Before Phase 4 officially began, Marvel fans knew the multiverse was set to play a key role in the upcoming slate of projects. The announcement of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness confirmed just as much, and its set-up was supposedly going to happen during WandaVision.
While WandaVision’s foundation for the multiverse was far more subtle than originally expected, it was Loki who truly blew the gates wide open with a multiversal calamity during its finale.
Not only did the finale, and episodes before it, explain the entire concept, but it also introduced He Who Remains, a Variant of Kang the Conqueror, to the world.
Kang is set to be the next big bad in the MCU. While in the comics his reign is fairly condensed to the main timeline, the concepts of both that and alternate universes seem to be almost one in the same when it comes to Marvel Studios’ adaption; it’s something the storytelling should definitely get straight at some point soon.
The next film that is set to showcase what the multiverse is, and can offer to the story, is Spider-Man: No Way Home. Coming right out of Loki, the film is rumored to explore the newly introduced concepts in unique ways, particularly aimed at Peter Parker himself.
With the recently released trailer (the one everyone has been talking about for months now), it’s now confirmed the film will harness the storytelling potential of the multiverse in a grand fashion. But what exactly does that entail?
Let’s start with Peter’s posed favor: in his own words, he wants Doctor Strange to make it as if the entire Mysterio reveal never happened in the first place––in his mind, likely placing the solution with time travel.
Despite warnings from Wong, Strange has a spell in mind, and is clearly willing to help his fellow universe saver; but time manipulation doesn’t seem to be involved. Instead, Doctor Strange says the words: “our world is about to forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.”
Alarm bells obviously ring in Peter’s head, as this means Ned and MJ will be in the criteria to have their memories wiped. One can’t blame Peter for trying to get some clarification on that point but, in doing so, his interruption seemed to cause some unexpected results.
They aren’t great, because a worried and upfront Strange comments to Peter in VO that the two of them “tampered with the stability of space-time.” It would seem the spell the Doctor was trying to harness was one that manipulated the timeline, and possibly other branch timelines as well––which isn’t surprising given the fact the world’s population would need to forget they ever knew Spider-Man’s identity.
The trailer doesn’t reveal whether or not the spell is successful, but it does confirm that poop hits the fan, and things start to get personal for Peter.
As admitted by Strange himself, “the multiverse is a concept of which we know frighteningly little.” It’s pretty worrisome when you screw things up so badly that even The Sorcerer Supreme says he has no idea what may truly be happening.
There are several sequences seen in the trailer with Spider-Man getting to experience similar bits of trippy dimensional hopping stuff like the current Sorcerer Supreme did in Doctor Strange, but it’s when certain particular clues start to show up that reveals how all of this ties back to Peter Parker.
For one, there’s the orange pumpkin bomb identical to the one used by Willem Defoe and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. Then, there’s the lightning coming from off-screen, and while it isn’t blue like fans saw in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the color matches the rumors of Jamie Foxx’s new look in his MCU debut.
What’s almost more notable than the lightning is that there is what seems to be a sandstorm happening around it. There’s a very good chance that this is Sandman, in this case, likely being the very same one from Spider-Man 3 to keep with the trend of known returning villains.
The obvious reveal is Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, ominously greeting Tom Holland’s Peter for the first time. It would seem that messing with the multiverse is not something that the ol’ webhead should have done.
BUT WHY SO SPIDER-MAN?
With Spidey and Strange having disturbed the multiverse, with how large and endless it all is, why do the consequences seem so Peter Parker specific? Well, that likely has to do with the request that Doctor Strange was trying to fulfill.
His attempt to erase Mysterio’s damage was intertwined with the multiverse as a whole. So once interrupted, the consequences seemingly had an effect on others who know Spider-Man’s identity––even if they weren’t from Tom Holland’s timeline.
But since the original disturbance was with Holland, it likely created a link to these other villains, all of whom know who he is. Whatever malfunctioned in the spell seems to have forcefully relocated them to the prime MCU timeline; or at least that’s what it looks like.
It is a truly unique and really fun way to not only progress the story after Spider-Man: Far From Home, but also incorporate the multiverse and previous generations of the Spider-Man franchise in an organic way. Who would have thought that Loki would be the springboard for what is likely to be one of the biggest Spider-Man films of all time?
While the trailer didn’t contain a look at the rumored debuts of Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield, their arrival seems all but confirmed at this point.
There’s very little chance that the world won’t get to see Tom Holland fight beside two of his own Variants come December 17 later this year.