Spider-Man: No Way Home – Into the Web of Hidden Details You May Have Missed

Christian Movick, Multimedia Editor & News Writer

Spider-Man: No Way Home was perhaps the most anticipated film of 2021, and has earned nearly $2 billion world-wide while currently sitting at the fourth largest grossing film in the United States. Given the scale of this movie, it’s not surprising that it included many hidden details, references, and easter eggs that were easy to miss even for the die-hard fans. After all, the movie is an accumulation of 20 years of film. Of course, spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home are to follow.
The movie kicks off where we left off, with Peter Parker’s identity being exposed to the world as being NYC’s Spider-Man. Afterward, we see Peter swinging MJ through New York City, where one billboard reads “Rogers the Musical,” which was seen many times in the Disney+ show Hawkeye. Peter and MJ then land on the Queensboro Bridge, the same bridge seen in the previous two Spider-Man series’, particularly in Tobey Maguire’s where the Green Goblin and Tobey’s Spider-Man fought on in the first film. While Spider-Man turns a corner, two magazines can be seen. One says “Iron Boy Jr.” on the cover, which references how many critics of Tom’s Spider-Man claimed his iteration felt more like an “Iron Boy Jr.” than Spider-Man. Once Peter and MJ get back to Peter’s apartment, he puts on a shirt that’s the same as he wore in Homecoming after Tony Stark took away his suit. When Peter is in custody, he can be seen wearing the same shirt he was wearing at the beginning of Spider-Man: Homecoming when he had an awkward hug with Tony Stark in the car.
Later, we see Peter sitting in Happy’s apartment waiting to hear back from MIT, where we see a robot by the table he’s sitting at. This robot is actually Dumm-E, the robot that Tony Stark owned and that we can see all the way back in the first Iron Man film. We then see Peter, Ned, and MJ walking into their school, where Betty Brant says the line, “Go get ’em, tiger!” This line is echoed throughout the comics and other Spider-Man media towards Peter, however it is primarily said by MJ. We then hear a guy in the background yell, “Do a flip,” which is actually an archived audio bit that originates from Spider-Man: Homecoming, when Spider-Man is standing on a roof and a man named Klev tells him to do a flip. A man then asks who Ned is, but instead Flash cuts Ned off and says that he is Spider-Man’s best friend, not Ned. Flash then points to his book, titled “Flashpoint,” which is a reference to a phenomenon in the DC universe where the Flash goes back in time and, in doing so, messes up the timeline and has trouble with other universes throughout the multiverse. Once Peter walks into the school building and up the stairs, we can then see several different famous scientists on the wall behind him. Some of them are actually Marvel characters, which includes Howard Stark, Hank Pym, and Abraham Erskine, the German scientist from Captain America: The First Avenger. We can then see Peter putting together a Lego Deathstar, a callback to when Peter and Ned were building the same lego set back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. After that scene, we see Peter and MJ lying on the rooftop together, where on the wall in the background, the name “Ditko” can be seen. This is actually a reference to the fact that Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man.
Cutting to when Peter, Ned, and MJ are all in the coffee shop, black cats can be seen on the wall behind Peter as Halloween decorations, a small nod to the character Black Cat which hasn’t yet been introduced to the MCU. One thing about this film is that it follows similar events as the comic line titled “One More Day,” wherein the comics Spider-Man had already willingly unmasked himself to the public. In the comic One More Day, Aunt May dies, and Peter is then told by the character Mephisto, which is essentially the devil, that he will bring May back to life, but in return, Peter will no longer have a relationship with MJ and everyone else will forget that their relationship ever happened. This comic line was very controversial, and many critiqued it heavily, so the fact that this film followed a similar path was quite gutsy yet impressive that Marvel pulled it off.
Cutting back to the film, we later see Peter trying to find the car the Assistant Vice-Chancellor is in where he tries using the Iron Spider suit’s AI. However from his view, the suit issues a message saying “Stark network unavailable,” which is because Stark Industries was under investigation and many of the company’s belongings were confiscated. We can then see a Taxi behind the Assistant Vice-Chancellor’s vehicle, with the Taxi’s license plate reading “1228.” This is a nod to Marvel comic-writer Stan Lee, who is now deceased but was born on December 28, 1922. This date on the license plate was also CGI’d in and was not the actual license plate on the vehicle on set. We then see Doctor Octopus from Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man universe, who questions Peter regarding his machine. When Peter then says he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Otto says, “The power of the sun in the palm of my hand. It’s gone.” This is a direct reference to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, where Octavious had made a fusion reactor, and he said the line “the power of the sun in the palm of my hand” on a few different occasions. We then see Spider-Man save a car that was thrown off the bridge by using his web to attach the back of the car to the bridge. This is a reference to the first The Amazing Spider-Man movie, where the Spider-Man in that film used his webs to attach the back of different vehicles to the sides of a bridge, and on top of that the cars’ license plate that he saved also reads “TAS” which stands for The Amazing Spider-Man. Doctor Octavious then says, “I should have killed your little girlfriend when I had the chance,” which refers to Spider-Man 2 when Octavious had taken Mary Jane, trying to provoke her Spider-Man. They then fight, but after the fight, when Octavious has Peter pinned, Octavious absorbs the Nanotech from Peter’s suit and says, “Nanotechnology. You’ve outdone yourself, Peter.” This is possible because in Spider-Man 2, Octavious’s arms are actually made of Nanotechnology. Even Norman Osbourne was working on Nanotechnology, as he said at the beginning of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film. Hence, it is possible that Octavious really got his technology from Norman in the first place, a character that appeared in this movie shortly after their fight.
Fast-forwarding to when Strange brings Ned and MJ into the Sanctum Sanctorum, Ned tells Doctor Strange that he has tingly feelings on his hands sometimes and that his Nana says magic runs in their family, which Strange then responds, “You should talk to your physician.” This is foreshadowing later in the movie when Ned is able to open portals using the sling ring. Strange then tells the gang to “Scooby-Doo this s—.” The interesting thing about this line is that the movie actually follows a similar plot to a story in the mini-series “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo,” wherein the show the gang unleashed 13 demons into the world and has to put them back into the Chest of Demons, similarly to how in the movie they have to capture the villains and then use the box (the name of the artifact is actually called the box) to send them back to their respective universes. Cutting back to the movie again, Ned reads off of the computer which he then says that a potential villain was spotted by a military base, suspected to be the Green Goblin. This is a reference to the Goblin’s first appearance in costume in the first Spider-Man movie, where he blew up a military base in an act of vengeance.
We then later see Electro appear above an electric line, and when he “wakes up,” we hear dubstep music startup for a few moments, which is actually Electro’s theme by Hans Zimmer from The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Later, when Electro is captured, we see some of the villains talking amongst each other, with one of the things said being by Max, where he says referring to Dr. Connors “…he turned himself into a lizard, then he tried to turn the whole city into lizards. It was crazy.” This was a nod at the joke about how many people thought The Amazing Spider-Man’s plot was bizarre, that being Dr. Connors’s goal to turn everyone in the city into lizards. We then see Spider-Man scurrying to the FEAST center where Aunt May works. The FEAST center is actually a homeless shelter featured in the Spider-Man comics and other media, such as Marvel’s Spider-Man video game for the PS4.
Once Peter arrives at the FEAST center, Norman Osbourne confirms that Oscorp does not exist in this universe. Afterward, Peter talks to May, where she then tries to talk to him about helping these villains that came from different universes. Peter then says that this isn’t his problem, which May then tells him, “This is what we do.” Peter saying that this isn’t his problem was said similarly by the other Spider-Men in both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s movies at the beginning of their stories. The line “this is what we do” is also echoed throughout the remainder of the film.
Fast-forwarding a bit again, after Peter steals Doctor Strange’s box, Strange pushes Peter’s astral form out of his physical form. When Strange then reaches for the box that Peter’s physical form is holding, his physical form is somehow able to move. This is actually possible because of Peter’s Spider-sense. Since Peter’s astral form was pushed out of his physical form, his body went into an “auto-pilot mode,” if you will, where his body sensed danger. Hence, his arms moved so that Strange couldn’t grab the box because Peter’s spidey-sense is embedded down to a genetic level, so since his astral form was pushed out, his body went on this “auto-pilot” mode. After Peter gets his astral form back into his physical form and runs off, Peter gets swooped up by the cloak of levitation, which is a nod to when Spider-Man wore the cloak in the Disney+ TV series “What If…?”
After the battle between Peter and Strange, Norman Osbourne then insists he can help Peter in his plan to fix the villains, where Norman says, “You know, I’m something of a scientist myself.” This is a direct reference to the first Spider-Man movie where Norman said that exact line that has since become one of the internet’s most popular memes. Once Peter, May, and the villains reach Happy’s apartment, Max then turns on the TV using his powers, where you can see a poll with the commentators talking about the Statue of Liberty being updated into a Captain America memorial with 67% of people not approving of the statue being updated this way, with 33% approving.
Looking a bit further into the film, after Peter fixes Otto and Norman turns into the Goblin, we see Peter web Goblin’s hand to the wall. Despite this, he’s able to pull his arm from the webbing and walk off, demonstrating just how strong he is that he’s able to break the webbing of Spider-Man’s. While Spider-Man is fighting the Green Goblin, we can actually see the same moves Spider-Man performs in the PS4 exclusive video game being performed here in the film. Tom Holland confirmed this before the movie was released when he said that some moves that were in the game would also be displayed in the film. In this scene in the film, Peter jumps up into the air, shoots his webs at the ground on each side of the Goblin, and pulls himself towards the Goblin, kicking him through multiple floors. We see that same move done to the Kingpin at the beginning of Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4. The fact that the Goblin can be pushed through several floors on numerous occasions also demonstrates the pure strength the Goblin has to be still able to walk around and not be unconscious at that point.
Later, we see May and Peter standing in the building, where May gives the famous line, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.” This line is perhaps the most famous line in the realm of superheroes and comics and was muttered in one variation or another by Uncle Ben in the previous Spider-Man films as well. However, many don’t know that while most think this line was changed from how it originally was, that’s actually not true. In Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” which is how most people know the line to be. However, the first time this line was ever said in the comics was actually written as, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility,” just as Aunt May did in this film. Unfortunately though, this line did foreshadow her death, as every time Uncle Ben said that line, he died shortly after. We then see Happy pull up outside of the building and get arrested by the FBI, so it’s possible that Happy used Matt Murdock for his lawyer.
We then see Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man appear through portals opened by Ned, a moment that had many fans feeling excitement down to their core. From here on out, the three Spider-Men will be referred to as the actors that play them to refrain from further confusion. They then go to talk with Tom Holland’s Peter on the roof of his high school, where they share their life’s story. Tom tells the other Peter Parkers that Aunt May died for nothing, similarly to how the other Peter’s felt about how their Uncle Ben’s died. While the three Spider-Men’s conversation contains numerous references to previous films, none of them are necessarily easter eggs or hidden references that could be easily missed. However, if this conversation showed anything, it’s that this is their origin; their beginning. These past three movies that Tom has had were his origin story; this is only the beginning of his character. All the Spider-Men’s stories start with their uncle/aunt dying and realizing that there is something greater they need to step up to.

Greater responsibility and a coming of age; this is how their stories begin.

Later we see the three of them working altogether in the school’s lab, with them trying to figure out how to fix everyone. Tom is noticeably bothered when Tobey says he thinks he can fix the Goblin. Tobey then remarks, “We gotta cure all of ’em, right?… It’s what we do.” A line that was previously said by Aunt May to Peter in the film.
Cutting back to the film, while Tom and MJ are talking in the lab, Andrew is seen staring at them from over the beaker in front of him, implying how he’s reminded of the relationship he once had with Gwen Stacy. Tobey and Andrew then talk about relationships, with Tobey mentioning his universe’s MJ, saying that they made it work. Perhaps they are married or even have kids; who’s to say. Shortly after, we see Ned call for a Peter, and the three Peter’s then stand up. However, they don’t just stand up, but they point! That’s right, No Way Home included one of the most famous Spider-Man memes, replicating the scene from the 1967 Spider-Man animated series when two Spider-Men were pointing at each other, and his since been turned into a meme. Apparently, the idea to include this meme in the film was the idea of Andrew Garfield. Not only that, but during this part, the official script of the movie actually says, “All three-point at each other… Memes!” Hard to believe that was actually written into the script. Ned then promises Peter that he will not turn into a supervillain and kill Peter, which may also refer to the fact that Ned sometimes became the “Hobgoblin” in the comics.
We then see the three Peter’s on the scaffolding of the Statue of Liberty that is under renovation. While Andrew and Tobey are talking, Tobey then mentions that he has back problems. This is a reference to another meme from Spider-Man 2, where Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker jumps off a building after losing his powers and falls, landing on a car before hitting the ground where he then exclaims, “My back!” which has since become a meme from the series as well. This also may have been a reference to the fact that Tobey Maguire had experienced some back issues while shooting scenes for his movie. We then see Andrew ask Tobey if he’s ever had a web block, to which he then responds that he has. This is a reference to when he was unable to use his powers in the second Spider-Man film. When asked why this happened, Tobey replied, “existential crisis,” to which Andrew replies, “pfft, tell me about it.” This is actually a reference to Andrew’s mental struggles in his past, where he actually used to struggle with “what is life” and just a complete “outside of the body” experience where he himself has said he struggled with a period of existential crisis just thinking about life and the universe and such. The three Peter’s then talk about different villains they’ve fought, to which Tobey mentions how he fought Venom, while Tom mentions how he fought Thanos. Andrew then insists that he is boring for not having fought an interesting opponent in his view, to which Tobey then insists repeatedly that Andrew is “amazing;” A wink to the camera given his Spider-Man movies were titled, “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
We then see Electro show up, where for a brief moment, the lightning emanating from him makes a silhouette of how his costume he dawned appeared in the comics. All three Spider-Men can be seen to have their unique traits; for example, in this movie, all three Spider-Men’s webs sound different, as in all three of their series, they had their unique sound effect. Electro also refers to Andrew as his “old friend Spider-Man,” which may actually be a reference to how Max was suggested to have a mental illness and used to think Spider-Man was actually his friend before he turned into Electro. Electro can also be seen wearing Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor, which can be heard making the same sound effect as when Iron Man shoots his repulsors in previous films since it’s coming from the same energy source.
We then later see the three Spider-Men come together on the scaffolding again and try to figure out how to work together better. Tobey then yells at Tom, which may not have been an intentional reference but was very reminiscent of when Tobey dawned the symbiote suit, which turned him into a more aggressive person. This version of Tobey’s Peter later became a meme known as “Bully Maguire.” We then see the three Spider-Men all come together in the same shot to take on Sandman, the Lizard, and of course, Electro. One thing about this shot though is that we actually saw this shot in the trailer, just with Tobey and Andrew edited out. However, in the Brazilian version of the trailer, the clip lasted a few more seconds which showed the Lizard’s head going sideways while he was in mid-air, seemingly being punched by nothing. This caused many to speculate that Andrew was edited out in the shot and that he was the one that hit the Lizard. We see this coming to fruition with Andrew wheel-barrel-kicking the Lizard in the movie. Shortly after, we see Andrew up in the air avoiding Electro’s lightning in slow motion, almost identically to how he did in a slow-motion shot from when he fought Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Later, after Doctor Octavious comes back and helps the Spider-Men and cure Electro, Max then tells Andrew’s Spider-Man he thought he would be black and then continues to say, “There’s gotta be a black Spider-Man somewhere out there.” This is a direct reference to Miles Morales, a variation of Spider-Man from the comics that has also appeared in other media. However, this version of Spider-Man has additional powers, such as turning invisible, directing energy, and focusing it to where he wants. We then see Tobey talking to Doctor Octavious, with the theme from Tobey’s movies playing in the background as it did a few other times in the movie previously. Otto then says, “You’re all grown up. How have you been?” The part of Otto mentioning how Peter is all grown is him almost directly talking to the audience that grew up with him in a way, as many fans of Tobey felt similarly when they saw him appear. Additionally though, Peter then responds by saying, “trying to do better,” which is the same thing he told Otto in his second movie when Octavious told Tobey’s Peter that he was lazy. Keep in mind that since Otto was pulled from the past, that conversation was merely just a few days ago to him, while to Tobey, that conversation happened roughly 20 years prior to that point. So the fact that Tobey remembered that conversation with him from so long ago was surprising to Octavious, as it was just the other day in his memory.
Later we see Tom, Andrew, and Tobey all standing by Strange as they get ready to send everyone back to their universe. However, before that could happen, the Green Goblin appeared from the sky, yelling, “can the Spider-Man come out to play,” which refers to when the Green Goblin called Tobey’s Peter on the phone and said the same line in the first Raimi film. The Goblin then throws out razor bats at the Spider-Men, where we see Tom perform the same moves that Tobey did in his first Spider-Man movie to avoid the flying weapons. We then see MJ fall from the scaffolding after the Goblin throws a pumpkin bomb, and it explodes, with Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man jumping after to save her. This is, of course, a call back to how Andrew tried to save Gwen Stacy in his last movie but was unsuccessful, and she, unfortunately, died from hitting the ground. Many people viewed this as one of the film’s many highlights, with Andrew having redeemed himself. Even though Andrew wasn’t able to save his love interest, he wasn’t going to let the love interest of another Peter Parker die, let alone the same fate.
Tom’s Peter and the Green Goblin then fight, and while Tom is about to kill the Goblin with his own glider, Tobey steps in and stops him. However, as Tom eases, the Goblin stabs Tobey through the back. After the Goblin is then cured and Andrew asks Tobey if he’s okay, Tobey responds by saying, “I’ve been stabbed before.” Not only did this fool the audience into thinking that Tobey might die, but this was also a reference to when Harry stabbed Tobey in the third film of Tobey’s. We then see the universe begin to crack, with the silhouettes of Kraven, Black Cat, Scorpion, Rhino, and possibly Mysterio being seen in the sky. Tom’s Peter then tells Doctor Strange to make a new spell that makes everyone forget Peter Parker. This shows the responsibility and maturity that Peter has developed throughout not just the series, but the single film alone.
When Tom says goodbye to Tobey and Andrew, he’s unable to convey his thanks and how he feels to them truly. However, Tobey then tells Tom, “We know, it’s what we do,” a line echoed throughout the movie’s entirety. The single phrase means many words but primarily means that this is what Spider-Man does. They sacrifice themselves and put their Peter Parker life on the line for the greater good, whether fighting for the little guy or fighting off an enemy that threatens the lives of people in an entire city. The struggle between balancing lives, learning that responsibility, coming of age, and sacrificing themselves for the great good; that’s what Peter Parker does; what Spider-Man does.
Fast-forwarding a bit further in the movie, when Peter goes to the coffee shop where MJ works, the coffee cup that’s given to Peter actually ties into Daredevil. In a shot from Daredevil season 2 episode 5, journalist Karen Page can be seen holding the exact same cup, implying it’s from the same coffee shop. This is yet another connection from the Daredevil series to the MCU, though most people likely didn’t catch it as it was very minor. We soon after see Peter standing over the grave of Aunt May, whose tombstone reads, “If you help someone, you help everyone.” This is ripped directly from the PS4 Marvel’s Spider-Man game, wherein the game after Aunt May dies, her grave reads the same quote, while the quote is also echoed throughout the game as being said by May often. Right afterward, we see Happy show up, where he references Tony Stark when talking about his friend that “died a while back.”
We then see Peter get his first apartment, which is nearly identical to the apartment that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man had in his movies. This is now a couple of months after the events of the rest of the movie. We then see Peter set a Lego Palpatine figure on a table, which references how he and Ned put together the Lego Deathstar together in Tom’s first Spider-Man movie. We then see Peter with a police scanner set-up on his phone, which is very reminiscent of the Spider-Man in the PS4 video game where Peter also uses a police scanner not just in his apartment but integrated into his suit as well. The camera then shows the table where the Lego figure is again; however, we also see a coffee cup sitting on the table, suggesting that Peter has continued to visit the coffee shop that MJ works at after we last saw him do so.
We then see Peter in his new Spider-Man costume he created himself jump out of his apartment window, a suit that is extremely accurate to the classic comic book suit from the comics. We then see him swing by the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, which is also a place in the Hawkeye Disney+ series where the final battle takes place. During the credits, all three Spider-Men are shown in a sketch. Interestingly enough though, when Tobey’s face is shown, there is an equation next to his head that actually translates to ethylene glycol, which is likely what his body produces and combines with other things to produce the spider webs from his wrist.
We then see a mid-credits scene with Eddie Brock sitting in a bar talking to the bartender. At the end of the scene, although we see Eddie get transported back to his universe along with Venom, a blob of the symbiote can still be seen on the counter that moves a bit before cutting to black. Keep in mind, this is right after Eddie says, “maybe I should go visit this Spider-Man,” so it seems likely that the symbiote is looking for Peter. This would take a while before it reaches him, considering this bar Eddie was at was in Mexico, while, of course, Peter is in New York.
All in all the third installment of the web-slinger in the MCU has scored tremendous ratings among critics. On top of the 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it has a score of 93% from its critics. That makes it tied for the third best MCU film from Rotten Tomatoes’ critics along with Thor: Ragnarok, and from an audience perspective is the number one rated MCU film yet. Fans are also calling on Marvel and Sony to make a fourth Spider-Man film for Tobey Maguire to continue his movie-line, and even more so to make The Amazing Spider-Man 3 with Andrew Garfield. There are also some rumors circulating that Sony and Marvel are already looking at bringing back the two Spider-Men for another appearance at some point in the future, however those rumors are unconfirmed. Spider-Man: No Way Home began streaming March 15 on on-demand video streaming services such as Vudu and Amazon.