Welcome to Shot by Shot, our ongoing series of movie and TV trailer breakdowns. We’re constantly scouring for perfect shots, and in this column, we share our favorites and discuss them. In this entry, we wander into the multiverse madness that is the Spider-Man No Way Home trailer for a shot-by-shot breakdown.
Good things come to those that wait. After months of teetering anticipation, the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer has arrived, and it contains what we thought it would contain. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) gets unglued from reality and tumbles through the Multiverse with his Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) sidekick. Director Jon Watts is back to close out his trilogy and further establish the dimensional cracks splintering throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Can No Way Home do the impossible? Return credibility to the original Sam Raimi trilogy and throw some love to The Amazing Spider-Man reboot as well? All signs point to…maybe?
Okay, okay, okay, take a moment. Catch your breath. Yes, that was Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus. Yes, that was Willem Dafoe‘s laughter echoing atop a Green Goblin pumpkin bomb. And, um, did we catch six other sinister foes hovering around the fringes? Yup, it appears so. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield can’t be too far behind, right?
But let’s slow down. Let’s chop into this trailer and go shot-by-shot. We’ve picked out eleven critical frames. There’s a lot to be excited about here, but we also don’t want to start spotting Mephistos where they may not be…uh, on that note, we may have spotted Mephisto too. Gulp.
The cat – er, spider – is out of the bag. Thanks to Mysterio’s last-ditch trickery as seen in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the entire world knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. And the kid can’t take it. On a rooftop with MJ (Zendaya), Peter’s at peace. Down below, however, that’s a totally different story. The public swarms around his personal life. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) ‘s The Daily Bugle barks at his heels. No one trusts a kid in a mask, and the outcry threatens Peter’s most precious relationships. If only he could magically make the world as blissful and as quiet as this sunny rooftop.
Public Enemy #1. I love this split-screen representation of the Peter/Spidey relationship. It could have easily been drawn by Spider-Man’s co-father, Steve Ditko. It’s straight out of the classic comics.
Tony Stark made the superhero business look easy. He could do that; he was a billionaire. Peter doesn’t have the luxury of erecting mansions and walls around him. He’s just a kid from Queens, and his neighbors will eat him alive, never mind the villains milling around.
Peter makes his way through an angry mob. Ned has his back, but for how long? The expression on Peter’s face says it all. He’s more than terrified; he’s sorrowful. But when he reaches for help, the friendly hand that reaches back might not be oh-so-friendly. That protester over Peter’s shoulder calls him “a devil in disguise,” but what if that title belongs to another?
Peter and Stephen Strange haven’t spent too much time together. During their first encounter, they were both hurtling toward the Mad Titan’s home planet. That skirmish ended with Peter and Stephen dusting off this mortal coil, leaving Tony Stark to grieve. But their introduction was a lesson in how to pull a get-out-of-jail card. When Peter requires a quick-fix for his sticky secret identity situation, he turns to his levitating goateed Avenger co-worker.
Inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, Peter finds Stephen’s pad in icy disarray. What’s going on here. Has hell frozen over?
Peter explains to Stephen how the Mysterio revelation has destroyed his daily life. We see Peter rushing through F.E.A.S.T. (Food, Emergency, Aid, Shelter, and Training), the homeless shelter briefly spotted in the last film and a common battleground found within the most recent video game series. Not only does Aunt May do quite a bit of time there, but Martin Li (a.k.a. the dastardly Mister Negative) runs the joint.
It’s also worth noting the black-and-gold Spidey-suit Peter’s strapped inside. Based on early peeks at the toyline, this suit functions alongside some Stephen Strange spell-casting. You have to wonder if this F.E.A.S.T. belongs to our prime MCU reality or another Earth entirely.
Despite Wong (Benedict Wong)’s warnings, Doctor Strange agrees to help Peter with his identity issue. Just as the spell gets into motion, Peter begins to question its effectiveness. He doesn’t want MJ to forget their time together. Or Ned, or even Aunt May. Is the price too high? As Peter starts to waffle, the Doc’s spell runs wild. When playing with reality, Stephen destroys the barriers between universes.
Stephen pulls a move on Peter that he once experienced by the Ancient One’s hands. He casts Peter’s astral form from his body. These two don’t share the bond felt between Peter and Tony. That’s clear. Although, you have to wonder if there’s something else going on with Stephen Strange. He’s always been a bit reckless with his powers, but his actions here seem catastrophic.
In the comics, Doctor Strange did help Peter wipe his identity from the world’s memory, but it only came after a massive deal with the devil was struck. To save Aunt May’s life, Peter Parker allowed Mephisto, Marvel’s Mephistopheles, to magically trade his marriage with MJ for May’s safety. No Way Home will not directly adapt this storyline, but we could encounter the demon working within Doctor Strange, which would also conveniently set up the more horrific Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sequel.
If that wasn’t bad enough, darker forces descend on Peter Parker. We catch a brief glimpse of a Lizard-like creature lunging for Peter. Then, we see yellow lighting strike out at a black-and-gold Spider-Man while a Sandman-like storm erupts behind him. We know Jamie Foxx‘s Electro will appear, but this could also be Thomas Haden Church‘s Spider-Man 3 baddie.
It’s time to count down the threats: 1. Mister Negative. 2. The Lizard. 3. Electro. 4. Sandman. Just two more, and we’ve got the Sinister Six storyline Sony’s been promising us since The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
And in the next shot, we get the Dafoe laughter and the Green Goblin pumpkin bomb. So, boom, another major Spider-Man foe. But maybe we’re counting our Six Sinisters before they hatch. Does this bomb actually have to be hurled by the Green Goblin? The man in our next shot could have easily grabbed it from Norman Osborn’s lab before squaring off with Peter near the George Washington Bridge. But that’s not fun. We need Dafoe.
Also, Mister Negative doesn’t really fit with these guys. Isn’t it more likely for Michael Keaton‘s Vulture to make a return appearance? As great as it will be to see the Goblin, Electro, or Sandman battling the MCU’s Peter Parker, they don’t have the same emotional connection to Peter as Vulture. The Sinister Six needs that raw, personal anger.
Of course, now’s not the time to worry about the personal connection. Marvel and Sony are selling tickets here. And when it comes to the great Spider-Man movie villains, Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus sits on top. His reappearance, connecting Raimi’s reality to the MCU, is just the tip of the Multiversal iceberg. When he says “Hell0, Peter,” we have to question which Peter he is actually addressing. The final shot belongs to Tom Holland, but there’s a strong suspicion that Doc Ock’s goggles are zeroed in on an unseen Tobey Maguire. The Spider-Verse has arrived. It won’t feel truly complete until the first cinematic Spider-Man graces us with his wall-crawling presence.
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17th.