Spider-Man: No Way Home looks set to introduce multiple versions of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man to the MCU. But is Peter Parker ready?
WandaVision hinted at it, the Disney+ series Loki discussed a war about it. It’s been on the horizon for months.
Finally, Spider-Man: No Way Home is set to depict the MCU multiverse in all its glory. But are we ready? Is Peter Parker ready? Are all the Peter Parkers ready?
Prepare for confusion
As an avid fan of the multiversal concept, I for one welcome the introduction of the concept as one of the corner stones of Phase IV of the MCU.
In my mid-teens, I read a host of books on time travel. Many didn’t shy away from introducing complicated physical concepts such as quantum physics, where as it turns out, decisions at the quantum level can theoretically give rise to a multitude of universes. In simple terms, there could be multiple versions of myself out there in a real-life multiverse. As if more of me were ever needed!
‘A real-life multiverse? That’s a fanciful suggestion Barry’ you may say. Well, the physics and mathematics speaks for itself – the multiverse is conceivable and possible.
But are we prepared for it?
One way of exploring how we might react to the multiverse is to explore it in popular culture. Enter Peter Parker and Spider-Man, and prepare for confusion.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock and ignored all social media postulations over the past year or so, you’re most likely aware that Spider-Man: No Way Home will see the return of some fan-favourite Spider-Man villains who met their demise in previous Spider-Man films.
I’m most excited at the return of Doctor Octopus. Alfred Molina depicts the character brilliantly in Spider-Man 2 (2004), and it was such a shame that the character didn’t make the end credits of the film. But thanks to some creative writing and the bizarre notion of the MCU multiverse, which has been battered and bruised by the actions of Sylvie in Loki and cracked open by a botched Doctor Strange spell, Otto Octavius lives to fight Spider-Man another day. Good for him, but bad for Spidey perhaps.
Other villains are set to appear with Electro, Green Goblin, Sandman, and the Lizard also joining the fray. Five of the much heralded Sinister Six are in place then. But who is villain number six? Perhaps it’s the multiverse itself. It’s a dastardly concept to be honest, fit to be a Shakespearean villain if you ask me.
With the villains from the other Spider-Man films casually dropping by to cause Tom Holland’s Spider-Man all manner of problems, it seems inevitable that the other live-action Spider-Men, depicted with varying successes by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, will also appear in the film. However, is any Peter Parker ready to meet the other Peter Parkers?
Is Peter Parker ready?
I guess the simple answer is no, but you have to do what you have to do to stop the villains from rupturing the multiverse. My guess is that if the villains aren’t returned to their respective universes in time, other universes will start spilling into the MCU universe leading to a cascade effect that transitions to the Multiverse of Madness, which is something for another article (Hey maybe Deadpool or Wolverine will appear in the final battle scene too as the multiverse starts to unravel!).
The main question here relates to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s preparedness for the multiverse versions of himself. How do you prepare to meet alternate versions of yourself?
I don’t think you can. It’s not like there was a chapter in the ‘Superhero Manual’ written by Tony Stark for Peter Parker, who probably only flicked through it in his over-eagerness to become an instant superhero and join the Avengers. Plus, if it was written by Tony Stark, it probably contained a few (understatement of the century) ethical discrepancies.
Traumatic events for multiple lifetimes
I think the psychological scars after Tom Holland’s Peter Parker meets the other Peter Parkers will be immeasurable. Maybe the effect would be the same as experiencing serious traumatic events?
Recall that Tony Stark experienced episodes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after carrying a nuclear missile through a wormhole over the streets of New York City. He spent Iron Man 3 trying to come to terms with the experience, which eventually contributed to him creating Ultron, and we all know how that turned out.
Back to Parker then.
It could be argued that Tom Holland’s Parker has experienced enough traumatic events to send anyone spiralling into anyone of a number of oblivions. His girlfriend’s father tried to kill him, he fought aliens in New York City, he was choke slammed by an alien warlord on an alien planet, he was snapped out of existence, he came back to fight the same alien warlord on Earth, he was befriended by a would-be ally with a fishbowl on his head, and finally the same would-be fishbowl-wearing ally revealed his secret identity to the world. In my opinion, that’s enough trauma to last multiple lifetimes in the multiverse.
Spider-Man: No Way Home will undoubtedly open with Parker coming to terms with the fact that he no longer has a secret identity thanks to Mysterio’s revelation. There’ll be police questionings and court room appearances. And if the rumours are to be believed, a certain Matt Murdock might be representing Parker as he seeks to clear his name of any involvement in the death of Quentin Beck. But he might also be represented by the go-to attorney from the Simpsons – Lionel Hutz. Now that would be a sight!
Nevertheless, later in the film, the court room cases and constant attention from the world will suddenly become insignificant when Peter Parker meets two individuals who have the same name, almost the same powers, live in the same city, look slightly different, and come from different universes. Trauma turned up to eleven.
I don’t envy what lies ahead for Peter Parker (pick any of them here) in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Their respective worlds are going to be ripped apart, and they’ll be forced to face the fact that their individuality in the universe will be eradicated in a multiverse instant.
In my mid-teens I thought it would be cool to meet alternate versions of myself. However, I only recently contemplated the traumatic effect this might have on my being. Do I really want to meet multiple versions of myself? Could I meet multiple versions of myself? Well, they are out there for sure (the multiverse is certainly conceivable remember).
Hopefully seeing how Peter Parker deals with meeting other Peter Parkers will provide us all with valuable lessons when it comes to meeting our multiverse variants in the future. I’m sure that will help dispel any multiverse fears that you might harbour.
So, it’s time to get ready for Spider-Man: No Way Home. The multiverse is coming, it’s real, and it’s going to be incredible.
Well, that’s what I’ll tell myself until I meet my evil equivalent from the multiverse.
Then I might just seek help from Peter Parker.
Any Peter Parker that happens to be available that is.