After more than a year’s worth of internet-breaking news and teases, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures are in the final stages of preparation for the theatrical release of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Taking into account that this is arguably the most leaked movie in memory, and looking at its promotional tour, the hype continues to build almost by the minute to see what’s coming in the MCU web-slinger’s threequel.
No Way Home is doing something different from any other MCU movie to date by bringing in characters that already exist in other Spider-Man universes and haven’t been seen in a Marvel Studios project. Thanks to this film showing the Multiverse tearing apart for the first time, this Multiversal breach is possible and is set to deliver some of the biggest surprises in any MCU solo movie to date.
As has already been shown through promotional material and trailers, this movie has far more than its two Marvel Studios predecessors making an impact on its story. It even goes beyond the wall-crawler's team-up outings in the franchise with more than a dozen different projects having some kind of impact on what will come to the big screen in the MCU’s 27th theatrical release.
With all that said, here are all the projects that fans should watch before the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, compiled into three tiers based on how important they are relative to No Way Home:
1.) Must-Watches: Movies whose storylines directly impact the events of No Way Home.
2.) Recommended: Movies that tell the full story of Tom Holland's Peter Parker.
3.) Suggested for the Die-Hards: Projects whose storylines indirectly impact events in No Way Home.
Must-Watch MCU Movies
Even considering how many outside forces will play a role in No Way Home's story, there's no better place to start than with Tom Holland's first two MCU solo movies. To have a trilogy means that there are two movies that kick things off, and in this case, that pair of films include 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Homecoming gave Holland his first full solo movie as he returned to Queens after meeting nearly a dozen of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the airport battle from 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Comparatively, only two months later, things slowed down for the young hero as he desperately wanted to get into the big-time superhero world rather than continue staying "close to the ground" stopping petty crime at home. The movie also dove into Peter navigating his personal life as a Midtown Tech sophomore who just wanted to have the time of his young life at the Homecoming dance, all while trying to be an Avenger.
The story eventually led to an epic duel with Michael Keaton's Vulture as Peter learned what it really meant to be a superhero, particularly once Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark took Peter's Stark tech suit away from him. Peter overcame that obstacle in a big way to stop the Vulture from stealing a massive arsenal of Stark tech, which led to Tony offering Peter a spot on the Avengers roster and the Iron Spider armor, both of which Peter turned down.
This film also brought Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan back into a prominent role after first appearing in all three Iron Man movies, along with Marisa Tomei's Aunt May after starting in Civil War. New supporting characters also came in the form of Zendaya's Michelle Jones (later becoming the MCU's MJ) and Jacob Batalon's Ned Leeds, who was the first other than Tony to learn Peter was Spider-Man.
This film ended with Peter getting his Spidey suit back from Tony and accepting his place in the world as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, which came immediately before Aunt May found out about his secret identity and the credits rolled.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Two years after Homecoming came Spider-Man: Far From Home, the final film of Phase 3 and the first after the game-changing Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker returned after being snapped out of existence for five long years, and after going through his entire sophomore year in high school, he embarked on a European trip with his classmates to take a break from the superhero life...or so he thought.
Thanks to May sneaking Peter's suit into his baggage, Europe now had a secret hero to take on the impending threat of the Elementals that first popped up in Venice when the Midtown group first arrived. This adventure continued with Jake Gyllenhaal's Quentin Beck inserting himself into the mix as Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury finally catches up with Spider-Man to bring him into the mission to stop the Elementals.
In the midst of taking on a whirlwind trip across Europe, Peter had to work even harder to keep his identity hidden while Fury's SHIELD team and Mysterio fought off the "Elementals," all before finding out that Beck was pulling a con to get the EDITH glasses from Peter. This gave Beck control of Tony Stark's entire drone system as the villain tried to get back at Tony for firing him during Civil War.
In the end, Peter revealed his superhero status to MJ as they and Ned worked together to stop Mysterio from destroying London. The team succeeded as Peter gained control of his Spidey sense before Mysterio took himself out with the drones, which is where the Infinity Saga ended and kicked off everything coming in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The final scene of Far From Home leads directly into No Way Home as JK Simmons' J. Jonah Jameson used his Daily Bugle platform to release Mysterio's doctored video implicating Peter in the attack on London and his own death. That story finished with Mysterio publicly revealing Peter's identity to the entire world, which is one of the core plot points in Tom Holland's third solo movie.
Leading up to No Way Home's release, the first official clip released to the public showed this scene as Peter and MJ swung away to escape the masses. Now, the stage is set for the web-slinger's biggest adventure to date, even for a young man who's fought both the Avengers and the Mad Titan Thanos.
Must-Watch Non-MCU Movies
As mentioned previously, Spider-Man: No Way Home is doing something never seen in any superhero movie before by incorporating characters from other movies that aren't in the MCU - at least movies not yet in the MCU. This all changes thanks to the inclusion of characters from all five live-action Spider-Man adventures that star Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, making them all key movies to watch before No Way Home.
We start off from the beginning with 2002's Spider-Man, from which Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn is confirmed to make a comeback in NWH. The terrifying Oscorp-CEO-turned-Green-Goblin took his place as Peter's first big bad of the 21st century before meeting his end at the hands of his own glider.
Now, Dafoe's Green Goblin will find himself in the MCU by way of the Multiverse, and rumors are teasing that he will even be the movie's main villain for Tom Holland's Spidey. He's already seen some frightening moments in the movie's promotional tour, particularly being seen without his classic mask, and it's clear that he's out for Peter Parker regardless of what Peter looks like.
Next up on the docket is 2004's Spider-Man 2, which featured a highly-regarded villainous performance by Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius.
The four-armed mechanical megalomaniac became corrupted by the very technology he created for his fusion reactor experiment, leading him to rebuild the device on an even bigger scale. Becoming so engulfed in his own work, he put the entire city of New York in danger before Maguire's Spider-Man took him down and literally knocked some sense back into him.
As the final battle ended, Octavius came to his senses and gained control of the four arms on his back, sacrificing his life and pulling his reactor into the depths of the Hudson River.
Now, Molina returns in a big way in No Way Home after confirming that he will reprise the same version of Doc Ock directly from the end of Spider-Man 2, which was recently teased in the character's first scene released online. With other teases pointing to Octavius potentially having a change of heart, as he did in his first appearance, fans are eagerly awaiting the classic villain's new take in the MCU.
Concluding Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy is 2007's Spider-Man 3, which featured Thomas Hayden Church's Flint Marko as he evolved into the Sandman. Following an escape from prison, Marko accidentally ended up in the middle of a sand-based experiment that melded the sand with his body and allowed him to control the grain at will.
Most of the movie had Sandman looking for a way to help his sick daughter with her medical issues before he teamed up with Topher Grace's Venom to take down the web-slinger. In the end, that fight ended at a standstill between Parker and Flint as the villain admitted that he accidentally killed Peter's uncle, Ben Parker.
While Church hasn't actually been seen in the marketing for No Way Home, the Sandman made his presence felt in a big way during what should be the final battle at the construction site. Similar to Doc Ock, his potential redemption arc will be something to pay close attention to as he finds himself in front of a different Spider-Man.
The Amazing Spider-Man
Moving on to Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man from 2012, that movie delivered Rhys Ifans' take on Dr. Curt Connors, who turned into the villainous Lizard. After developing a serum in an attempt to regrow his lost arm, Connors became a full-blown human/reptile hybrid and let his mind go completely insane.
During the fight against Garfield's Spider-Man, Dr. Connors mass-produced the serum he used on himself to bring about a mass pandemic upon New York City that gave everybody his same affliction. Peter Parker then developed a cure that he showered over the entire city before defeating Connors and putting him behind bars.
While Ifans is expected to be the actor behind the MCU's reprisal of the Lizard, his face hasn't been seen in promo material yet. However, the Lizard appears to have upgraded his look with a new snout, even leading Jameson to ask if it was a dinosaur, which is nothing but bad news for Peter in their first encounter.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
As for the final piece of No Way Home's quintessential quintet, that spot goes to Jamie Foxx's Electro from 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After Garfield's web-slinger saved him in the streets of New York, which led to a false sense of a partnership with the hero, he went on to his daily job at Oscorp before falling into a vat filled with electric eels - an almost ironically appropriate origin story for the electricity-wielding antagonist.
Sent into a rage due to Spider-Man forgetting Max's birthday, the villain went on a rampage through New York City before teaming up with Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn to take down the web-slinger at an Oscorp power plant. Although he met his end, Garfield's Peter Parker lost Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy in the fight.
No Way Home is set to give Foxx's Electro some incredible upgrades, which include, but aren't limited to, a new costume that features a version of Tony Stark's arc reactor to give him even more power. He also will be naturally human-colored rather than having the blue hue he sported previously, making him look even more intimidating while also being a tougher fight.
All five of these movies will make their presence felt in one way or another, which doesn't even take into account the possibility that Maguire and Garfield themselves may join up with Tom Holland for a Spider-Man trio. No matter what comes to fruition in that regard, their solo movies are all adventures that should be revisited before the MCU's epic Spidey threequel releases.
Recommend to Watch
Ahead are three key MCU outings that all feature Tom Holland's Spider-Man in some form, and two of them utilize the services of Doctor Strange. While neither of them are headliners in any of these team-up efforts, they help set up both characters' stories alongside their Avengers teammates and kickstart their own partnership with each other.
Captain America: Civil War
Although Spider-Man: Homecoming was Tom Holland's first solo film in the MCU, his first on-screen action as Peter Parker and Spider-Man came in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. After Tony Stark found him through YouTube videos and learned his secret identity, the billionaire built Peter his first full-blown Spider-Man outfit in preparation for the battle against Captain America in Germany.
This battle introduced Spidey to two teams made up of Earth's Mightiest Heroes as he showed his impressive skills against Avengers veterans and newcomers alike, even being the youngest in battle by a wide margin. From referencing Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to holding his own against Captain Steve Rogers, the young man proved he had what it took to be an Avenger someday in the near future.
Avengers: Infinity War
Then came 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, where Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Stephen Strange found Tony Stark in New York City's Central Park after Bruce Banner busted a Hulk-sized hole in the Sanctum Sanctorum's roof and warned of Thanos' impending arrival. Strange teamed up with Stark, Banner, and Benedict Wong's Wong to protect the Time Stone from Thanos' Black Order, all before getting some back-up in Spider-Man after ditching a school field trip to MOMA.
Even with these heroes' efforts, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian gain possession of the Time Stone by sucking Strange up to their Q-ship as Peter is beamed up too. To save his life, Tony sends up the fan-favorite Iron Spider armor, which then makes an impact on Peter's run as Spider-Man throughout future films.
While on the Q-Ship heading towards Titan, Peter Parker and Stephen Strange get to know one another, even if it's in a slightly contentious fashion, before coming across the Guardians of the Galaxy. Once they get to Titan, they team up in epic fashion with Peter jumping through Strange's portals to lay the beat down on the Mad Thanos, narrating every hit along the way.
Unfortunately, that fight ends with Strange giving the Time Stone to Thanos in order to save Tony Stark's life, all before Thanos heads to Earth and completes the Infinity Gauntlet. Once the villain snaps his fingers, both Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are dusted out of existence, which was just a small part of the devastating impact Thanos had on all life in the universe.
One year later held the debut of the worldwide blockbuster hit Avengers: Endgame, which remains Marvel Studios' crown jewel event to this day. Unfortunately, due to Peter Parker and Stephen Strange being snapped away in Infinity War, both heroes only played roles in the movie's final battle and funeral scene, although a picture of Peter and Tony Stark helped inspire Tony to try to figure out how to save everyone one last time.
Both characters had their moments to shine in the final battle with Doctor Strange using his magic to stop an incoming flood and Spider-Man getting to use his Instant Kill feature and protect the Stark-made Infinity Gauntlet. They stood by each other during Tony Stark's funeral as well, although they didn't interact with one another for a moment during the action.
Regardless of how much time Spidey and Strange saw on screen in this trio of movies from Phase 3, their bonds as co-workers and Avengers grew from one movie to the next, all leading to them tackling the universe and Multiverse together in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Suggested for the Die-Hards
The final six entries in this list aren't necessarily required viewing to understand what's happening in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but it absolutely doesn't hurt to check them out if you have the time.
Kicking off that next category is 2016's Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch's first MCU solo movie where he goes from an arrogant but brilliant neurosurgeon to the Master of the Mystic Arts. Fans see him learn a sense of humility after losing the use of his hands, and through his evolution, he became one of the most powerful heroes that exist in the MCU.
After defeating Dormammu, the ruler of the Dark Dimension, Strange took on the responsibilities of looking over the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City while working toward advancing his sorcery skills. Following this movie's ending, the powerful magician immediately started his path to being a key player in the MCU for years to come.
This movie simply sets the stage for Strange's solo journey through the MCU, although it gains plenty of extra material through his future team-up movies that close out Phase 3.
Moving to the Disney+ side of things with the 2021 Phase 4 series Loki. Although this series doesn't feature Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, or anyone specifically in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the MCU's God of Mischief unleashed one of this movie's most pivotal plot devices - the Multiverse.
Thanks to Loki and Sylvie's interaction with He Who Remains that left the wacky villain dead, the Multiverse starts coming apart at the scenes right in front of the God of Mischief's eyes outside the Citadel at the End of Time. While the ramifications of this event haven't had any impact on the MCU yet, that's all set to change as Peter Parker and Doctor Strange find themselves facing off against powerful enemies from other universes.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Also in line with this Multiversal storyline is a wildly popular animated outing by the name of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Even with no MCU ties whatsoever, it gives fans just a tease of what the Multiverse and the Spider-Verse will look like in the live-action Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Miles Morales finds himself in the middle of a battle for his universe alongside Peter B. Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, and even Peter Porker as they all try to get back to their own worlds and stop the Multiverse from tearing apart. Of course, this plot won't directly affect what happens in the MCU, but it could serve as an idea of what the Multiverse-shattering events of No Way Home could look like.
Taking a short trip outside the canon MCU and Spider-Man universes is the highly-acclaimed Netflix series Daredevil, which brings a version of the Man Without Fear that was at one point believed to exist within the MCU. While that's no longer the case definitively, No Way Home may be looking to actually make this show a part of the MCU in one form or another.
Rumors have teased that Netflix star Charlie Cox will reprise his role as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home, potentially serving as Peter Parker's lawyer after his identity is revealed. This will clearly remain a mystery until No Way Home fully releases, although, interestingly, Marvel Studios CCO Kevin Feige confirmed that Cox would return to the role should Marvel decide to bring Daredevil into the fray.
This comes on top of other rumors pointing to Vincent D'Onofrio reprising his role as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Hawkeye, whose final two episodes sandwich the Spider-Man threequel. It seems that if Marvel is truly looking to bring the world of Daredevil into the MCU, it will come with a bang through these two projects.
Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Finally, two of Sony's other Spider-Man-inspired projects that will likely make an impact on No Way Home are Tom Hardy's Venom from 2018 and Venom: Let There Be Carnage from 2021. While Venom is on this list simply for setting up Eddie Brock and his Symbiote partner in their adventures together, Let There Be Carnage is the one that comes as a game-changer.
The mid-credits scene of the Venom sequel officially threw the anti-hero into the MCU as he sat in a hotel room watching Jameson's Daily Bugle report revealing Peter Parker as Spider-Man. Although it's unclear how he will fit into the plot of this already jam-packed sequel, the fact that he's in a universe with Spider-Man can only mean they'll meet up at some point in the future.
What to Watch Before Spider-Man: No Way Home?
With a grand total of 16 movies and TV series that play some role in bringing this threequel to life, Spider-Man: No Way Home will be a culmination event unlike almost anything seen in MCU history. Although only seven of them are truly essential to be prepared for what's coming, each of these entries has something for fans of any kind going to see this movie.
The MCU's 27th theatrical outing and 32nd project overall is going to break the MCU wide open, which should happen in a big way in the film's 148-minute runtime. Whether each of these shows and projects is definitively seen in No Way Home's plot is unknown, but with so much material, fans should have everything they need and more to be prepared for what will close out Marvel Studios' 2021 slate.
Spider-Man: No Way Home will debut in theaters on December 17, 2021.