MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.
I’ve always lamented how Spider-Man’s inclusion in Captain America: Civil War was spoiled well in advance of the film’s release. Eager to hype people up for Spidey’s inclusion in the MCU, Sony, Disney, and Marvel just had to tell everyone that not only would there be a new Spider-Man film coming, but that the wall-crawler would make his debut in Captain America’s next outing.
Now, I understand why the marketing teams at Disney and Marvel decided on this. While the Captain America films had been well-received, no other film in the MCU at that point had made as much money as the Iron Man films. Laying the groundwork for the MCU as we know it, Robert Downey Jr. put people into seats and propelled the company to its first billion-dollar earner in The Avengers, followed by another billion-dollar earner in Iron Man 3. Since RDJ was already confirmed for Civil War, why not sweeten the deal for people by revealing Spider-Man would be there?
Thing is, I wished that Disney and Marvel had kept his inclusion secret since it would have been an amazing surprise during the middle of the film. While I didn’t really enjoy Civil War much, I’m not sure if a lot of that was because of me waiting for Spider-Man to show up. I really only wanted to see him make his MCU debut. I’ve never cared about Steve and Bucky’s stupid bromance.
With all of that history laid out, the thing that has surprised me the most with Spider-Man: No Way Home is that Disney and Marvel have seemingly finally learned some restraint with marketing upcoming films. Now, fans have been speculating for months about who was going to show up in the web slinger’s latest outing, but none of the trailers played their hand. Focusing more on the returning villains instead of anything else, one could reasonably assume that there would be no other Spider-Men in No Way Home. Thankfully, you’d be wrong.
Yes, the biggest discussion this weekend will be how Disney, Marvel, and the notoriously loose-lipped Tom Holland managed to keep Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s inclusion a secret from the world. I mean, there was some Twitter account that was “leaking” stills and such, but those looked like really bad photoshop jobs. In all honesty, those supposed leaks cast more doubt on this multi-verse story having past iterations of Spider-Man than anything.
As well as two additional Spider-Men, Charlie Cox’s brief cameo as Peter’s lawyer was never even hinted at. Some clever editing in the trailers deftly hid his face and sparked debates about Matt Murdock returning, but Disney and Marvel expertly danced around the character’s appearance…until Kevin Feige opened his mouth a week before release.
Lastly, Venom makes a cameo appearance in the end credits sequence and solidifies how the future of the MCU is going to get super wacky. While we kind of figured Venom would show up considering the end credits sequence of Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it really did seem far-fetched to have this happen within the same year. Couple that with Hawkeye’s not so surprising reveal of Kingpin being its central villain and I’m honestly just amazed none of this completely leaked beforehand. How did Disney and Marvel do it?
Well, for one, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly helped. Throughout 2020, celebrities weren’t really giving many interviews or attending press events due to the lockdowns. With Holland not able to inadvertently run his mouth, we never had a real hint of any of these revelations. Garfield, for his part, vehemently denied his appearance, and Maguire has been entirely silent…except for when he confirmed he was filming for Spider-Man: No Way Home to a random bystander in Central Park. I’m shocked that didn’t make more headlines, but I’m also quite pleased.
Now, I can’t say I was taken entirely by surprise when the two showed up in the film. Everything the trailers had been revealing was leading up to multiple Spider-Men swinging around NYC. I’m just happy that, for once, the marketing didn’t blow the lid off of everything months in advance. I like being able to go to the theater and watch a big-budget action film without knowing every little detail beforehand.
The verdict is still out on whether or not Spider-Man: No Way Home will go down as an all-time classic. I’m leaning on the film possibly relying a bit too much on nostalgia for its own good, but it certainly makes for a hell of a time at the movies. That a major tentpole release can get away with keeping a secret is mighty impressive in 2021. Let’s hope Disney and Marvel keep that up for the next phase of the MCU.