Warning: this article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
There’s an interesting fan theory that might explain a little bit about Jamie Foxx’s Electro in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Even if you haven’t seen the film yet, it should be common knowledge by now from trailers that the plot of the film centers around a botched spell by Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange to make the world forget Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is Spider-Man, which brings a myriad of villains to his universe, including Electro. Don’t cast that spell: from here on out, the article will contain spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The spell was interrupted by Peter when he insisted on adding qualifiers to its parameters such that his girlfriend and close friends and family would still remember his real identity. Unfortunately, this inadvertently causes villains who know of Spider-Man’s real identity from other universes to come into Holland’s world.
At face value, there seems to be a minor plot hole with this element of the film. It was previously established that Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard, and Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman all knew of Spider-Man’s real identity as had been established in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man. But when it comes to Foxx’s Electro, there was no scene to establish he had discovered Spider-Man’s real identity in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
However, a seemingly innocuous line in Spider-Man: No Way Home might actually serve as an explanation for why Electro knew Spider-Man’s identity in his native Andrew Garfield-Spidey universe.
Generally speaking, each of the villains in No Way Home gets transported to the Holland universe in the moments before they are killed. For Electro, that scene was when he is supercharged with electricity by Spider-Man at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Here’s the line Foxx utters, recalling the moment.
“I was stuck in the grid, absorbing data, I was about to turn into pure energy and then… and then uh… and then- oh shit, I was about to die,” he says.
As Reddit user u/Ed_Derick pointed out on the r/FanTheories subreddit, this reference to “absorbing data” was likely no accident.
“[I] believe that since Electro was connected to the power grid of the entire town, he might have been able to tap into the internet, or some stored data somewhere that allowed him to know who Spider-[M]an is. He might have been absorbing data from every device connected to the internet or connected to all devices plugged in,” the user wrote.
The user went on to explain that even if the villain was jacked into the internet for just a millisecond or so, that still could’ve been enough time to perhaps connect to Peter’s webcam and see his web-shooters laying in his room while also taking note of the computer username to which the webcam was connected. That may sound like a stretch, but for a being who was on the cusp of becoming “pure energy,” it seems plausible in the fantastical world that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Electro would also possess the super-human computational abilities to actually digest that brief glimmer of information so quickly.
The box office smash that is Spider-Man: No Way Home has set the high water mark for pandemic-era movie releases in addition to being the eighth highest-grossing movie of all time, as of press time.