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Is all the Spider-Man: No Way Home rumors and speculation cover for its real comic book surprises?

Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer still
Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer still (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

On November 16, Sony finally unveiled the much-anticipated second trailer to December's Spider-Man: No Way Home.

While the live event did spark tons of online discussion and theorizing, it arguably did not feature the promised "big surprises," which many fans anticipated as confirmation of long-rumored (but unconfirmed) appearances by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Sony's previous Spider-Men as well as Charlie Cox reprising his Netflix role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil.

'Evidence' of 'leaks' from No Way Home including dubious set photos has dominated social media for months, suggesting that rumor sites and leakers one-upped Sony and Marvel Studios at their own game this time around.

But here's the thing, when it comes to information and especially disinformation about its productions, I'd always assume Marvel Studios is one step ahead of the field at all times, and that right now, the world knows what Marvel Studios wants it to know about its films, and is asking the questions it wants to be asked.

Marvel has made misdirection in marketing and maintaining actual surprises in its films an art form, and while some MCU followers steadfastly believe the internet beat Marvel at its own game this time, I wouldn't be at all shocked if the Maguire/Garfield/Cox rumors and speculation are its game, and the obsession the supposed 'leaks' have created over 'will they or won't they?' could be a purposeful sleight of hand and a strategic distraction to keep fans doubting their appearances and maybe even more importantly, the film's other surprises in check.

(Image credit: Sony/Marvel)

Marvel Studios knows the magnum opus final act of Avengers: Endgame is now the measuring stick all its bigger films will be measured against, and the comparisons are obvious, with Tom Holland's Peter Parker being menaced by villains from Sony's two other Spider-Man film series including Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx's Electro (among others), and maybe even Tom Hardy's Venom (although that isn't hinted at in the second trailer), which would logically require helping hands to defeat them all, hence the appearances of Maguire and Garfield. 

That's very Endgame-like in one respect, but unlike Endgame in another important way - we already see all that coming. Endgame's signature moment and a sequence that won't soon be forgotten by anybody who saw it in a crowded theater opening weekend in late April 2019 was the surprise roll call of returning heroes from every corner of the MCU for the final battle with Thanos. 

And with the Multiverse not only the centerpiece of No Way Home but also the central preoccupation of Marvel Studios in general in 2021, maybe the question we should be asking isn't will Maguire and Garfield appear, but who else might show up for a final fight?

This question is especially relevant now as the trailer suggests the walls between the MCU Earth and the Multiverse break down fully at the end. 

Keep in mind Sony has already established ties between its live-action films and 2018's hit animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And whatever arrangement Sony and Marvel Studios have worked out, by the looks of the Morbius trailers and the post-credits scene of Venom: Let There be Carnage, the lines between the Sony Spider-verse and the MCU are blurring in ways we can't fully anticipate. 

And all of this is a very long-winded way of saying it's entirely possible with the Multiverse in play and at its disposal, anyone from Marvel and Sony's vast catalog of Spider-characters could show up in an Endgame-like roll call finale. 

Who? We're digging deep into Marvel comic books to highlight some intriguing possibilities that might not be that well known to MCU followers, but would be greeted by gasps and applause from the Marvel Comics readers in the audience.

May "Mayday" Parker/Spider-Girl

Spider-Girl

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

A long-time fan-favorite character from a Marvel Comics alternate future, Spider-Girl, the teenage daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson-Parker makes a lot of sense given 2007's Spider-Man 3 was 15 years ago and Tobey Maguire is now 46 years old.

Marvel Studios loves its young female heroes, and Maguire showing up with a wall-crawling super-heroing daughter following in her father's footsteps would make for a memorable moment and automatically make for heartwarming, instant backstory to the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy.

Flash Thompson/Agent Venom

Agent Venom

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As part of Venom's comic book history, Peter Parker's one-time high school bully but long-time good friend Flash Thompson (who was a wounded war veteran) was paired with the Venom symbiote to become a superpowered government operative and even joined the Guardians of the Galaxy for a short spell. 

Tony Revolori's alternate take on Flash was a little underdeveloped but left off on a sympathetic note in the final moments of Far From Home as we learned his bullying bluster was due to a lack of attention from his well-to-do parents. 

A Multiversal Revolori/Flash as a heroic Agent Venom would be cool and give Revolori a spotlight moment the first two films haven't afforded him, or alternately if you like, actor Joe Manganiello (you know him as Deathstroke from the 2017's Justice League post-credit scene) was Tobey Maguire's Flash in his first feature film role and he'd make for an interesting meta-call back as Agent Venom that superhero movie and comic book fans would respond to. 

Ned/Hobgoblin

Hobgoblin

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

While surname-less movie-Ned owes more to the original Ultimate Marvel character Ganke Lee than his namesake, the longtime member of original Peter Parker's social circle Ned Leeds, his brief romance with Betty Brant in Far From Home is a call-back to Leeds, who also has a history as a sometimes villain the Hobgoblin, a sort of knockoff/homage to the Green Goblin. 

Ned's movie role (as played by Jacob Batalon) is famously more of a "the guy in the chair" helper and best friend to Peter, but Tom Holland has hinted the film is an emotional roller coaster for Spidey, and seeing a Multiversal Ned as a murderous Hobgoblin on the side of the villains would be a gut punch and a big surprise for fans.

Some fans are speculating a second Green Goblin character seen in the new trailer (see the screen capture above) that doesn't appear to be Willem Dafoe's helmeted Goblin is a Multiversal Ned.

Miles Morales

Miles Morales

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

This one is exceedingly obvious. While Sony might have to play fast and loose with showing his face as to not commit to a particular actor assuming it inevitably wants to bring Miles to live-action years down the road, Miles's presence in the core MCU was already established in Homecoming (played Donald Glover as his uncle Aaron Davis, who mentioned he has a nephew). 

Given his high profile in comic books, animated movies and TV shows, and games, a costumed Miles would be all that would be required to send moviegoers into a frenzy.

Spider-Woman

Spider-Woman

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

While not a part of the 'Spider-Verse' per se (her powers and origin are completely unrelated to Peter Parker), Jessica Drew would be recognizable to a good number of moviegoers given her old 1979 cartoon series has been available on Disney Plus for two-plus years and her profile in the popular New Avengers comic book revival of the '00s. 

Again, having an actor appear as Spider-Woman (only part of her face is covered in her well-known costume) could complicate Sony's long-term plans for the character, which right now is Jessica to make her animated debut in the Into the Spider-Verse sequel reportedly voiced by Insecure actor Issa Rae.

And on that note…

Black Cat

Black Cat

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

See above. Spider-Man's long-time sometimes love interest/sometimes adversary the Black Cat would be greeted with cheers, but it would require Sony putting a face to the character. 

Spider-Man 2099

Spider-Man 2099

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Miguel O'Hara is another longtime fan-favorite character from a different alternate future than the one Spider-Girl comes from, but he's got a costume that would be instantly recognizable to many fans with even a smattering of knowledge of the comic books. 

Plus he also appeared to mainstream moviegoers in a post-credits scene in Into the Spider-Verse voiced by Oscar Isaac, Marvel's new Moon Knight, and clear nod Sony has plans for the character.

And finally…

Ghost-Spider/Spider-Gwen

Ghost-Spider

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

As much Maguire and Garfield's return would be Spider-Man fan Nirvana, imagine if Ghost-Spider/Spider-Gwen swung into the fight, removed her mask and Emma Stone was under it?

A Multiversal version of Gwen Stacy, Marvel and Sony have been establishing the character everywhere they can with the exception of live-action over the last several years. 

Ghost-Spider has appeared in comic books, video games, and numerous animated projects including the Into the Spider-Verse theatrical film voiced by Hailee Steinfeld (the MCU's new Kate Bishop), the Marvel Rising animated series voiced by Dove Cameron, and she's one of Spider-Man's titular 'Amazing Friends' along with Miles Morales in the new Disney Junior animated series.  

The new trailer features a call-back to both Gwen Stacy's original comic book death in 1973's Amazing Spider-Man #121 and #122 and Stone's death in 2014's Amazing Spider-Man, with Zendaya's MJ seemingly falling to her possible while Peter tries desperately to save her, which some fans are taking as an indication Sony and Marvel have Gwen/Stone on its minds.

Check out the full comic book history of Ghost-Spider/Spider-Gwen and read up on how Miles Morales became a surprise cornerstone of the Marvel Universe.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.