“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is lighting up the box office as the Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios collaboration is the definition of a crowd-pleaser, but getting there was no easy task. Originally, “No Way Home” was going to be released after Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” so “No Way Home” writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers told TheWrap during a recent interview that they initially set about crafting the story of the “Spider-Man” film to directly address what happened in the “Doctor Strange” sequel. This was key because, as those who’ve seen “No Way Home” know, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange has a vital supporting role in this particular Peter Parker story – a story that also deals directly with the idea of the multiverse explored in this summer’s Disney+ series “Loki.”
“When we started breaking the story and even started writing the script, we followed ‘Doctor Strange 2’ in the timeline,” McKenna told TheWrap. “So then during pre-production, things got pushed and changed. We were supposed to start shooting in July of 2020 and it became November of 2020, our release date got pushed from July 2021 to December 2021 – there were a lot of things flipping around.”
When “No Way Home” was going to follow “Doctor Strange 2” in the MCU timeline, McKenna and Sommers had to consider where Doctor Strange’s headspace was at following the events of “Doctor Strange 2,” which finds Strange seeking out Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff and delving deeper into the multiverse (the sequel is now due for release in May 2022).
“Originally we were writing this where Strange was gonna be involved but it was after the events of ‘Doctor Strange 2’, and so where is he where is his head, and so that’s something that we were kicking around,” McKenna explained. “And then now it seems to be more of like, ‘oh this actually gets him interested in pursuing the multiverse as a concept.’”
Indeed, the finale of this summer’s Marvel Disney+ series “Loki” saw the muiltiverse unleashed as a result of the actions of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, so the question many had with regards to “No Way Home” was – does the “Spider-Man” film, which sees the multiverse cracking open, happen at the same time as that “Loki” finale? And do the actions of one affect the other?
“We were already down this road when that ‘Loki’ finale happened,” Sommers admits, acknowledging that the events of that “Loki” finale weren’t planned to coincide with the events of “No Way Home” but it worked out that way regardless. “We all felt like, this really helps. This is great, because it shows that there is trouble in the multiverse.”
“Whether certain things that were happening in ‘Loki’ line up in terms of the timeline exploding and is that the same time that Doctor Strange is casting the spell, I don’t know,” McKenna conceded. “There is, I’m sure, the Marvel talking points to that. But we were aware of a lot of the different things that were going on, and could we draw on those, how it would be affected by this thing, but ultimately we had our own giant story bear to wrestle with.”
As for the decision to pair Tom Holland’s Peter Parker up with Doctor Strange for this Spider-Man film, the writers say that’s an idea they were attracted to early on for obvious reasons. “I think we were gravitating towards Doctor Strange from a pretty early time, the strongest reason probably just being if Peter is gonna seek to somehow undo this mess, that just seems like a logical person you would go to,” Sommers said. “This is a person who has the ability to do things like that and so not only is he a great character who we’d love to see team up with Spider-Man and there’s lots of awesome canon in the source material of Strange-Spidey team-ups, but like Chris said the one thing that we knew we had to deal with — which was a gift more than a curse – was the story engine of Peter’s identity has been exposed.”
The writers started from the cliffhanger at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and went from there, which quickly led them to the multiverse idea. “We knew that this was gonna drive the whole thing, and there are different ways he could deal with it,” Sommers added. “Could he go out and clear his name or find who sent that video to J. Jonah Jameson or something? But wouldn’t it be way cooler if he went to Doctor Strange and they tried to use magic? Just immediately when you say it, it’s way more fun. Let’s do that.”