‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Writers Explain How Those Guest Stars Had Input on Their Characters

Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers talk to TheWrap about ensuring the surprise appearances weren’t “curtain calls”

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Warning: Major spoilers for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” follow below.

Fans had been anticipating it for over a year, but it didn’t make the returns of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire any less special when they showed up in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” But getting these prior Spider-Men to agree to return wasn’t as simple as dangling a cameo in front of their faces – “No Way Home” writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers tell TheWrap that they wanted to ensure that the appearances of these other Peter Parkers felt organic to where we left their stories, and would be true to their own iterations of the characters as they arrive to team up with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker thanks to a multiverse crossover.

“Andrew and Tobey came and we had had ideas about how to dig into their characters, and they obviously had their own ideas that were great,” McKenna said during our interview. “It was a ‘yes, and’ with this whole idea of three brothers – older brother, middle brother, younger brother – I think it just worked. It worked for us, it worked for them. Tobey bringing this sort of zen-like attitude, he’s been through a lot but he is this elder brother.”

When it came to bringing Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker back, both Garfield and the “No Way Home” writers wanted to be true to the darker story where we last left him, as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” concluded with the death of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). When Garfield’s Parker arrives in Holland’s universe, he’s in a dark place.

“Organically, we were looking at where Andrew was and where we were coming from and he obviously was on the same page and we just built on it,” McKenna added. “The idea of after ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, let’s be true to where he was at the end of that movie and maybe he’s not in the best place right now, and maybe he has something to prove to himself and to others. Maybe he’s cut himself off from other people, and this is an opportunity.”

Indeed, not only does “No Way Home” tell a complete story arc for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, but despite limited screentime McKenna and Sommers wanted to end the film with Garfield’s Parker being changed by the experience. “That line of, ‘I’ve always wanted to have brothers,’ he’s leaning into that idea of he’s cut himself off from others after the end of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, and this can be a journey for him, too, to start healing and kind of finding a light in that darkness that he’s found himself in,” McKenna added.

Fans have already started clamoring to see Garfield lead another Spider-Man movie of his own, and the character’s arc in “No Way Home” would certainly provide for a nice jumping off point should Sony and Garfield decide to reteam. As of now, though, no such plans have been announced or confirmed, and despite rumors to the contrary sources at Sony tell TheWrap that a Garfield-led “Sinister Six” movie is not currently in the works.

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But Garfield and Maguire weren’t the only returning actors who had ideas about their characters. McKenna recounted how seriously Willem Dafoe took his reprisal of Norman Osborn, who becomes central to the story of “No Way Home” as the film goes on. “I think one of the highlights and most frightening moments of my life was I was on set during production and I was told, ‘Um, Willem wants to take a walk with you,’” McKenna recounted with laughter. “Willem wanted to go and talk about Norman Osborn and where he is and what we were gonna do with the character and we just talked for an hour and it was incredible. He really approaches every role he does, seemingly, just so professionally and he talked about the continuation of his character and what can we do that continues along that story of where he is.”

Indeed, McKenna added that he and Sommers worked hard to ensure that they knew exactly at which point these returning characters were being pulled out of their universes, so they knew what headspace they were in once they collided with Holland’s Peter Parker. Given the payoff, the hard work seems to have been well worth it.