Breaking Down the Sinister Secrets of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Trailer

Breaking Down the Sinister Secrets of Spider-Man: No Way Home’s Trailer
What a long, strange trip Peter Parker is about to go on. (Gif: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)

After what feels like months and months of waiting, at long last, we’ve had a glimpse of Spider-Man: No Way Home in action, and nothing is going right for poor Peter Parker. The world knows his dual life as Spider-Man, he’s being hunted for a crime he didn’t commit, and well, now he has to bear witness to the awesome might of Marvel Studios yelling ‘Multiverse!!!’ a lot. Let’s see what details we can uncover, shall we?

Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

The trailer opens with MJ (Zendaya) and Peter (Tom Holland) hanging out on the rooftop of Midtown High, as the former jokingly reads the latter a scandalous New York Post exposé on how Peter’s powers may include some kind of Spider-pheromone ability to hypnotise women. Of course, we know he doesn’t have those abilities, but Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, does! We’ll see her in Into the Spider-Verse 2, played by Issa Rae — but not in No Way Home. Probably. Maybe. A lot of people are going to be in this movie, it seems.

“Can we like, just stay up here all day?” Peter asks. “It is so crazy down there…”

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… As we cut to what is presumably continuing off from the very final moments of Far From Home, as Peter, now in his Spider-Suit, swings MJ down to the ground after J. Jonah Jameson (the returning J.K. Simmons) exposes Peter publicly as not just the Spider-Man, but the killer of would-be hero Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Peter finds himself interrogated in an NYPD office about Mysterio’s death, attesting that the drones that shot him were the villain’s own, not Peter’s. The man interrogating him has “DODC” written on his jacket, referencing the Department of Damage Control, the former SHIELD and now Stark Industries/U.S. government initiative that is meant to tackle post-superhero-scrap cleanup that played a role in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios Screenshot: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios

Much has been made already of the fact that there’s a mysterious white-shirted figure glimpsed in these scenes who may not be here to interrogate Peter, but help him… legally. There have been long standing rumours that Charlie Cox’s iteration of attorney at law/superhero vigilante Matt Murdock, aka Netflix’s Daredevil, could make an appearance in Far From Home.

Now, we’re not going to go zooming in on a glimpse of arm hair here, and the full body shot we have makes it hard to notice if this figure is wearing Matt’s trademark red-tinted glasses. But the appearance certainly looks similar to Cox’s Murdock, and lord knows Peter needs all the help he can get.

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MJ video calls Peter, asking him if he might feel relieved that his identity as Spider-Man being exposed means he no longer has to lie to the people he loves all the time. “For the record, I never wanted to lie to you,” Peter tells her, as we cut between crowds of people haranguing Peter, MJ, and Ned (Jacob Batalon) as they are escorted to school, and another “flashback” shot to the denouement of Far From Home, as media helicopters surround Peter and MJ. “Now everybody knows,” he continues, as we cut to inside Midtown, as halls full of students pull out their phones to record Peter as he walks past.

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“But this isn’t about me, this is hurting a lot of people,” Peter continues, as we cut between police officers showing up at his and Aunt May’s (Marissa Tomei) apartment, and both Ned and May being interrogated by the police.

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“I’ve just been thinking about how to fix all of this,” the narration concludes, as we cut to a Halloween-set moment for Peter as he looks up at a small set of stringlights of a Vampire with grey-haired temples, which, hilariously, leads to us cutting to…

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Peter showing up at 177A Bleecker Street, the Sanctum Sanctorum, and home of Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Honestly, if while looking at Dracula, Peter’s first thought is Strange — that might be one of the best gags these movies have ever had.

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After Strange lets Peter into a frozen-over Sanctum Sanctorum — which has forced the Sorcerer Supreme out of his typical robes and into a much more cosy Columbia University hoodie and puffy parka, albeit still with his mystical cloak atop it all — and the two exchange pleasantries.

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As Peter fills in his situation to Doctor Strange, we cut to an intriguing shot of a maskless Peter running through a cafeteria (it’s not Midtown’s, as the people there are far too old to be students), as a worker points in a direction for Peter to chase some unseen foe. It’s not just that his mask is off that’s interesting, but Peter is wearing a new, black-and-gold Spider-Suit.

This had previously been revealed by merchandise makers, and simply titled then as, well, the Black and Gold Spider-Suit. Hot Toys’ version of the suit, intriguingly, includes some details we don’t glimpse here: it has a gauntlet over the left arm, fashioned in a similar ornate design to Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto, that Peter can shoot translucent blue webbing from, surrounded by casting circles that once again are reminiscent of Doctor Strange’s magic. Does Stephen help Peter build a suit that helps him traverse the mysteries of the multiverse? Well… we’ll get to why he’d need such a thing soon enough.

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Peter asks Strange a very big question: can he cast a spell that would alter all reality so people forget he’s Spider-Man? Whoo boy.

Wong (Benedict Wong) yells at Strange to absolutely not while he packs his bags and portals to warmer climates (perhaps even to go beat up Abomination in Shang-Chi?), but Strange immediately reneges on his “No Altering Reality at the Behest of Small Children” promise.

We should probably note that this is actually a major, major event from the comics, spinning out of an even more major event: the infamous One More Day, the storyline that saw Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson’s marriage come to an end, dissolved in a deal with the devil to save Aunt May’s life.

One Moment in Time, from 2010, by Joe Quesada and illustrated by Paolo Rivera, is set immediately after One More Day and sees Peter ask Doctor Strange for assistance in healing MJ after she’s targeted by a hitman that, in this new reality, failed to kill Aunt May.

He also asks for a spell to erase everyone’s memory of Spider-Man’s real identity, first exposed during the events of Civil War, and after Strange consults with Iron Man and Mister Fantastic, he agrees — but as Strange makes the final incantations, Peter pulls MJ into the spell, so she at least remembers his secret identity… much to her chagrin, leading to the two becoming distant up until the last few years in the comics.

Oh, and we should probably mention that the devil in question in One More Day was Mephisto, the demonic being that Marvel fans have been expecting to show up everywhere from WandaVision to a small cup of coffee for the best part of a year at this point. Maybe we’ll meet him here, maybe we’ll meet him in Multiverse of Madness, but leveraging elements of One More Day now make his arrival seem a little more likely at some point.

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Anyway! That was a lot. And we get to see more elements of it come into play as Peter and Stephen descend into the Sanctum’s lower levels to prepare the spell, Strange trying to cast as Peter frustratingly keeps asking for alterations — can MJ still remember? Can Ned? Can Aunt May?

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… And naturally things go very wrong. The spell briefly goes out of control, blowing apart the room Peter and Strange are in to reveal the cosmos itself. A few flashes of Technicolor later, we’re back, and… everything seems OK?

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Spoilers: it’s not OK. As Peter swings through New York, Strange tells him “We have tampered with the stability of Space Time. The Multiverse is a concept about which we know… frighteningly little.” New York begins to fold in on itself as Peter and Stephen fly through it, much like the twisty-turny magical visions we saw used by the Ancient One and other spellcasters in Doctor Strange.

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A seemingly random shot of a dust cloud filled with lightning bolts stringing at a car punctuates this danger Stephen discussed. Because Marvel fans are Marvel fans, people are already speculating that this could be related to not one, but two Spidey villains. The lightning, of course, is potentially Electro, and Jamie Foxx’s iteration of the villain in Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been heavily rumoured to be reprised in this movie.

The dust, people are assuming given… well, things we’ll get to later in this trailer, could be another iconic Spidey foe: Flint Marko, aka Sandman, perhaps even specifically the Thomas Haden Church iteration from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.

A fun thing to note: the Daily Bugle van we see on the right here doesn’t entirely match with any previous version of the Bugle logo we’ve seen in the Spider-Man movies. It’s closest to the the Far From Home iteration thanks to the sideways positioning of the ‘The’, but the Bugle symbol in the U is missing — and, as far as we know, this version is strictly an online outlet. Maybe this is another reality, or even more things got changed by Strange’s spell?

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“The problem is you, trying to live two different lives,” Strange mocks, as we see a very trippy sequence of the Sorcerer Supreme and Spider-Man flinging through what looks like the Grand Canyon, atop multiplying New York subway cars. Perhaps, given other references to the film here, a nod to the iconic traintop fight from Spider-Man 2, or maybe Doctor Strange just really has a thing for the MTA.

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A couple of interesting quick shots here — the first sees Strange push Peter out of his suit and into the astral plane, just as the Ancient One once did to him, and Peter is holding a mysterious cuboid artefact with similar intricate patterning like that seen on the Eye of Agamotto.

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The second is a ruined highway we’ll return to later in the trailer, as Peter dons another old suit — his Iron Spider gear from Infinity War and Endgame. Whatever could get Peter Parker back into an old suit with multiple extra arms?

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“The longer you do it, the more dangerous it becomes,” Strange continues as he dresses Peter down, as we see armed soldiers close in the ruins of what looks like an apartment or office. It’s cut with a similar shot, but of a different scene, where soldiers seemingly target Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), presumably from some mysterious force looking for associates of Peter.

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Two more quick shots — the first is very hard to point out, as some shadow-shrouded monstrous figure startles Peter behind some kind of forcefield, slashing at it to cause a red ripple. Peter has plenty of giant-sized foes in the comics of course, but given all the references being pulled here it’s hard not to think of a creature like Curt Connors’ the Lizard.

The good doctor turned slightly-less-good reptile monster has previously featured in both Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s Spider-Man movies although strictly as Dr. Connors in the former (played by Dylan Baker), while in the latter (played by Rhys Ifans), he was depowered and detained at the end of Amazing Spider-Man. Given that movie concluded with Connors being approached by a shadowy figure that was teased to be setting up the Sinister Six, and we never saw those plans come to fruition with the cancellation of Amazing Spider-Man 3 — could they be coming together now?

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Meanwhile, we see more of this lightning-blasting foe attacking Peter, tearing up huge chunks of the ground in the process. Note: Peter is once again wearing that mysterious black-and-gold mystical Spider-Suit.

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Now, if that wasn’t enough Sinister Six hinting, then here we are with the first of a one-two punch of a surprise end to the trailer. On the same highway we saw Peter in the Iron Spider suit earlier, a single, orange and green grenade rolls between two cars, and a mysterious cackle plays as it explodes. This is, explicitly, a pumpkin bomb, the explosive tool wielded by the Green Goblin — and more specifically, the design matches the one seen in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, used by the iconic Willem Dafoe in his interpretation of the villain. Dafoe is just one of several rumoured returning actors from past Spider-Man sagas to be back, and well, this is about as definitive a confirmation as you could get without him showing up himself.

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“Be careful what you wish for, Parker,” Strange warns, as Peter (wearing the same formal suit we saw him wearing in that scene where’s threatened by maybe-Lizard) turns to see a strange, metallic arm thud into the ground… and another. And another!

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“Hello Peter,” Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina, reprising his role from Spider-Man 2), grins, as Peter crouches into a battle stance and activates his Iron Spider gear to end the trailer. Molina was one of the first major rumours around No Way Home when it came to returning actors, so he’s not that much of a surprise to see — especially as he’s been talking about being back already!

But, as Spidey die-hards know, Doc Ock seemingly perished at the end of Spider-Man 2, so how this version of the character survived (whether it is indeed specifically the Raimi Octavius, or another one in the multiverse that just happens to look like beloved character actor Alfred Molina) to battle our own Spider-Man remains to be seen. Maybe Peter could do with a few friends to help find out?

After months of rumours and hearsay, at least some idea of what we can expect from No Way Home has become a little clearer here. Whether it’s the arrival of old foes — and the potential for old friends to follow in their wake, who have also been heavily rumoured — or even just how Peter’s personal problems are going to end up having big impacts on the multiversal direction Marvel movies are trending in at the minute, this new trailer gives us a lot to chew on.

No doubt there’ll be even more to chew on to come, as we get more glimpses ahead of Spider-Man: No Way Home swinging into Australian theatres, currently scheduled for December 26.