This ‘No Way Home’ fan theory explains the key to the whole movie and Peter’s future in the MCU
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home and its ending.
The inclusion of Doctor Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home assured a streamlined narrative in which all the villains from the different live-action Spidey universes got the opportunity to join in on the fun, but according to one fan theory that’s currently getting a lot of traction on Reddit, there’s more to the appearance of the Sorcerer Supreme than what we see on the surface.
One user has pointed out that what happened to Peter Parker in the Spidey threequel was inevitable ⏤ or, in terms of what Marvel’s What If…? taught us about the timeline, that the death of Aunt May was an “absolute point.” In other words, Stephen Strange could never hope to get the spell box back from Peter because doing so would prevent the events that led to her death, and the ramifications for such an alternation could be catastrophic for the future of the MCU.
There’s a moment in No Way Home where Strange and the webhead struggle over the spell box that’s supposed to send the villains back to their own universes. Peter wants to save their lives, while Strange believes that their death is a necessary evil. The sorcerer ends up knocking Spidey out of his physical body, but Peter somehow manages to retain control over it and keep the box away from Strange.
Now, most fans have attributed this to Peter’s tingle power, but according to this fan theory, the implications of this sequence are much more profound. In What If…?, Strange loses the love of his life in a car accident, but when he attempts to go back in time and save her, Christine Palmer always ends up dead. The Ancient One explains that Dr. Palmer’s death is an “absolute point” in time, without which Strange would never turn to the Mystic Arts and eventually defeat Dormammu, never mind assisting the Avengers in their fight against Thanos.
Following that train of thought, what if Aunt May’s death is also an irrevirsible “absolute point” that turns Spider-Man into the man he’s supposed to be? After all, in all the other universes, Peter has lost a loved one. Tobey’s version lost his Uncle Ben, while Andrew’s Gwen Stacy met an untimely end in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And perhaps that absolute point is what kept Strange from winning against Spidey despite all the tricks he’s got up his sleeve.
In a way, these deaths are ultimately what shape the Spider-Men across the multiverse, and according to this theory, Holland’s ordeal in Spider-Man: No Way Home is also something that needed to happen out of necessity, lest the friendly neighborhood webhead doesn’t grow up to be the hero that the MCU needs in its darkest hours in Phase Four and beyond.