While No Way Home ended up being Holland's one and only Phase 4 role, fans now know that wasn't Marvel Studios' original plan.
Marvel Cut a Tom Holland Spider-Man Cameo
According to MCU veteran costume designer Graham Churchyard, Tom Holland was supposed to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In a resurfaced interview with LRM Online, Churchyard revealed Spider-Man was supposed to have "a very brief cameo appearance" in Doctor Strange 2:
"'Spider-Man: No Way Home' was supposed to come out after 'Multiverse [of Madness]' and then with COVID scheduling it came out before. So Doctor Strange and his new costume and America Chavez were supposed to go into Spider-Man [No Way Home], and Spider-Man was supposed to come into - for very a brief cameo appearance - into 'Multiverse [of Madness]'. But then COVID just shook it all up."
Just as Churchyard explained, Marvel Studios' pre-pandemic slate had Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness releasing in May 2021, followed by Spider-Man: No Way Home two months after.
But again, COVID-19 "shook it all up," forcing Marvel Studios not only to delay its slate but reshuffle its release order, particularly since Marvel had to release Spider-Man 3 to comply with Sony's rights and distribution requirements.
In the end, No Way Home premiered in December 2021 while Doctor Strange 2 debuted in May 2022, both with significantly altered storylines resulting in Holland's cut cameo.
As a result, No Way Home has been Holland's only Multiverse Saga role so far, but he is expected to star in Spider-Man 4.
Now, while knowing that Phase 4 almost had more of the web-head is disappointing, some head-scratching concept art from Spider-Man: No Way Home not only supports Churchyard's news but may explain why Marvel removed Holland's cameo.
For instance, one piece shows Peter Parker talking to what appears to be a bedridden Stephen Strange in his Sanctum bedroom from Doctor Strange 2.
The use of the same location makes sense if Strange's sequel preceded Holland's threequel but not so much with the reverse.
The most telling No Way Home artwork, however, is an image of America Chavez holding a mysterious book during a Multiversal event, along with concepts of Chavez at Spider-Man 3's final Statue of Liberty battle.
Why Marvel Scrubbed Spider-Man From Doctor Strange 2
While fans don't know the exact details of Tom Holland's Doctor Strange 2 cameo, its removal makes sense if it had to do with America Chavez since audiences hadn't met her yet.
But even so, it's tough to argue that Multiverse of Madness - and the connectivity of the greater MCU - wouldn't have been better with Spider-Man.
In fact, some sort of Spidey presence wasn't just expected but seemed natural given Strange and the Multiverse's involvement in both.
Ultimately, all audiences got was Wong and Strange acknowledging "an incident with Spider-Man" and a few disturbing questions about his powers.
In reflecting on what could've been, the big question is how Spidey's role in Multiverse of Madness would've changed how and why he approaches Strange in No Way Home.
Wouldn't Peter already know about the Multiverse prior to his own film? Would there have even been that botched spell in the Sanctum?
Perhaps those answers will be revealed one day. But for now, it's safe to say both of Tom Holland's Spider-Man roles impacted the MCU, even though one was never fully realized.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is available to stream on Disney+.