There’s not much Tom Holland can reveal about Spider-Man: No Way Home – but the ‘biggest moment’ of the movie will involve Doctor Strange.
The web has never seen this level of inquisitive fan anticipation. Avengers: Endgame may be one of the highest-grossing films ever, but No Way Home may be the most speculated movie ever made; most notably, the hype for the possibility of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s friendly neighbourhood heroes swinging in to help fight the Sinister Six.
Absolutely nothing with regards to that theory has been confirmed, only hinted. And, with great power comes great responsibility; Holland is no longer his younger, spoilerific self. He’s calm, composed and hardened to sneaky journos fishing for scoops and that reveal. While hardly a slip – if anything, it was just honesty – he did manage to tease the film’s ‘biggest moment’.
Straight out of the gate, the stakes are enormous: after Mysterio’s death in Far From Home, the world knows Peter Parker is Spider-Man, aka Public Enemy No. 1. In a desperate bid to undo the reveal, he asks Doctor Strange to make it so nobody in the world knows his secret identity.
Somehow, the spell is botched, opening up the multiverse and bringing in some visitors, namely: Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Sandman and Lizard, all past foes of different wallcrawlers; still Peter Parkers, but other universes. ‘They all die fighting Spider-Man… it’s their fate,’ the Sorcerer Supreme warns Peter in the trailer.
I sat down with Holland ahead of No Way Home’s release. Disclaimer for the plot-thirsty fans: he didn’t drop any spoilers, nor was there any discussion of the thing we’re all expecting. Instead, given the mouth-frothing excitement all around him, I asked a simple question to start: ‘How are you coping?’
‘Mate, it’s been pretty overwhelming. But I’ve got a great team; Sony and Marvel have been helping us and making sure we know what to say and what not to say. It’s been really rewarding; hearing fans’ reactions and seeing everyone so excited. This morning, I put the Spider-Man suit on and we drove around the city and it was very fun. People’s excitement was giving me a big boost for today,’ he said.
We quickly moved onto some specifics: firstly, the privilege and experience of working with veteran Spider-Man villains not just from my childhood, but his too. ‘I do remember hearing their stories about making those original films. Alfred would talk about back in the day, his arms were real and puppeteered by four different people,’ Holland said.
‘He gave them names, I forget them… it was quite interesting hearing him talk about those films and also seeing his reaction to how films and technology have progressed. It was so limiting back then, and now the sky is the limit.’
From the moment Jamie Foxx spoiled his own return on Instagram, later followed by Alfred Molina’s Feige-fumingly candid interview about taking on the tentacles again, once-nutty theories about a live-action Spider-Verse suddenly didn’t seem crazy at all.
There’s also Holland’s earlier interview on Jake’s Takes, where he shiftily reacted to the idea of swinging alongside Maguire and Garfield, before bursting into boyish hype at the mere prospect. Again for the record, neither Holland nor anybody has confirmed their appearance in No Way Home – but opening up the multiverse has been in the works for quite sometime.
‘I mean, we’ve always spoke about the idea of trying to do this. I think the release of Far From Home, there were conversations about this idea. But at the time it felt like a pipe dream… and here we are today. We followed that pipe dream, so hopefully it works,’ he said.
I did take Holland to task on that Brazil trailer, which featured a pretty telling blunder of Lizard being punched in the face by an invisible person. Many have taken this as confirmation of past Spider-Men coming out to play, but don’t expect Holland to comment on it. While smiling as I introduced the question, he firmly answered, ‘I don’t think anything about that.’
I pivoted to another character drowning in conjecture: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange. The first teaser saw a wave of theories hit social media, all honing in on the implausibility of a loveably arrogant hero performing a dangerous spell – by the way, he’d definitely do it to help Peter, since he no longer has Tony Stark as a father figure. ‘This is why I never had kids,’ he even jokes in the second trailer.
Some believe it could be an evil Doctor Strange variant, others think the real Stephen Strange could be locked in a prison dimension, and, god help us, a few honestly suspect it could be the work of Mephisto. The trauma of week-by-week WandaVision theorising still has a grip on people, it seems.
We’ve seen glimpses of conflict between Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, whether it’s punching Peter’s astral form out of his body or whatever the hell is happening with those flying trains.
I asked Holland if he could talk about how the movie will affect their relationship going forward in the MCU. ‘It’s an interesting one. You’re asking some tricky questions,’ he said.
‘I can’t answer that truthfully without spoiling the biggest moment of the film. But they are two people who have a lot of respect for each other – they might not like each other all that much, but there’s definitely some mutual respect there. It’s interesting, Spider-Man is the kind of person who always gets on with people and does as he’s told, so it’s quite nice to see him crack the mould, and kind of be a bit bad.’
No Way Home is our gift, our curse. After two more sleeps, we’ll have all the answers we crave. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts.’
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into cinemas this Wednesday, December 15.
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