Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Spider-Man: No Way Home

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Director:   Jon Watts 

Writers:    Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers.

US Release Date: December 13, 2021

Budget $200 million

Box Office $1.901 billion

Characters created by: by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Bill Everett, David Michelinie, and Todd McFarlane

Returning characters: Peter Parker (Holland), Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson, Ned Leeds, May Parker, Happy Hogan, Stephen Strange, Wong, Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, J. Jonah Jameson, Matt Murdock, Coach Wilson, Roger Harrington, Julius Dell, and Agent Foster

Characters from Variant universes: Peter Parker (Maguire), Peter Parker (Garfield), Norman Osborn, Otto Octavius, Flint Marko, Curt Conners, Max Dillon, Eddie Brock

Summary:  After Quentin Beck frames Peter Parker for his murder and reveals Parker’s identity as Spider-Man, Parker, his girlfriend Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson, best friend Ned Leeds, and aunt May are interrogated by the Department of Damage Control.

Lawyer Matt Murdock gets Parker’s charges dropped, but the group grapples with negative publicity.

After Parker, MJ, and Ned’s MIT applications are rejected, Parker goes to the New York Sanctum to ask Stephen Strange for help.

Strange casts a spell that would make everyone forget Parker is Spider-Man, but it is corrupted when Parker repeatedly requests alterations to let his loved ones retain their memories. Strange contains the spell to stop it and makes Parker leave.

Parker tries to convince an MIT administrator to reconsider MJ and Ned’s applications but is attacked by Otto Octavius. Octavius rips Parker’s nanotechnology from his Iron Spider suit, which bonds with his mechanical tentacles and allows Parker to disable them.

As Norman Osborn arrives and attacks, Strange teleports Parker back to the Sanctum and locks Octavius in a cell next to Curt Connors. Strange explains that before he could contain the corrupted spell, it summoned people from other universes within the multiverse who know Spider-Man’s identity. He orders Parker, MJ, and Ned to find and capture them; they locate and retrieve Max Dillon and Flint Marko.

Osborn reclaims control of himself from his split Green Goblin personality. He goes to a F.E.A.S.T. building, where May comforts him before Parker retrieves him. While discussing their battles with Spider-Man, Osborn, Octavius and Dillon realize that they were pulled from their universes just before their deaths. Strange prepares to reverse the contained spell and send the villains back to their respective universes, but Parker argues that they should first cure the villains’ powers and insanity that caused their deaths, to change their fates upon their return.

Parker steals the spell, traps Strange in the Mirror Dimension, and, with May, takes the villains to Happy Hogan’s apartment, where he uses Stark Industries technology to cure Octavius. The Goblin persona takes control of Osborn and convinces the uncured villains to betray Parker. As Dillon, Marko, and Connors escape, the Goblin fatally injures May. Before she dies, May tells Parker that “with great power, there must also come great responsibility”.

Ned discovers that he can create portals using Strange’s sling ring, which he and MJ use to try to locate Parker. They instead find alternate versions of Parker from the villains’ universes who were also summoned by Strange’s spell and who are nicknamed “Peter-Two” and “Peter-Three”. The group finds this universe’s Parker, nicknamed “Peter-One”, who is ready to give up and send the villains home to die. The alternate Parkers share stories of losing loved ones and encourage Peter-One to fight in May’s honor, and the three Parkers develop cures for the villains.

The group lure Dillon, Marko, and Connors to the Statue of Liberty. Peter-One and Peter-Two cure Connors and Marko while Octavius arrives to help cure Dillon, and Ned frees Strange from the Mirror Dimension.

The Goblin appears and unleashes the contained spell, which ruptures the barriers between universes, pulling in countless others who know Parker’s identity.

Strange attempts to hold them off while an enraged Peter-One tries to kill the Goblin, but Peter-Two stops him. Peter-Three helps Peter-One inject the Goblin with his cure, restoring Osborn’s sanity. Peter-One realizes that the only way to protect the multiverse is to erase himself from everyone’s memory and requests Strange to do so, while promising MJ and Ned that he will find them again.

The spell is cast and everyone returns to their respective universes—including Eddie Brock, who unknowingly leaves behind a piece of the Venom symbiote.

Two weeks later, Parker visits MJ and Ned to reintroduce himself, but he decides against it. While mourning at May’s grave, he has a conversation with Hogan and is inspired to carry on, making a new suit and resuming his vigilantism.

MCU Connections: When the news broadcast describes that Happy is being investigated for the Stark drones being responsible for the death of Mysterio, a Stark Industry identification card is shown with a picture of Jon Favreau from beginning of Iron Man 3.  The man from Damage Control replies to Peter Parker’s request to speak to Nick Fury by telling Spidey that he’s “off-planet”. His exact whereabouts are unknown, though Spider-Man: Far from Home‘s post-credits scene featured him lounging about on a Skrull As the pair hurtle through the skyscrapers, the audience catches a glimpse of a digital billboard for Rogers: The Musical. The T-shirt Peter puts on once he and MJ get back to his apartment, is the T-shirt he wore back home after Tony Stark took back the Spidersuit after the near-disaster on the Staten Island ferry in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Statue of Liberty wielding Captain America’s Shield where the final battle took place, is the “new and improved Statue of Liberty” Yelena Belova wants to visit in New York on Hawkeye.The robotic arm in Happy’s condo is actually DUM-E, one half of Tony Stark’s ‘helper’ arms. In the scene where Peter walks up the stairway of his school, a mural of famous scientists can be seen including Howard Stark, Dr. Abraham Erskine, and Hank Pym. Wong is now Sorcerer Supreme because Dr. Strange was snapped out of existence and gone for five years. Towards the end of the movie, when Peter goes to visit MJ in the diner to read his prepared speech to her, MJ is wearing the necklace Peter gave her in Spider-Man: Far from Home.

Easter Eggs: When Doctor Strange smacks Peter’s astral form out of his body, it can be seen that Peter’s head has transparent versions of the classic wavy Spider-Sense lines. The name “McFarlane” can be seen tagged on the side of a subway platform, a reference to comic book writer/artist Todd McFarlane who co-created Venom. When Electro attains maximum power, a clearly defined star-shaped burst of yellow electricity briefly forms around his head a few times in the film. This is an homage to the iconic design of Electro from the comic books, who wears a yellow, star-shaped lightning bolt mask. During the final sequence, when multiple tears appear in the fabric of reality, several other classic enemies of Spider-Man can be seen waiting to enter the MCU dimension. Among them are Rhino, Kraven the Hunter, Scorpion, Mysterio, Superior Spider-Man, and Black Cat.

Music: Composer Michael Giacchino references themes from previous Spider-Man films by Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and Danny Elfman, as well as his own themes from Doctor Strange.

My take: I said it before, I like the idea of saving the villains. If I had an accident that changed me jnto a monster, I would want someone to try and save me. One of the brilliance of Stan Lee’s creations is that there is a thin line between heroes and villains. And to paraphrase Dumbledore, Peter has a choice between what is right and what is easy, and like all good Spidey stories, he chooses the right thing and ends up paying a heavy price.

I felt the same kind of glee as when I watched the Crisis episodes on the CW. It shows that those stories matter and that they always existed. It means that somewhere Johnny Storm looks a lot like Steve Rogers, Quicksilver is alive and Magneto’s son, and Peter has two roommates named Bobby and Angelica.

It was so much fun watching Holland, Maguire, and Garfield play off each other. My favorite moment is when Otto, now restored, sees his Peter all grown up.

Next: Moon Knight