world is going on with Doctor Strange?
That last question has lived rent-free in fandoms' minds. From disobeying Wong's wishes to seemingly fighting Spidey atop a train, the Sorcerer Supreme acts extremely out of character throughout this trailer. The good doctor also rocks his Eye of Agamotto in this footage despite it being destroyed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
The Eye of Agamotto isn't the only mystical object that shows up in Spider-Man: No Way Home's teaser trailer. In the final minute of footage, Strange lectures Peter about "trying to live two different lives." This dialogue plays over a scene where Strange sends Spidey into his astral form as the web-slinger reaches into a box.
The box bears resemblance to Strange's Eye of Agamotto in the sense that they have similar colors, design structures, and patterns. Whatever this object is, Strange clearly doesn't want Spidey messing with it. While this trailer leaves fans asking many questions, let's focus on one: what's in the box?
THE HISTORY OF PANDORA'S BOX
Beyond Hollywood remakes of age-old tales of Hercules, Odysseus, and more, thematic elements from Greek mythology find their way into all mediums of entertainment. Galactus has cannibalistic tendencies similar to Kronos. Wonder Woman is literally the daughter of Zeus. Even in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the evil HYDRA organization gets its name and motto from an infamous Greek mythological monster.
One of the Greek mythology's most iconic stories revolves around Pandora's Box. The story goes that the first human woman, Pandora, was left a jar containing all the world's evils. Tempted by sweet voices coming from inside it, Pandora opened the box. This sent sickness, death, and hundreds of other cryptic curses into the world. With the jar's evils released into the wild, one thing was left inside: hope.
Pandora's actions moralized humans and plagued them with cruel characteristics like greed, envy, and rage. Despite all those evils, the gift of hope allowed humanity to believe everything would work out in the end.
MERGING THE MULTIVERSE
We'll circle back to Pandora's Box soon.
Strange's spell comes with a catch: everyone forgets Spider-Man's secret identity, including those closest to him. Many fans have asked why this is such a big deal considering Peter could simply re-tell Aunt May, MJ, and Ned his arachnid alias after the spell goes into effect.
Trailers are often cut up to conceal information, and No Way Home's is no different. Rather than wiping everyone's memory, Strange could be merging multiverses. In other words, he could be replacing those in the MCU with Variants from another world where Peter's identity is still a secret.
This would explain why Peter is so hesitant to cast the spell. It's not about MJ or Ned not knowing he's Spider-Man but rather them not knowing he's Peter Parker. The relationships he's built up over the past five years would be reset. Even if an MJ Variant recognizes him, Peter would not have an established connection with that iteration of his girlfriend.
As for where the real MJ, Ned, and Aunt May would be...
A MULTIVERSAL PRISON
If Strange's spell involves a blockbuster multiversal trade, he needs to dump his Earth's people somewhere. Just as Pandora's Box housed hope, there's reason to believe that the mystical object seen late in the trailer holds MJ, Ned, and Aunt May.
This would explain why Spider-Man is so keen to reach into the box. Similar to how the jar of evils whispered temptations to Pandora, Peter could be hearing the desperate cries of his friends inside this mystical box.
Strange is no stranger to brutal ultimatums. After all, this is the same man who looked Tony Stark dead in the eye and told him there was only one outcome where the Avengers defeat Thanos, knowing well that would result in Iron Man's death.
Releasing the MJ, Ned, and Aunt May that Peter knows and loves has to come with a deadly consequence hitherto undreamt of.
UNLEASHING THE SINISTER SIX
If Peter's friends represent hope in this Pandora's Box analogy, the Sinister Six are the endless evils.
Spider-Man: No Way Home's trailer blatantly reveals the arrival of Alfred Molina's Doc Ock, overtly hints at Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, and subtly teases many more antagonists from past Spider-Man franchises. Peter's desire to release his friends could come at the cost of releasing the Sinister Six.
Strange is seen fighting Spidey atop a collection of trains seconds before the mystical box is shown in the trailer. Both are wearing the same costumes during the train and the box scenes, making it likely they come in the same sequence. Spidey is set to rock at least five different suits in this film, suggesting that his red-and-black Spider-Man: Far From Home attire will be donned in either consecutive scenes or one long section of the film.
With those scenes matching up, it's possible that Strange's motivations to go after Spidey are due to his meddlings with this box. If the box is indeed a multiversal prison, it housing Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, Lizard, and many more becomes all the more likely.
As for where this multiversal prison is located?
It's all connected.
The events of WandaVision, Loki, and Spider-Man: No Way Home will all culminate in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This means characters, vocabulary, and locations introduced in previous multiversal installments popping up in future ones are fair game.
WandaVision hinted at multiversal concepts, but Loki offered full-fledged explanations on the otherworldly. Tom Hiddleston's solo series familiarized fans with the Time Variance Authority, Variants, and where timeline criminals are sent.
Loki's fifth episode explored The Void, an MCU Easter egg hunter's paradise. In all seriousness, The Void is a wasteland home to pruned Variants and reset-charged locations. The trickster's show only showed Variants of Loki himself, but it's clear that the TVA's dumping grounds houses much more than Gods of Mischief.
While unconfirmed, it feels likely that Strange would be at least aware of the TVA. The mystical box could be the sorcerers' gateway to The Void, a way for the MCU's magicians to imprison those threatening the fabric of reality. As Thanos would say, it's efficient.
THE MCU's CONSTANT CONNECTIVITY
Just as history repeats itself, modern narratives borrow thematic elements from the storytelling of old. Doctor Strange's spell won't come without consequence, and the price Peter Parker has to pay to conceal his identity will put his Queens apartment rent to shame.
Regardless of how many parallels No Way Home has to Pandora's Box, the film's magical container is all but guaranteed to have a similarly large purpose.
The Eye of Agamotto housed an Infinity Stone. The Cloak of Levitation grants the wearer flight. It's only appropriate that this latest mystical object is of the utmost importance.
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17, 2021.