While Spider-Man: No Way Home presented us with a surprisingly contained and emotional story, it still did a great job laying the groundwork towards the future of the MCU. Sure, we have those mid and post credits scenes. Then there’s the nature of Peter Parker going it alone. But there’s a more subtle thread running through the film that seems to be leading towards two of our most anticipated Marvel titles: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ironheart. And it’s all about Peter, Ned, and MJ’s first pick choice for college, MIT.

Did Peter, MJ, and Ned Get into MIT?
A still from Spider-Man: No Way Home shows Tom Holland as Peter, Jacob Batalon as Ned, and Zendaya as MJ looking over a computer seriously
Sony Pictures

Let’s start at the beginning. We learn Peter, MJ, and Ned have all applied to the same three colleges. MIT is their collective first choice. But in the wake of the Spider-Man controversy and Peter’s unmasking, none of them get in. If that was all we got of MIT we could argue this might be a coincidence, but the rejection is the inciting incident of the film. It’s what causes Peter to go to Doctor Strange and ask for his help. After botching the spell, Strange is infuriated to realize that Peter didn’t even plead his case to MIT. It’s a really good point and Peter sets out to find the MIT Assistant Vice Chancellor (Paula Newsome) to get Ned and MJ a second chance. He saves her from Doc Ock on the bridge and she promises to put in a good word for all of them.

Of course, as the film ends no one remembers Peter Parker, let alone the MIT Assistant Vice Chancellor. But when Peter visits MJ at her coffee shop hoping to tell her what happened, he sees that she and Ned did indeed get into MIT. Not only that but they’re both happy, safe, and oblivious to Spider-Man and the chaos they recently escaped. So, naturally, he leaves them be. It’s a heartbreaking moment that puts the three previously inseparable friends on different paths. And they’re not the only ones who got into MIT as Flash Thompson will be joining them.

Why Is MIT Important to the Future of the MCU?
A still from Infinity War shows Shuri with her Panther gauntlets on
Marvel Studios

So why does MIT matter? Well, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had the rare privilege of being able to shoot on the MIT campus. Although many films have been set there, the university rarely approves productions to actually shoot on location. But MIT released a statement that said they believed there was true value in having the film represent MIT. And that makes a lot of sense. The first Black Panther film was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. So why would they be shooting at MIT at all? Well the most obvious answer comes from the fact that we now know that Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) will debut in the film. In the comics, she’s a student at MIT and that’s where she designs her Ironheart suit. We also know she’ll have her own show; it’s likely that MIT will play a key role there too.

It would be very easy to connect Shuri’s role at the end of Black Panther—sharing the resources of Wakanda with Oakland and the world—to her potentially ending up as a professor at MIT. We also know that Erik Killmonger was an MIT alumnus, so the connections are there. It could also simply be that Wakanda needs Riri and her intelligence. Either way, we cannot wait to see how this all plays out. And, of course, in light of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seems even more vital. So don’t count out meeting Newsome’s Assistant Vice Chancellor again soon…

How Could No Way Home Connect to Black Panther 2 and Ironheart?
the logo for ironheart shows the word in bold against a plain background
Marvel Studios

The obvious answer is that we could see Ned and MJ attend MIT alongside Riri. It would be a really smart way for the two fan faves to stay in the franchise even without their connection to Peter. We now know Ned has magical powers and MJ is a force to be reckoned with. Plus, it could add a lot of emotional heft to have MJ and Ned becoming close with people who also once loved and worked alongside Peter. We don’t know where Black Panther 2 or Ironheart will fit into the timeline, but we know that Ned and MJ will be heading to MIT soon. So this really feels like it could lead to big things for both of Peter’s besties. Also, wouldn’t it be cool to watch MJ working alongside Riri and maybe even Shuri? We would love to see it!

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