Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home absolutely demolished the box office on its opening weekend bringing in a staggering $253 million as well as earning a 94% critic rating and a 99% audience score on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Not only is the film a runaway success many fans are already making plans for a second (and even third and fourth) trip to see it in order to get another look at the films’ lightning-paced action sequences as well as to keep an eye out for all the hidden in plain sight details that Marvel delights in including for its hardcore fans.
For those planning their second visit, or folks that just want the inside scoop, we’ve put together a field guide to all the hidden shoutouts, winks, and nods that can be found in the latest Sony/MCU Spider-Film.
Be forewarned that everything that follows is a spoiler for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
As Peter swings MJ away from the gathering crowds at the beginning of the movie, they exit the subway in front of “Delmar’s III”. The original deli was frequented by Peter and May (to whom Delmar often would semi-lasciviously refer) It was destroyed in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Peter, MJ, May, and Ned are all taken in by Federal agents for questioning. The agents in question ID themselves as working for the DODC. The DODC, aka Department of Damage Control, is a fictional agency that has appeared in Marvel Comics since the late ’80s and was featured in Spider-Man: Homecoming as well. It’s the agency that inspires The Vulture to his life of crime after they take over his salvage contract following the Chitauri invasion of New York in The Avengers. The DODC is dedicated to cleaning up the often vast messes left behind when superheroes and supervillains clash. It’s also been alluded to in the original MCU Iron Man.
Iron Man fans will also be familiar with the robot inside Happy Hogan’s apartment. Dum-E was one of the pair of robotic servo-arms used by Tony Stark in creating his many versions of the Iron Man armors in all three movies of that franchise. Homecoming fans may remember seeing him when Happy packed up his stuff in Avengers Tower as well.
Angourie Rice continues her role as the MCU’s Betty Brant. Betty started out as a reporter for the Midtown School of Science and Technology’s in-school video announcement program, Midtown News and, later accompanied Peter, Ned, and MJ on their class trip to Europe in Spider-Man: Far From Home. In No Way Home, it seems that she’s been “rewarded” for spilling the beans about Peter’s identity to J. Jonah Jameson with an internship (unpaid of course) at The Daily Bugle. In the Marvel comics series, Betty was Jameson’s secretary and Peter’s first serious girlfriend, predating both Gwen Stacy and MJ. She later marries reporter Ned Leeds and, following their divorce, becomes a successful investigative journalist herself. In the original franchise, she was portrayed by Elizabeth Banks.
Howard Stark and Dr. Erskine
In a “blink and you miss it” appearance of sorts, Tony Stark’s dad, Howard, can be spotted in a mural at Midtown School of Science and Technology. The elder Stark designed Captain America’s shield and was assassinated by a then mind-controlled Winter Soldier. Dr. Abraham Erskine, inventor of the Super Soldier Serum that gave Steve Rogers his powers, can also be spotted in the mural.
The word “Ditko” can be seen scrawled on the rooftop of Midtown. The Graffiti is later seen written on the side of a FEAST van. Steve Ditko was, of course, the co-creator of Spider-Man as well as Doctor Strange, J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson, Aunt May, and every one of the five villains featured in the movie. Ditko passed away in 2018.
LEGO Death Star
At one point, Dum-E, in characteristic fashion, mistakenly demolishes Peter’s LEGO Death Star. The popular LEGO set has featured in a Spider-Man film prior. In Homecoming, Peter and Ned plan to get together and build the daunting 4000-piece set (a task both actors Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon found themselves incapable of IRL). Unfortunately, Ned drops and destroys the model when he discovers that Peter is Spider-Man. So far, the LEGO Death Star has been destroyed on-screen as much as the Lucasfilm’s counterpart. A, the end of the film, one of Peter’s few remaining possessions is the Emperor Palpatine figure from the set.
As Peter seeks out Doctor Strange, a People Magazine appears at a newsstand. The cover features Liz Toomes, the daughter of The Vulture, and Peter’s crush in the first film. The cover text reads, “He’s a Liar.”
63 ASM 3
During the film’s sequence on the bridge that reintroduces Doctor Octopus, the MIT Vice-Chancellor’s car has the somewhat unlikely license plate number 63 ASM 3. As it so often does, this is the Marvel production team making a subtle reference to a classic issue of the comic series. Amazing Spider-Man no. 3, released in 1963, was the first appearance of Doc Ock. The car behind has a plate with the number 1228, a reference to Stan Lee’s birthday, December 28. (As you might recall, there was also a similar license plate shoutout that happened in a Hyundai commercial in advance of the movie’s release.)
FEAST, the charitable organization that May works for in Far From Home is likely a call out to the organization founded by Martin Li aka Mister Negative. Negative appears in the comics and is one of the main villains in Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man console game for the PS4. The name FEAST is an acronym that stands for Food, Emergency Aid, Shelter, and Training and is the name of a soup kitchen founded by Li where the comics version of Aunt May volunteers. Mister Negative has not appeared in the MCU…yet.
Electro’s New Look
As Amazing Spider-Man 2 fans may remember, the look of principal villain Electro was a vast departure from the traditional look of the character. The designers abandoned the bright yellow and green jumpsuit of the character and opted for a character that was the embodiment of electricity itself and was hued similarly to the brilliant blue of an electrical arc. The No Way Home team opted for a more practical approach (much to the relief of Jamie Foxx) with the character having a more realistic physical form. However, there are several times when the character discharges his power that a star-shaped corona manifests around Foxx’s face that suggests the original character’s goofy but much-beloved star-shaped face mask. The Green Goblin also got a comics-inspired makeover as well. The purple tattered hoodie the character wears is a shout-out to the Goblin’s purple and green garb from the original Steve Ditko design.
Tobey Maguire’s Bad Back
At one point prior to the film’s finale fight, Maguire and Garfield have an often hilarious commiseration sequence. While Garfield has low self-esteem issues — no doubt a nod to his franchise often taking the greater share of bad reviews — Maguire’s Spidey complains of the lower back issues brought about by a career of web-swinging. This is an almost certain nod to the actor’s own back issues which nearly sidelined him from making Spider-Man 2. Thankfully Maguire seems in more than good enough shape to carry on with his friendly neighborhood duties in No Way Home.
“I’m Something of a Scientist Myself”
What is there to be said? They did it. They actually had him say the line.
Although Watts restrained himself from replicating any of the many Spider-based memes we’ve all come to know and love (the fact that there was no Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man scene almost defies belief) he just couldn’t help but have Willem Defoe repeat his most familiar line. Well, no one can say he didn’t earn it.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is currently in theaters.