Major spoilers ahead! Not since Avengers: Endgame have we seen a comic book film as cameo-laden as Spider-Man: No Way Home. An emotional homage to Peter Parker himself, the movie is bursting with appearances from long-gone villains, former Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?), and even one very recognizable blind lawyer. Basically, it’s a film as much about Tom Holland’s Spider-Man as it is about Spider-Man’s onscreen legacy, all the way down to the two-post credit scenes, which offer a glimpse at where his two custody-sharing parents, Disney and Sony, plan to go from here. Let’s dive in.
So what happens?
In No Way Home’s first post-credits scene, we see a continuation of a moment that actually began in Venom: Let There Be Carnage’s post-credits — which showed the moment Doctor Strange’s spell teleported Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock into the MCU. Here, we catch up with Eddie, who’s drinking and doing his signature incomprehensible mumble (subtitles on all films WHEN) with a bartender at a divey-looking bar. He’s asking the bartender to tell him about the “super people” who live here, and expresses doubt that Thanos really existed — to which the bartender rebuts, “Señor, he made my family disappear for five years.” Just as Eddie decides that he should go to New York City to talk to said super people, he’s summoned back to his own world, just like all the other characters who came waltzing through as a result of Doctor Strange’s botched spell. But a drop of Venom’s symbiote goo gets left behind, and it moves before the screen cuts to black.
Does that mean that Venom is really part of the MCU now?
Whew, it’s complicated. It all goes back to Sony and Disney’s 2014 “content licensing agreement” that decides how Spider-Man and his buddies get to appear in the MCU. The deal is a quid-pro-quo situation, meaning that if Spider-Man appears in the MCU, then the MCU loans out one of its characters for the standalone Spider-Man films, like Iron Man and now Doctor Strange. The two corporate giants seem to constantly be in talks about this — their deal famously fell apart in 2019 before Holland himself literally begged them to patch things up — and as a result the two companies haven’t always been on the same page when it comes to telling fans what’s next.
Essentially, while Venom’s post-credits scene hinted that Hardy’s Eddie is now part of the MCU, No Way Home’s companion scene tells us that he probably is…not. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has always stated that while Spider-Man is their joint baby, “adjunct” properties like Venom (and Morbius, most likely) are not interconnected with the MCU, even as Sony Pictures chairperson Amy Pascal claimed there was “always a chance” they could be. Sure, that could change in the future, but right now it seems very purposeful that Eddie was sent back just like everyone else, right before Strange sealed everything back up. Considering the spell required an immense sacrifice on Peter’s part, it wouldn’t make much narrative sense to backtrack just for another Hardy cameo.
But, but, the goo!
Yes, so the more likely answer to this conundrum is that while Hardy may not be a part of the MCU, the symbiote itself may not be out of the question. Maybe Venom will end up just finding a new host in the MCU, like a different Eddie, or Flash Thompson, or Peter Parker himself, just like in Marvel’s popular 1985 Secret Wars run. Everything is pretty up in the air right now though, as talks are still underway on whether there will be more films featuring Holland.
Hang on, is this Holland’s last Spider-Man film?
Technically, yes. Sony and Disney originally agreed on six films: three standalone Spider-Man films, and three cameos in other MCU movies. If No Way Home reads as a send-off to Holland’s Spider-Man, it’s because in a sense it is: at the time of filming, Holland’s contract was ending.
Since then though, there’s been a series of mixed messages. In a Nov. 17 GQ profile, Holland mused that he doesn’t want to be playing Spider-Man when he’s 30. (Holland is currently 25.) On Nov. 29, Sony chairperson Amy Pascal told Fandango that they’re planning the next trilogy of Spider-Man films with Holland, but Disney has not announced anything similar. And in December, Sony CEO Tom Rothman rebutted Pascal’s statement, telling Variety that “my dear sister-in-arms, Amy, is a very optimistic person” but “nothing has been determined.” So until they come to a solid agreement on new terms, essentially yes, the Holland Spider-Man universe is on hold.
Wow, okay, well what’s going on in the second post-credits scene?
Oh, you mean the trailer? It’s literally just a teaser trailer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. As Holland told GQ, No Way Home was meant to release after Doctor Strange 2, which presumably would’ve introduced the multiverse in its stead. But when that film got delayed due to COVID, it was decided that No Way Home would go first — requiring director Jon Watts and his team to change No Way Home’s plot and dialogue as they were filming. This resulted in No Way Home feeling a bit hodge-podgey (but to be clear, still fun!), and based on the teaser, Doctor Strange 2 very well may have a similar problem.
Fine, the trailer. What happens in it?
A lot! We hear Strange’s line from No Way Home, in which he says they’ve “tampered with the stability of space time” and “the multiverse is a concept of which we know frighteningly little.” We then hear someone say that Strange’s “desecration of reality will not go unpunished.” Strange says “it was the only way,” but he “never meant for any of this to happen.” Then we see shots of the Sanctum, Christine Palmer’s wedding, queer Latina superheroine America Chavez (played by Xochitl Gomez), and Wanda Maximoff, who’s living in the woods after the WandaVision catastrophe. Strange tells Wanda he knows about Westview, but he’s here because he needs help with something related to the multiverse. We then see Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo and Benedict Wong as Wong (who, as a reminder, revealed in No Way Home that he’s now Sorcerer Supreme), who tells Strange that “the greatest threat to our universe is you.” Cue the reveal of what appears to be Strange Supreme from the animated What If…? series, who kind of shrugs and says, “Things just got out of hand.” We also see Wanda with some orb, doing magic stuff in a new Scarlet Witch costume.
So what does it all mean?
It means you should watch Disney+’s WandaVision and What If…? if you haven’t already, unless you want to be really confused going into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. (Luckily for you, they’re both pretty great series.) It also suggests that Wanda will not be the villain of that movie, debunking one popular theory after a supposed leak. And if that really is Strange Supreme from the animated series, it means things are going to get very weird very fast, and whatever happens will likely have truly cosmic consequences for the rest of the MCU.
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