Soon, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures will add arguably the biggest Spider-Man film ever into the MCU as Spider-Man: No Way Home finally arrives in theaters. With teases for this movie's plot and cast having started coming to fruition over a year ago and two trailers breaking the internet, it's clear that this will be a movie unlike any ever seen in this, or any, comic book movie universe.
The road to get to this point has been a long and winding one, which mirrors the path that the MCU as a whole has taken to finally get to Phase 4's introduction in 2021.
Following the temporary break-up between Marvel and Sony, the two studios came to an agreement over Spider-Man's place in the MCU and almost immediately scheduled the then-untitled threequel for the web-slinger for debut in July 2021. Then came the news that Spidey would have Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange along for the ride as he came into his second Phase 4 movie.
However, the well-known delays to the MCU's entire release schedule changed everything, pushing Spider-Man: No Way Home's release to before that of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This adjustment forced Marvel and Sony into a difficult position, which was detailed in the latest report surrounding the ever-changing franchise.
Spider-Man 3 Delays Forced Big Changes
The recently released issue of GQ revealed that Marvel was forced to make major changes to Spider-Man: No Way Home due to the COVID-19-induced release delays.
Specifically, these came when the Spidey threequel's release was moved to after the debut of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Spider-Man star Tom Holland looked back on Spider-Man: No Way Home's production with this adjustment in mind and recalled how often the story for No Way Home changed during shooting. Even when asking director Jon Watts about how the movie ended as they shot it, there was always a sense of figuring it out on the fly with the script being rewritten almost daily:
“You could ask the director, ‘What happens in act three?’ And his response would be, ‘I’m still trying to figure it out.'"
Doctor Strange 2 Forcing MCU Madness Off-Screen
It feels like an eternity has passed since Marvel Studios first announced its original Phase 4 schedule, and it's seen some drastic changes to the order of its film's debuts since that time.
That first schedule had Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releasing in May 2021, and it was set to have the Spider-Man threequel come only two months after. With Sony and Marvel having released solo Spider-Man MCU movies every two years in order for Sony to keep the rights to the character, Marvel had to move Doctor Strange 2 into a position following No Way Home.
It seems most likely that Marvel was planning to fully introduce the Multiverse in Doctor Strange's second solo film, and the team had to work quickly to change that with the schedule adjustments. Whether Strange's involvement in No Way Home was always planned out in this manner is a mystery, but it's clear now that he's at the center of everything happening in the Multiversal threequel.
COVID-19 certainly took its toll on Marvel in more ways than one, but it appears that the teams behind both movies have put in the hard work to make sure the universe continues chugging along at full speed.
While fans may find out what the original pre-pandemic plan was for these two movies and their place in the MCU, it won't come to light until long after both of them have been released in theaters. For now, the excitement still continues to build for unquestionably the biggest Spider-Man movie of all time and a game-changer in the MCU as a whole.
Spider-Man: No Way Home will debut in theaters on December 17, 2021. Tickets for the threequel will go on sale on November 29, 2021.