Merchandise has long been an integral element of the run-up to Hollywood blockbusters as they generate insane amounts of additional revenue. But creating those products is no easy task when it comes to the likes of Marvel and DC which shrouds their latest releases in such intense secrecy.
Prior to the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, LEGO revealed the "Spider-Man at the Sanctum Workshop" set, supposedly based on the upcoming movie. The set featured Spider-Man, MJ, Doctor Strange, and Wong, doing battle with a big screen monster. something which obviously wasn't included in the movie itself.
The basement-inspired set was the only one of the batch to even slightly adapt No Way Home. Another set from the line took inspiration from Spider-Man's fight with Michael Keaton's Vulture from Homecoming but instead donning his inside-out black and gold suit that recently debuted in No Way Home.
One more entry in No Way Home's LEGO releases drew from Far From Home as it depicted Spider-Man and Nick Fury fighting Mysterio and his drones. Each of these sets drummed up speculation of the villains returning for No Way Home, despite clearly being labeled as inspired by past releases.
Now, a LEGO designer has opened up about why the toy manufacturer took such minimal inspiration from No Way Home for its merchandise line.
LEGO Designer Explains Spider-Man: No Way Home Secrecy
Speaking to MiniSuperHeroesToday, LEGO Designer Mark Stafford explained why the toy manufacturer deceived fans with its Spider-Man: No Way Home sets.
Stafford revealed the level of secrecy was "really similar to Endgame" as LEGO was given "almost nothing" to work with as they were eager to prevent leaks:
"It was really similar to Endgame where they gave us almost nothing because this has so many secrets in it they don't even want a whisper of it to leak out. Until the day I went to the movie, opening day, of course, I didn't know there was going to be more than one Spider-Man. I knew there had been set leaks that showed that it looks like there is, but the actors were still denying it and I was believing the actors, foolish. They're actors, they were acting."
The designer also noted they weren't allowed to use "any of Spider-Man's regular roster of villains" and were forced to invent one, which led to the creation of this "vague Lovecraftian-like monster" for Doctor Strange's basement:
"So yeah, we didn't know that there was more than one. We also knew that we weren't allowed to do any of Spider-Man's regular roster of villains. Everyone we suggested, we were told no. So, if he needs an antagonist, something to fight against, it's Doctor Strange's basement, so make something up, something that's sort of part insect and part tentacles. And I'm a bit of a Cthulu fan so, maybe a bit of bread and butter for me, I just made a vague Lovecraftian-like monster and put it there."
The LEGO veteran went on to explain how they were sent a "concept of the teens laying around in the basement" with only a slight view of the crypt in the background - which eventually hold Spider-Man's Multiversal villains:
"But the basement behind it was based on... they sent us the concept of the teens laying around in the basement with the video games and everything and it was beautiful concept art with the gateway and the back and you can vaguely see through the gateway-like arches with statues and maybe a font, so I put those in and they were okay with that, but at that point, it was just a gateway because that's all we had, and a sofa."
Upon asking for further information, Stafford was sent "60 photos from the set," which was being built at the time, featuring close-ups of lots of details, many of which were never showcased in No Way Home's final cut:
"I asked, is there any more information? Is there any more concept art? And they were building the set at the time and they actually sent me 60 photos from the set, they walked around and took pictures of the set, but nothing through the door, it was all Doctor Strange's basement. So I got pictures of barrels with magic books on top and chained-up refrigerators saying do not open and rows of bicycles starting with a penny farthing and going through the eras all the way up to a modern mountain bike which is why there's a mountain bike on the wall because I thought we might at least glimpse the bikes at the back, didn't see them in the movie at all. But I know they're there, I've got all these set photos to look at."
Stafford also shared his belief that the "set designers are doing a great job on Marvel" as the basement was "beautiful" and filled with small details:
"And that set is beautiful by the way, I wish they'd shown more of the basement side, just for the Easter eggs that they've put in that I can see in the photographs that you don't see in... I wonder how many Easter eggs we've missed from the movies because there's no... Set designers are doing a great job on Marvel, I gotta say."
After the interviewer jokingly asked to see the photos they were sent of the set, Stafford revealed they are "confidential" and hidden in "LEGO secure stuff:"
"I don't think I can do that. I think they're confidential. I wish I could stick them on a hard drive myself, but no they're in the LEGO secure stuff. Like I say, it was so nice to get those, when you're given that amount of trust, it's great, it really is. You appreciate what you're working on, and who you're working with."
The designer ended off by summarizing the limited LEGO coverage came from the fact, as expected, that they got "so little information" to preserve secrets:
"Because we got little information, that was all there was. They had a secret and they wanted to keep it, and I'm kind of glad they did because I loved that movie."
Is There More Spider-Man: No Way Home LEGO Coming?
LEGO was placed in an impossible position with Spider-Man: No Way Home, just as it previously was with Avengers: Endgame. The sets released to coincide with the cultimination of the Infinity Saga either avoided the events of the flick altogether, or only vaguely adapted them to keep things spoiler-free.
But in the years since Endgame hit theaters, LEGO has begun an Infinity Saga range to adapt the events of past flicks, including more closely revisiting the spoilery Avengers blockbusters. Perhaps something similar may soon be on the cards for the Multiverse Saga that touches more closely on No Way Home.
From the three Spider-Man fighting on the Statue of Liberty to Doc Ock's bridge attack, No Way Home leaves LEGO countless opportunities that may be worth revisiting. After all, many LEGO collectors would be elated to add new figures based on the three Spider-Men and their classic villains to their collection.
According to one LEGO insider - via Brick Fanatics - the legendary toy manufacturer may be aiming to release more No Way Home sets and even some based on Tobey Maguire's original trilogy in 2022. Granted, that's all just rumors for now, but the thought certainly is exciting.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is available now for at-home purchase.