Trying to guess the plot of a movie from the trailer is always a pointless exercise, especially given modern studios’ propensity for cheating. These days, there’s every chance that promo material will feature footage that doesn’t end up making it into the final movie … a situation further complicated by the smoke and mirrors regularly employed by reality-bending Marvel superheroes such as Doctor Strange.
Even so, there is so much to unpick in the new trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home that it’s worth suspending our disbelief all over again. Have the audio and video been edited to avoid giving too much away? Probably. Are there characters shown behaving in ways that will look different when given their final context? Almost certainly. Are the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield versions of Spidey being cunningly hidden from view? It is certainly starting to look like it.
We do get a look at the returning villains the Lizard and Sandman, though it’s not 100% clear if they are being played by the same actors as in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and 2007’s Spider-Man 3, Rhys Ifans and Thomas Haden Church. But that’s the aspect of No Way Home that is starting to come into view: Alfred Molina’s Doc Oc from Spider-Man 2, Jamie Foxx’s Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin from the original 2002 Spider-Man film are also back – but Spider-Man’s enemies may not be the ones we thought we knew.
Electro has a different costume, Doc Oc has some strange new powers. But most importantly, there seems to be a suggestion that all these supervillains (five of them, mind, so who else will make up the infamous Sinister Six?) met their demise after a final encounter with their own universe’s Spidey. Fair enough in the cases of Doc Oc, the first Green Goblin and Electro, but Curt Connors (AKA the Lizard) was imprisoned rather than killed after his brushes with Garfield’s take on the wall-crawler, while Sandman was allowed to escape by the Maguire iteration. So what is going on?
Could it be that these villains are from alternate realities that do not entirely match up with those we’ve seen before? That might also explain why Doc Oc is 20 years older than in his death scene (as well as the fact that Molina, the actor, has also aged since he last pulled on the robo-tentacles).
If all these baddies are “ghosts”, as Doc Oc describes them, that might explain why they are so determined to take revenge on Spider-Man, and why they appear so unbothered by the prospect of being offed all over again. It would not explain why Tom Holland’s Peter Parker seems so upset by the prospect of their slipping once again off this Marvel coil, however, unless of course it is the demises of the Maguire and Garfield wall-crawlers (or perhaps the entire universes linked to them) that he’s really worried about.
We are still in the dark about why Doctor Strange is acting so weirdly in this trailer. He doesn’t seem himself at all, and it’s tempting to wonder if he’s really being controlled by the missing sixth member of the supervillain team. Scarlet Witch? Mephisto? A returning, or non-fake outtake on Mysterio?
It won’t be long before we find out, as No Way Home is in cinemas from 15 December. In the meantime, good luck working out what that nebulous title is all about: is Peter going to find himself stuck for good in one of the other Spider-verses? Let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, it’s not the tiny corner of Marvel reality that Sony retains the rights to, for he would be much missed by the MCU.