I know what it looks like. We finally got the trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and we definitely see Doctor Strange cast some kind of spell that causes villains from the non-MCU Spider-Man movies to show up. But it’s not fair to assume that this is just some screwup.
Let’s go through the details. At the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio managed to fire off a posthumous message outing Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as Spider-Man. And now that everybody knows his secret identity, his life is in shambles. So he asks Doctor Strange to whip up a spell that would make everybody forget Spider-Man’s secret identity.
Wong doesn’t like it, but Strange glibly goes for it anyway, powering through all of Peter’s questions about the specifics of the spell — Peter doesn’t actually want everyone to forget. But something goes wrong. Perhaps related to Peter “tampering with the spell” by talking while Strange is doing all those hand motions. But whatever it is, the multiverse intrudes on the MCU in a big way. We see Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock from “Spider-Man 2” show up at the very end, just after we hear the laughter of Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin.
There are plenty of conclusions you could draw from this thing — and “Doctor Strange really messed this one up” is certainly a valid one. But I don’t think he messed up. I think he had a specific reason for doing this spell beyond Peter asking for it.
But this is just a trailer, so there isn’t really enough info to ever try to start guessing what that reason is. But I think Doctor Strange probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. We’re talking about the guy who set the Avengers down the “Endgame” path — the only person maybe in the universe who could have done that. He’s the kind of person who always has a reason for doing what he’s doing, especially when what he’s doing is rewriting reality like this.
What this whole thing hinges upon is what Strange knows about the multiverse before trying out that spell. “The multiverse is a concept about which we know frighteningly little,” he says. But what is the little that he knows? Does he know that the floodgates have been opened after all that madness on “Loki”?
It’s conceivable that he doesn’t, in which case he would probably think that a spell like this wouldn’t actually do anything — it’s exactly the kind of thing that the TVA would put a stop to. So he might have been trying to sarcastically teach Peter a lesson about not being able to change the past or whatever and not expecting anything to happen.
But it’s more likely that he knows that the multiverse arrived and has his own reasons for, well, provoking it like this. I’d guess the results are somewhat more chaotic than he expected, since perfect protagonists aren’t fun, but Strange is a guy who plans and strategizes. Not a guy who does crazy spells like this just for funsies. He’s gotta be acting with intent here.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is set for theaters this December