Spider-Man: No Way Home is the latest box office hit for Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures. The movie has surpassed the $1 billion mark at the global box office and continues to climb despite being released during a global pandemic. No Way Home's success can be largely attributed to the concept of the Multiverse, which brought back past Spider-Man villains and even the former web-slingers themselves for the first time in years.
No Way Home served as the third solo film for Tom Holland's Peter Parker in the MCU, rounding out the teenage character's high school years and establishing his origin story for the future. The hype surrounding the film prior to its release was second-to-none, due to the rumors and speculation that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield would be returning after a 14 and seven-year hiatus, respectively.
The film still found a way to exceed all expectations, as many fans are claiming it to be among the best movies in the entire MCU.
One aspect of the film that seemed to confuse some of the viewers, however, was the ending. Once the Multiverse was opened and different characters from other universes began trying to make their way into the world the MCU is set in, Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange cast a spell that made everyone forget that Spider-Man was Peter Parker.
Following the spell, Peter walked into a coffee shop and saw his girlfriend, Zendaya's MJ, and his best friend, Jacob Batalon's Ned, with neither of them having any memory of him. This concept led to many fans asking questions about what this means for Peter's future, and luckily, the creators have given some answers.
Spider-Man: No Way Home's Ending Memory Spell Explained
In an interview with Variety, Spider-Man: No Way Home screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna explained what the film's ending truly means for Tom Holland's Peter Parker as he goes forward, also answering some questions about certain aspects that viewers were confused about.
The writers were asked about how physical objects would be affected by the spell cast at the end of the movie to make everyone forget that Peter was Spider-Man, such as public records and photos. Sommers stated that they asked those questions to themselves while in the process of writing the film, and wondered if they should do a "Back to the Future kind of thing" or take another route:
“This is the first time that we've ever discussed this. We were like, do we do a ‘Back to the Future' kind of thing where you see him fading out of photos? Does he still have a driver's license or a passport? It just led to more questions.”
Sommers continued by saying they came to the decision to write the ending "in the most satisfying way," with plans to circle back around and answer any questions "in another movie" in the future:
“We decided, let's try to do it in the most satisfying way and just focus on the emotion of it. And then if people have questions about some of those details that didn't get answered here, we'll answer them hopefully in another movie somewhere down the line.”
McKenna described the ending of the film as a "magical redaction," and said that they weren't wanting viewers to have to do "magical math" after seeing the movie:
"Obviously, some sort of magical redaction has occurred. At the end of all this, we didn't want a lot of people trying to do magical math in their head.”
The writers then claimed that No Way Home producer Amy Pascal compared the film to another film called "Heaven Can Wait," with people in that world "forgetting the person" while still being "affected by the events that happened:"
"People had these experiences, but they start forgetting the person they knew, but they were still affected by the events that happened."
Forgetting Peter Parker
When looked at from the outside, there are plenty of questions that can be raised about how Doctor Strange's spell actually worked.
Many viewers have asked if only the people in the MCU's universe were affected, or if the entire Multiverse had their memories of Peter Parker erased as well. Then, of course, the questions that Sommers and McKenna discussed are also valid points made about the concept of the spell.
Other films such as Back to the Future have dealt with the same concept, as was mentioned by the screenwriters, where the forgotten character disappeared from photos. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione casts a spell on her parents so that they will forget who she is, and in a similar way to Back to the Future, the camera pans across photos where Marty McFly slowly vanishes from them.
When looking at No Way Home, it would make sense for Peter to also be taken out of photos. For example, if Zendaya's MJ had a picture on her phone of her and Peter while he was wearing the Spider-Man suit, but with no mask on, the spell wouldn't have been valid, and she would still know who Spider-Man is.
There are plenty of other questions, but as the writers said, hopefully, they can be answered in a future film. In whatever way the creative team decides to address the matter, it is safe to assume they will do it in the most effective way.