Spider-Man: No Way Home Theory Explains Why Maguire & Garfield Villains Aren't Who We Think

By Matt Roembke Posted:
Tobey Maguire Andrew Garfield Spider-Man No Way Home villains

The biggest movie for the biggest hero in the Marvel universe is right around the corner. And MCU Peter Parker himself, Tom Holland, has promised that Spider-Man: No Way Home will bring three generations of Spider-Man fans together. It began with rumors, and then with leaks, and now the trailers have confirmed that No Way Home will feature characters from three different Spider-Man franchises.

From the trailblazing Tobey Maguire-led movies of the early 2000s, through the rebooted Andrew Garfield films, there are five confirmed villains from five different pre-MCU Spider-Man movies. The question on everyone's mind since the inception of this multiversal movie is, where are these villains coming from? 

Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, and Sandman are entering the MCU from the Sam Raimi trilogy. While Lizard and Electro make their way over from the TASM movies, directed by Marc Webb. And the-all-but-confirmed rumor is that their respective web slingers will be joining them in this "Spider-Man: Endgame". 

Are these characters from the movies that fans know and love? Or are these Variants from different universes played by the same actors? Here is all the promotional evidence that gives clues as to the origin of these sinister Spidey foils. 

The Definition of Variant

Loki variants

The Multiverse is a comic book concept that has been around for decades. The MCU first teased the idea in 2016's Doctor Strange to explain the source of the Mystic Arts powers. It was reintroduced in Spider-Man: Far From Home as the fake motive for the villainous illusionist Mysterio. 

Then, Loki changed everything, introducing the Multiverse from the perspective of the Time Variance Authority. The Disney+ series introduced a variety of concepts that have and will continue to shape the multiverse in the MCU. 

The least of which is the concept of Variants. A Variant is a living being that has branched off from its given timeline and story. Fans saw a variety of Lokis all ranging in appearance, background, race, gender, and every other factor. There was also Variant Lokis, played by Tom Hiddleston. 

This is the door being opened for alternative versions of characters audiences are familiar with being played by the same actors as the touchstone. So are all of these No Way Home villains really from the Raimi and TASM universes? Or are they from unknown and unseen realities fans have yet to meet? 

Doctor Octopus

Doc-Ock Spider-Man No Way Home

Alfred Molina as Dr. Otto Octavius is front and center of this sinister group of characters as the main focus of this movie's promotional run. Molina stated in an interview over a year ago that he would be reprising his villainous role, and his character would in fact be continuing where he left off in Spider-Man 2. These statements have not been confirmed by any of the Marvel brass since, but the trailers for No Way Home seem to be backing that up. 

Doc Ock played by Alfred Molina was the first villain to show his face in this movie's marketing and has given the credence to the theory that these characters are from the same universes as the movie's fans first saw them.

Molina shows up on the infamous bridge fight immediately going after Spider-Man, which hinted that maybe he knew THAT Peter Parker from the jump. However, in the second trailer, Doc Ock shows major confusion when the mask is removed and Tom Holland is underneath, and not Tobey Maguire. 

This is the most viable evidence that Doc Ock is from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man universe of the early 2000s. This does not guarantee that theory though, as it could be ANOTHER different Peter Parker he is referring to. But when Doctor Strange asks Doctor Octopus if he knows Peter Parker, he says "Yes." And when he asks if Tom Holland is that Peter Parker, he says "No". So that is the first official confirmation of multiple Spider-Men in this movie, even if it is just through a third-party reference. 

Green Goblin

Green Goblin Spider-Man No Way Home

The Green Goblin played by Willem Defoe is the first live-action Spider-Man villain seen on the big screen. His weapon of choice, the Pumpkin Bomb, was teased in the first trailer for No Way Home along with his signature laugh. But in the second trailer fans got what they have been waiting for since 2002, the return of Green Goblin in full form. 

Goblin was seen wearing his signature costume and mask from the Raimi universe, providing evidence he is from the same universe as Doc Ock in the early 2000s. But in a second shot of the same trailer, Goblin is seen in a more modernized version of that costume. The black hood and goggles are a point for the theory that these might be Variants of these villains fans have never met before. Which is where things get interesting. 

Goblin is shown twice in these small teases with two different looks. The favorite bet here is that he simply has a wardrobe change to get a more MCU-appropriate suit for a battle within that universe. But the dark horse theory is that fans will be getting a double dose of Goblin in No Way Home. There is a chance that both things could be true, and that Defoe could be playing Norman Osborn from the Raimi universe AND another Variant that enters the mix. 

Loki showed that Variants of the same character come in all different shapes and sizes. And there has been nothing to prove that there will be just one of any of these villains in this movie. 


Sandman Spider-Man No Way Home

Sandman is the final character from the Raimi universe to make an appearance in the trailers thus far. Sandman provides a unique wrench into the theories above. Doctor Strange and Octopus both explain to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker that these visitors from other universes all died fighting Spider-Man, thus sealing their fate within the MCU. 

The issue with this rule is that Sandman did not necessarily die in Spider-Man 3. He more so just drifted off into the wind in sand form, which was proved earlier in the movie not to be fatal. 

This is a slight point for the theory that these are NOT the characters that fans have met before in other movies, but in fact, are villains from alternative universes, movie-goers have never seen. Though it is ambiguous, as it could be claimed that Sandman did in fact die at that moment. 


Lizard Spider-Man No Way Home

With Doc Ock heavily favored to be from his original universe, Green Goblin showing hints of variation, and Sandman having ambiguity around the rules of these Variants, Lizard comes in and breaks that rule altogether. 

Doctor Curt Conners was introduced in the Andrew Garfield-led Spider-Man franchise as the villain of The Amazing Spider-Man. While there is some question to be asked if Sandman did in fact die fighting Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man proves with a heavy hand that the Lizard did not. Doctor Curt Connors was shown in a post-credit scene in a jail cell after his battle with Garfield’s Spider-Man. 

If the rule of these Variants dying while fighting Spider-Man is the reason they have entered the MCU, then that should completely rule out Lizard as a candidate to be from the same universe he was introduced to in The Amazing Spider-Man. His appearance, for the most part, remains the same. So who is this Lizard and where did he come from? These are the biggest questions because this Lizard looks the same as the Lizard fans know. So, why would he be from a different universe?


Electro Spider-Man No Way Home

While the rules and theories have been clearly set up and defined with the first four villains on this list, Electro provides the most bullet-proof evidence to be from a different universe that audiences have never seen before. 

Jamie Foxx still plays this Electro, and he is the one that started the madness that has been the lead-up to Spider-Man: No Way Home. In an Instagram post almost 16 months ago, Foxx confirmed he was not only in this movie, but he is also no longer going to be blue. The trailers backed that up by showing Foxx’s Electro with a tech upgrade and yellow lightning. This breaks the bank on the theories the same way Doc Ock does. 

The Electro introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was transformed into a humanoid eel with electric blue skin. This new Electro has Stark tech, Timbs, and a fade that the Max Dillon from TASM 2 could only dream of. This is not just a different appearance, it feels like a completely different person. While the Green Goblin glow-up is more than likely, the idea of Electro entering this universe blue and changing over to this new version seems highly unlikely. 

This is the strongest evidence that these characters are from different universes. Variants fans have never seen before, played by the same actor. This puts both villains from the Andrew Garfield-led TASM universe as heavy favorites to not be from their origin movies. While all the Raimi villains have substantial evidence to show they are from those Raimi movies. 

J. J. Jameson

J. J. Jameson Spider-Man No Way Home

While all of these villains have been spotlighted with some evidence, either through dialogue, circumstance, or appearance, to be one Multiverse's character played by the same actor. J. Jonah Jameson played by JK Simmons was a staple of the Raimi universe Spider-Man movies, and has now been introduced in the MCU already in the post-credit scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home. 

This somewhat throws out the rule book established above, as Doctor Strange claims that it was the botched identity spell that pulled all of these characters into the fold. But JJ has already been established in the MCU, and is in fact the reason for the spell to be initiated in the first place. The most likely scenario is that this is simply the MCU’s J. Jonah Jameson, and JK Simmons was cast to play the role once again. Loki proved that this is possible and probable, but with the surrounding factors of this movie, it is hard to believe it won’t be addressed. 

Tobey and Andrew

Tobey Andrew Spider-Man No Way Home

So now it comes down to this. The worst kept secret in the history of Hollywood, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker in the MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. 

There is zero proof leaning either way for these Spider-Men. Are they from the franchises of Sony’s past? Or are they Spider-Man in another universe that fans have never seen before? Because there is no proof either way for these characters specifically, all that can be done is to look at the villains they are attached to and make an educated guess. 

Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker has three villains confirmed to be in this film. All of which have strong evidence that they are from the Sam Raimi universe from Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and Spider-Man 3. There are some holes in those theories but overall, the safe bet is that those villains are from those movies.

This would lead many to believe that Tobey Maguire would also be from his original universe in Spider-Man: No Way Home. This makes sense behind the scenes as well as this could serve as one last ride for the original Peter Parker with the actor getting a swan song in the MCU. 

Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker has two villains confirmed to appear in No Way Home. Both have rule-breaking factors that prove they are not from the same universe as the movies fans know them from if we are to believe that all of these villains are here because they died fighting Spider-Man. The safe bet is that both Lizard and Electro are NOT from The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. 

This would lead fans to believe that Andrew Garfield would NOT be from his original universe when appearing in Spider-Man: No Way Home. This will be tough for some to hear, but the silver lining is that this is an opportunity for Garfield to get another chance to play Peter Parker in a spinoff Spider-Man series on Sony’s side of things with the wall-crawling universe they are building. What does that mean for Tom Holland? No one knows, but it is not the worst way to have two Peter Parker’s making movies at the same time. 

We Know Frighteningly Little About The Multiverse

Spider-Man No Way Home poster

This movie is being premiered with more questions than any movie that has been released this year. Not only are all of these characters on the board with mysterious backgrounds, but the concept of which they are being introduced is still being fleshed out in the MCU. The multiverse was properly introduced just early this year in Loki. Spider-Man: No Way Home is sure to deepen that concept in the form of these players on the board. 

The goal, is to get the rules and navigation of the multiverse as fleshed out as possible before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness dives in completely. These are the biggest questions in comic book movies today, and they are sure to be answered on December 17th. 

- In This Article: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release Date
December 17, 2021
- About The Author: Matt Roembke