Spider-Man: No Way Home Theory Explains Confusing Peter Parker Ending

By Tom Drew Updated:
Spider-Man No Way Home ending spell

With Spider-Man: No Way Home officially out in the wild, fans worldwide finally have the chance to see Peter Parker's MCU journey come to a head on the big screen. Those that have seen the Multiversal adventure are throwing every thought and theory out there in response to the many, many massive bombshells No Way Home drops.

Many fans have already seen the Tom Holland-led threequel, shown by the monumental opening weekend numbers No Way Home achieved at the box office. Now viewers are left to ponder the film's potential connections to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the obligatory post-credits stinger, and the surprising ramifications of the ending.

The film's final moments may have severely shaken Spider-Man's status quo in the MCU, but has also opened up many questions about everything that fans have known about the web-slinger up to this point.

Peter Parker's Questionable Spider-Man: No Way Home Ending

Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Doctor Strange spell

At the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter is forced to make a choice: let an army of Spider-Man rogues invade his universe or make the ultimate sacrifice. The webhead, of course, chooses to give it all up for the greater good, realizing that he can stop the Multiversal invaders by making everyone forget who he is.

Doctor Strange casts a spell to make everyone forget Peter Parker completely, thwarting the villainous invasion but removing any traces of Parker's history from the MCU.

But how does Strange's spell actually work? How much does it affect? What are its limits?

The big question is...

How is Peter Parker Remembered?

Spider-Man spell identity

If Peter Parker has been erased from the minds of the masses, does this mean that Spider-Man has been forgotten as well? Luckily No Way Home has the answer to that, thanks to a news report by J. Jonah Jameson where he briefly mentions the wallcrawler and his unknown identity. This confirms that Spider-Man is still known to the world, even if Peter Parker isn't.

But if the world remembers Spider-Man and not Peter Parker, how are events involving both Peter Parker and Spider-Man being remembered? There are plenty of moments from the MCU's history that are potentially affected. To figure that out, let's begin with what hasn't been tampered with.

Iron Man's relationship with Peter will luckily go unchanged, due to the founding Avenger now being six feet under. Everyone involved in Captain America: Civil War will remember the airport showdown going the same way too, as Peter never revealed his identity to anyone on the battlefield aside from Tony Stark.

And...that's about it. Every other significant event involving Peter Parker has a little wrinkle that makes things a little messy.

What Does Doctor Strange's Spell Affect?

Spider-Man spell

Ned Leeds' life, for example, is potentially completely destroyed. Peter was his best friend, so how will he remember high school? Will there be a void in Ned's memory where Peter originally was? Does Ned remember an entirely different high school experience? How does this affect how he recalls becoming friends with MJ? Sure, they're both pals, but they seem to be more like friends by proxy -- think how George and Elaine are both friends because of Jerry Seinfeld.

It's also shown that physical objects aren't affected - only people's minds experience the change.

At the end of the film, MJ is still wearing her Black Dahlia necklace that she received in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but does she know where it came from? There are a couple of possibilities here. Perhaps she simply doesn't recall or vaguely knows that she got the jewelry on her trip to Europe. Alternatively, the memory could be replaced with another altogether, in order to take the place of Peter's romantic gesture.

Other items are harder to explain though, like Flash Thompson's book "Flashpoint" which details how he is best buddies with Spider-Man and subsequently Peter Parker. Will Flash remember writing about his fake friendship with Peter, or will this be whisked away too?

Is it possible that Flash could reread his scrawlings and rediscover Spider-Man's secret identity if the book has been left untampered? Or did Strange make sure to rewrite documents too? It seems like the sorcerer did indeed leave them alone, as Peter still seems to have pictures of his pals when moving into his new apartment.

The spell may even affect how characters recall ending up in certain locations.

Spider-Man No Way Home ending

Will Michael Keaton's Vulture remember why he was imprisoned? Perhaps instead of knowing that Peter put him in prison, he will only recall that Spider-Man was responsible. Or, if Adrian Toomes has hopped over to Morbius' universe for a bit, there may be a chance that the Vulture has dodged the effects of Strange's spell.

Similarly, how would MJ and Ned remember the events of No Way Home? Do they recall how they ended up on the Statue of Liberty and sustained their injuries? 

Peter even points out a band-aid on MJ's head at the end of the film, but Zendaya's character simply states that "It doesn't hurt anymore." MJ doesn't elaborate on how she got hurt in the first place, whether she remembers being a part of a Spider-Man-filled action scene or if the event has been blocked from her memory. If MJ did remember being a part of the finale, she might become confused as to why she was involved in the first place, as she wouldn't have any relation to the web-slinger in her eyes.

How will the Avengers remember Peter? Earth's Mightiest Heroes are all typically on a first-name basis, so they may find it odd when they look back on the wallcrawler and think "that guy really didn't wanna take off his mask, huh?" Spider-Man helped out a decent amount during Avengers: Infinity War, revealing his identity to the heroes he found himself in the company of, including several members of the Guardians of the Galaxy

This begs the question of whether Strange's spell was contained to the vicinity of Earth or if it extends through the Sacred Timeline's universe too.

As the vista between the world and the Multiversal portal would likely be covered by an Earth-based spell, Doctor Strange may not have erased Peter's identity throughout the vast reaches of space. This might mean that Star-Lord, Mantis, and Drax may still have knowledge of Peter's identity and how he helped during Infinity War. Then again, the group isn't comprised of the brightest tools in the shed, and probably wouldn't be able to recall Peter Parker's name if they tried. A spacefaring hero like Captain Marvel, on the other hand, directly interacted with Peter in Endgame, so may remember his identity if Strange didn't extend the spell's radius.

And as much as the spell affects the past, it also affects a certain character's future: will Doctor Strange remember that he tampered with the Multiverse? His acknowledgment that they "tampered with the stability of spacetime" in the Multiverse of Madness trailer seem to suggest that he does, but he presumably won't know the reason for doing so...or will he? Strange follows this up by saying that it "was the only way," alluding to the fact that his Multiversal actions were to help Peter Parker. But how would Strange know that if even he forgot who Peter was?

There is the possibility that this could be the evil Doctor Strange Supreme talking, and he also messed with the Multiverse -- but that's an entirely different rabbit hole for another time.

So...How Does Strange's Spell Work?

Doctor Strange spell MCU

There are obviously a lot of events that will potentially succumb to the Mandela Effect, so there likely won't be a solid explanation that solves all of these little issues. 

But knowing what we know, here's what is likely to be the general overview of the spell's impact. As Spider-Man is still known to the world, any event where Peter's face was exposed while in his Spider-Suit will likely be replaced with a memory of only the web-slinger being in attendance.

For example, in Avengers: Infinity War, Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy would remember only remember that Spider-Man fought alongside them and nothing about Peter showing his face -- even when he didn't feel so good.

As for memories where only Peter Parker was involved, it is most probable that these will be replaced with another in order to prevent any confusion in the person.

The spell also seems to only affect people's minds and not any objects like photos or documents. This could mean that records that point to Spider-Man's secret identity may still be out there, possibly indicating that Mysterio's video to the Daily Bugle or Flash Thompson's soon-to-be bestseller could be found and used against Peter again.

The rules on Doctor Strange's mind wipe have been purposefully kept loose, allowing the filmmakers for Spidey's next adventure to play around with the best fit for what's to come. Spider-Man may have a bit of freedom with no one remembering the man underneath, but the spell will undoubtedly come back to bite him sooner rather than later.

Fans can attempt to piece together how Doctor Strange's spell actually works by rewatching Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is in theaters now.

- In This Article: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release Date
December 17, 2021
- About The Author: Tom Drew
Tom Drew is the Executive Editor at The Direct. Tom writes for The Direct's Marvel, Star Wars, and DC branches while specializing in all things movies, from blockbuster to indie darlings.