Spider-Man: No Way Home Recap — Easter Eggs, Cameos & More
Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: No Way Home premiered in theaters on Thursday, December 16, 2021. The newest Marvel movie stars Tom Holland (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Zendaya (Michelle “MJ” Jones), Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan), Jacob Batalon (Ned Leeds), and Marisa Tomei (May Parker) all reprising their roles from the previous Spider-Man films, with Benedict Cumberbatch joining the fray as Doctor Strange. Other appearances include villains from the multiverse such as Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Sandman (Thomas Haden Church).
We made a few connections and conjectures about the film with our Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer breakdown blog. But this film delivered far more than could have been predicted. Below, read our recap of the most recent Spidey installment — plus, we consider the impact this project has on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Warning: Spider-Man spoilers beyond this point.
Spider-Man: No Way Home opens immediately after the ending of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Peter Parker has been unmasked by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) and the Daily Bugle, and people crowd around MJ and Peter with phones and questions. Peter whisks MJ away to safety, though helicopters and breaking news follow the young couple to May’s NYC apartment. How is Peter going to get out of this? Well, he has plenty of support — even Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) cheers him on, telling him “Go get ’em, Tiger!”
Most importantly, Peter Parker isn’t alone in this struggle. He has plenty of friends, and frenemies, and enemies, taking this journey with him. So who are they, and how do they help or hinder Spider-Man’s narrative in the newest film? Keep reading to find out.
Cameos and Special Appearances
Matt Murdock / Daredevil
One thing’s for certain — being part of the Avengers just has its perks. Peter Parker has plenty of allies. He’s already joined by MJ, Ned, May, and Happy Hogan. But when Peter’s in a heap of legal trouble, he seeks advice from a fan-favorite counsel: Matt Murdock AKA Daredevil (Charlie Cox). A lawyer by day and vigilante by night, Matt’s appearance in the canon MCU sent fans screaming. His hilarious and brief cameo had him helping Peter out of his Public Enemy #1 status, and then deftly catching a brick that’s tossed into the Parker apartment. When asked how he accomplished that, Matt, who is legally blind, simply replies, “I’m a very good lawyer.”
Wong and Doctor Strange
Although their criminal records are expunged, MJ, Ned, and Peter are denied admission to MIT because of recent controversy. Feeling guilty, Peter goes to Doctor Strange. Stephen suggests a spell which will make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Wong (Benedict Wong), the Sorcerer Supreme — “on a technicality” since Strange blipped for five years — warns them against this course of action and asks to be left out of it because tampering with time and space and the multiverse can only bring disaster.
Peter alters Strange’s spell multiple times during its casting. This makes the spell unstable, and Strange contains it before it can cause irreparable damage. Then he sends Peter away — but soon he’ll be calling Peter back, considering the horrors they’ve just unleashed.
The Sinister Six
We already knew we’d get a good portion of the Sinister Six. This dangerous group of Spider-Man’s super-villain enemies is composed of Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Electro, Sandman, and Kraven the Hunter. Vulture (Michael Keaton) was the villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) already appeared and died in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Strange’s botched spell brings villains Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Electro, Sandman, and Green Goblin into our main MCU universe — what the TVA from Loki would call “The Sacred Timeline.” Doc Ock comes first, and tries to take over Tony Stark’s Nano Tech. Peter subdues him with quick thinking, and they get transported to Strange’s home before Peter can face the Green Goblin.
Using an upgraded, magically enhanced black and gold Spider-suit, Peter tracks down these displaced bad guys. Sandman is a helpful ally in the fight against Electro, whose power up includes a cool nod to the original Electro’s comic costume and golden mask. Peter puts them in Sanctum Sanctorum’s dungeon where Lizard is already held captive. There our heroes learn that all these men died fighting Spider-Man in their own universes. Strange wants to send them all home to meet their fates. Peter, inspired by May and a friendly Norman Osborn (who is something of a scientist himself), wants to cure them of their villainy and send them back with new purpose.
When Norman goes on sabbatical, though, the best laid plans go awry. The villains escape before they can be healed. Green Goblin kills May, and wounds the one cured villain, Doc Ock. Peter has to go on the run once more.
In the end, Spider-Man defeats his foes. From the rips in the fabric of the universe, we also see the silhouettes of villains Kraven the Hunter, Scorpion, Rhino, and Black Cat, among others. But Peter doesn’t do this alone. He has a lot of help from…
Peter Parker and Peter Parker
Spider-Man villains weren’t the only ones displaced from their own universes. When Ned and MJ need to speak to Peter, Ned uses his stolen sling ring to make a portal. Through the first one steps a different Spider-Man — Andrew Garfield, reprising his role from the second batch of live-action Spidey films. After he proves that he’s Spider-Man by clearing a cobweb from the ceiling, Ned opens a portal to the next Peter. This is Tobey Maguire, the original on-screen Spider-Man.
Affectionally dubbed Peter 2 and Peter 3, these Peters help Peter 1 (Tom Holland) with his villain cures. They face down the villains together. After they win, they are sent back to their own universes with no memory of the battle they just fought. Their cameos are as amazing and nostalgic as expected.
There’s plenty of references to previous Spider-Man films as well as pop culture quips in Spider-Man: No Way Home. These include:
- The entirety of the film is loosely based on the Marvel Comics storyline One More Day.
- Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) writes a book entitled Flashpoint — Flashpoint is a major DC Comics event involving The Flash.
- When MJ falls off the Statue of Liberty, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker catches her. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter was unable to save Gwen Stacy when she fell from a clock tower.
- J. Jonah Jameson calls Spider-Man the “Spider Menace” and “Web Headed War Criminal.” These are references to previous Spider-Man movie and Marvel Comics Daily Bugle covers.
- Electro says that Doctor Strange is “dressed like Dungeons and Dragons,” a popular tabletop game.
- Steve Ditko’s name is graffitied on the top of Peter’s high school roof.
- In the scene where Peter talks to the MIT Admissions Officer, there is a taxi cab with the number #1228. December 28th is Stan Lee’s birthday.
- After getting rid of the Green Goblin mask, Norman wears a purple hood. This costume is indicative of Harry Osborn’s Hobgoblin persona.
- Ned Leeds promises Peter that he’ll never turn into a supervillain and try to kill Peter. In the comics, Ned Leeds is brainwashed into becoming Hobgoblin and partners with Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin.
- Peter and Ned are LEGO® fans. In the film, Peter has a minifig Emperor Palpatine™ and Death Star™ set from Star Wars™.
- Electro and Peter theorize that there has to be a Black Spider-Man out there somewhere. Unknowingly, they are talking about Miles Morales.
- When the Peters group up, their staging is a reference to the popular “Spider-Man pointing meme.”
Impact on the MCU
This film has one of the biggest impacts on the MCU since Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos snapped half the population away. As shown in the post-credits Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer, it has immediate consequences for Stephen Strange, who cast the spell which erased Peter Parker from the world’s memory. Yes, the entire world.
MJ, Ned, Happy, the Avengers, and even Strange himself don’t know Spider-Man’s actual identity anymore. Peter lives alone in a small New York apartment, and he’s studying for his GED, and all the Marvel heroes can’t even call on him. But Strange could really use some help with this whole fractured multiverse, which is why he’ll recruit his old friend Scarlet Witch instead of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Ultimately, the multiverse has been fully cracked open now. There are major ripples throughout the MCU, and we can now access heroes — and villains — from every timeline. All the Spider-Man related characters found their way home, but if a symbiote were left behind, what else could be lurking in the shadows?
Finally, Daredevil’s official introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when we remember Daredevil’s greatest enemy Wilson Fisk just appeared in the Disney+ Hawkeye show. Will these characters carry over into other series such as She-Hulk? As we get more and more fantastic Phase Four content, there’s really no limit to the potential of the MCU.
Have you seen Spider-Man: No Way Home yet? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!