Spider-Man: No Way Home is a film that shouldn't exist. In addition to diving headfirst into the Multiverse, No Way Home featured three different Spider-Man stars from three different franchises spanning nearly two decades, and that wasn't all. The Tom Holland-led threequel also brought in five villains from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's past Spider-Man films, not to mention the MCU's own Doctor Strange.
Somehow, the magic, the Multiverse, and the Spideys all worked as the movie offered audiences a dose of nostalgia and a new, fresh start from Tom Holland's own Spider-Man and even a potential new story for Andrew Garfield's former web-slinger.
Even so, as Doctor Strange said, "the Multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little"; this left fans questioning whether Maguire and Garfield's Spider-Man films are now part of the MCU canon?
Why Sony's Spider-Men are MCU Canon
First of all, there's no denying the fact that both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's iterations of Spider-Man, as well as their respective baddies, were in an MCU film. They also took part in events that canonically occurred, even if those in the world of Holland's Peter no longer remember due to Strange's spell.
Therefore, they are officially canon in the MCU.
Marvel actually proved as much in a recent update to its official website which now includes pages for Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Peter Parkers/Spider-Men.
In addition to receiving the title of "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man," Maguire's iconic Spider-Man suit from his trilogy is on full display; and as additional proof, the site now describes Maguire's web-slinger saying:
"Our friendly neighborhood hero swings into the MCU in his iconic suit."
Meanwhile, the site appropriately listed Garfield's Spidey as "The Amazing Spider-Man." In addition to an image of his suit, his description also supports his MCU canon status and reads:
"The one and only Amazing Spider-Man webs his way into the MCU."
Why Maguire & Garfield's Spider-Man Movies Are In the MCU
So while Maguire and Garfield's canonical MCU status appears to be indisputable, what about their films?
Tobey Maguire's entire Spider-Man trilogy was released before the existence of the MCU. In fact, Spider-Man 3 was released in theaters in 2007 while Marvel's Iron Man - and the MCU itself - wouldn't debut until 2008.
Meanwhile, Sony released Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, the same year as Marvel's The Avengers, followed by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014; but both of those Spidey films were notably and intentionally separate from the MCU.
However, the fact that Maguire and Garfield's Spider-Men in No Way Home weren't Variants (like many expected) and actually referenced their own adventures in an MCU film lends credence to their canonical status.
Although, what truly proves their newfound status is how Sony's library of Spidey films shaped the MCU's Peter Parker in an MCU film. After all, both Maguire and Garfield's characters were the ones who showed Holland's Peter that his Aunt May's death wasn't in vain; and they also helped him grasp "what we do" and the message of "with great power comes great responsibility."
Without them - and the lessons they learned in their own films - Holland's Peter wouldn't have become the hero that audiences saw before the credits rolled.
In addition, without the MCU's No Way Home acknowledging what those former Peters experienced in their movies, the film's villains probably wouldn't have been cured, MJ wouldn't have been saved by Garfield's Spidey, and Tobey's Peter may not have stopped Holland's Peter from killing Osborn's Gobby.
Basically, Holland's Peter Parker is who he is now because of Maguire and Garfield's films.
MCU Canon vs. the MCU Timeline
Now, it's important to note that even though Sony's Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man films are now MCU canon, they're not part of the MCU timeline. Instead, they exist in separate timelines and/or universes.
Technically, this means that there are two types of canon: events that take place in the MCU timeline and those that occur in an alternate timeline.
In a way, Maguire's Peter and Garfield's Peter are to Holland's Peter what Sylvie and Classic Loki were to Tom Hiddleston's Loki in the Disney+ series. The only difference is that No Way Home utilized films and characters that were created by another studio.
However, this is actually more beneficial than it is problematic. For years, fans have been petitioning Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige to support Marvel's past TV shows like Daredevil, Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, and more as MCU canon.
With the Multiverse, this is now possible and it wouldn't cause issues for the MCU current timeline.
This also allows for Fox's X-Men and Fantastic Four to exist in the MCU; and if the rumors surrounding Doctor Strange 2 prove to be correct, that's exactly what Marvel Studios intends to do.
Thanks to the Multiverse, both the studios and the fans can have their cake and eat it too while still maintaining the integrity of past stories and cinematic universes; and since it only proved to be a benefit to MCU's Spidey and No Way Home, why wouldn't Marvel continue?
Spider-Man: No Way Home debuted in theaters on December 17, 2021.