In the intricate web of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the trajectory of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man took a rather unexpected turn, and it was a journey originally intended to traverse two Multiverse movies. However, the evolving landscape of real-world events, particularly the global pandemic, brought forth a series of changes that disrupted Marvel Studios’ original plans.
The turning point in this narrative was “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” a film that not only united multiple iterations of Spider-Man on the big screen but also laid the foundation for the MCU’s new saga: the Multiverse. In this epic crossover, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man played a central role, and it was meant to be the first of his appearances in Phase 4. Yet, this wasn’t the entirety of the original plan.
Marvel Studios had more intricate threads to weave in the intricate fabric of the Multiverse. According to Graham Churchyard, an experienced costume designer in the MCU, Tom Holland was initially slated to make a “very brief cameo appearance” in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” This tantalizing tidbit of information has since been unearthed from an interview with LRM Online.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” was intended to be released after “Multiverse of Madness.” However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered the scheduling and release order of these films. Doctor Strange, sporting a new costume and introducing the character America Chavez, was initially intended to be part of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Conversely, Spider-Man was supposed to make a cameo in “Multiverse of Madness.” But, as we all know, the pandemic disrupted these plans, necessitating a reshuffling of release dates.
Ultimately, “No Way Home” hit theaters in December 2021, while “Doctor Strange 2” debuted in May 2022. Both films had undergone substantial story alterations to accommodate the revised release order, leading to the omission of Tom Holland’s cameo in “Doctor Strange 2.” This change left “No Way Home” as Holland’s sole participation in the Multiverse Saga so far.
However, this doesn’t mark the end of the road for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Fans can still look forward to his return in “Spider-Man 4.” Despite the disappointment of knowing that Phase 4 originally had more of the web-slinger in store, some intriguing concept art from “Spider-Man: No Way Home” hints at the rationale behind Marvel’s decision to remove Holland’s cameo.
For instance, one piece of concept art portrays Peter Parker in a conversation with a seemingly bedridden Stephen Strange in his Sanctum bedroom, a location from “Doctor Strange 2.” The use of this shared setting suggests the original order of events in the Multiverse, which was subsequently disrupted.
The most revealing concept art features America Chavez, holding a mysterious book during a Multiversal event. This imagery ties in with concepts of Chavez at the final battle in “Spider-Man 3,” which was set at the Statue of Liberty.
The decision to remove Spider-Man from “Doctor Strange 2” appears to have been associated with the character America Chavez. Since audiences had not yet been introduced to her at the time, it was deemed prudent to avoid introducing Spider-Man into the mix.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to dispute that the grand narrative of the Multiverse, intertwined with the larger MCU, would have benefited from Spider-Man’s presence. Given the significance of the Multiverse in both “Doctor Strange 2” and “No Way Home,” it seemed natural for Spidey to have some role to play. Alas, what audiences received instead was a reference to “an incident with Spider-Man” and a host of unanswered questions about his powers.
In retrospect, one can’t help but wonder how Spider-Man’s role in “Multiverse of Madness” might have reshaped his interactions with Doctor Strange in “No Way Home.” Would Peter have been already aware of the Multiverse, and would the Sanctum’s spell have gone awry as it did? These are questions that may remain unanswered for now, leaving fans to ponder the untold possibilities that existed but were never fully realized.
In the grand tapestry of the MCU, every thread, no matter how small, has the potential to weave a fascinating narrative. The tale of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, though altered by real-world events, has still left a profound impact on the MCU, showcasing the intricate dance between creative vision and the unpredictability of external factors.