Spider-Man: No Way Home has a lot to offer viewers. Not only is it a delightful and emotional Spidey flick, but it also does a great job of finishing the Homecoming trilogy. Something completely unexpected, though, is how it essentially works as an origin story for Peter. While we’ve seen his journey until now, the film leaves Peter where we normally meet Spider-Man. It’s an interesting and inventive choice, so we’re here to break it down and what it means.
MCU Peter Was Bitten By a Radioactive Spider
We knew that as he’s Spider-Man this was basically a given. But we hear Peter specifically say it for the first time to MJ here. It was previously established when Ned joked about Peter being bitten by a spider in Homecoming, asking Peter if he could be bitten too. But until now that’s the only nod we’ve gotten to the classic comics origin. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter tells MJ that since he was bitten by that spider he’s only had one normal week: when MJ discovered he was Spider-Man. It’s a sweet moment that foreshadows the importance of his relationship with MJ and the unexpected origin story that we see Peter go on during this film.
“With Great Power There Must Also Come Great Responsibility”
The next key Spider-Man origin moment we get here is the death of Aunt May. In the comics—and, famously, the movies and cartoons—Peter is unable to save his Uncle Ben, sparking a journey of heroism. Here it’s Aunt May who dies. This is a really great choice that feels entirely earned and therefore incredibly heartbreaking. Aunt May convinces Peter to help the villains by finding cures for their uncontrollable powers. She’s inspired by Norman Osborn’s sincere and desperate request for Spider-Man’s help when he comes to F.E.A.S.T. Of course, in a darkly ironic moment, it’s the Green Goblin who kills May.
The Goblin hoped to break Peter and show him that compassion is weakness. But in her last moments, May explains that Peter was right to help them. Peter has a gift, a power, and a responsibility to help people. Because, as she states, “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” It’s such an iconic line and something really cool is that this is the actual line from the comic. While many people believe that Uncle Ben said the famed line, it originated in Amazing Fantasy #15 as a caption quote that read “with great power there must also come — great responsibility!” Having Aunt May be the first one to say it right feels both fitting and emotionally satisfying. R.I.P. May, we’ll miss you.
Does This Mean There’s No Uncle Ben in the MCU?
While this will likely be a divisive issue, we think that Peter never lost Uncle Ben in the MCU. There are a few hints at this. Not only does May die and deliver that big line, but the Spider-Mans both tell Peter about their Uncle Ben and compare it to him losing May. If MCU Peter also lost Uncle Ben, wouldn’t he have brought him up?
The most obvious clue that Uncle Ben doesn’t exist in this world is that Aunt May is buried alone. Not only does she not sit next to a Ben Parker, but her grave also doesn’t mention a love or husband. Though fans assumed Peter had an Uncle Ben because of him saying to Tony, “When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t and then the bad things happen they happen because of you.” in Captain America: Civil War, we think this film confirms that wasn’t the case. Instead, May’s death is his inspiration.
We End at the Beginning: Broke Spider-Man Going it Alone
As the movie ends, Peter sacrifices the life he knows to save the world. He is no longer an Avenger, has no friends, and no loved ones. While the world remembers Spider-Man, no one remembers Peter Parker. While it seems drastic, it fits in with the soft origin story that the film presents. We conclude the film with Peter alone, broke, and moving into a trashy apartment. He’s an anonymous hero with a homemade suit. By comic book standards, he’s at the beginning of his Spider-Man journey. It’s an incredibly smart way to reset a lot of the issues fans had with this Spidey. Peter as an immediate Avenger and outfitted with weapons from Tony Stark is a far cry from the street level hero fans love. But that’s where we leave Peter now. He’s only got himself to rely on, a tragic loss driving him, and that beautiful classic suit.
So a movie that many believed would be the end of Holland’s story in fact is in some ways the beginning. But with a world that doesn’t remember Peter Parker, what does that mean for our hero and for Holland? We’ll have to wait and see to find out.
Featured Image: Sony Pictures