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Why Doc Ock In Spider-Man: No Way Home Has Fans Scratching Their Heads

The new trailer for "Spider-Man: No Way Home" offers fans their best look yet at the return of Alfred Molina to the role of the classic Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus. The mad scientist (and his famous four metal arms) do battle with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) on an elevated highway, tossing cars and construction material as the young hero attempts to evade them. But just as he appears to get the better of his nemesis, it seems he's caught off-guard when he sees Peter Parker's face — acknowledging that the teenager before him doesn't look like the Peter he knows.

Peter, for his part, is surprised by something else about the good doctor. "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" Peter asks in the next sequence, one where Doctor Octopus appears to be held in a cell somewhere underground.

"Doctor Otto Octavius," the villain answers, because he sure didn't earn those Ph.D.s to be called "Mr. Octavius." But Peter Parker — the same guy who once said, "Oh, we're using our made up names" to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) — finds this hard to believe. He and his friends MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) very much don't buy the moniker Octavius gives them, and in retaliation, they hit the doctor with every supervillain's worst fear: teenagers laughing at them. "Wait, no, seriously, what's your actual name?" Peter asks.

Highly amusing as the exchange is, it has also left fans with a big question. Does this imply that the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't have its own Otto Octavius?

If Otto Octavius existed in the MCU, Peter should be familiar with him

The MCU Disney+ show "Loki" establishes the idea that every MCU timeline has a variant of every character, even though there may be some differences between them. As such, fans are wondering where the Dr. Octavius of the MCU is.

"So safe to say a 616 version of Otto does not exist in this universe. Otherwise, the name would be familiar (even if Peter does not personally know him)," said u/Wingardium-Levi0sa on Reddit, referring to the baseline Earth-616 universe from the comics. 

After all, in the Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" films' corner of the multiverse, Octavius is a major scientific figure working on a breakthrough in nuclear fusion, and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is honored to have a chance to meet him before the whole turning evil thing happens. If he's anywhere close to that level of prominence in this universe, wouldn't a trio of geeky students at the Midtown School of Science and Technology have at least heard his name before, instead of thinking it's a joke?

Others disagreed. "idk. This Peter's still in high school," wrote u/schreibeheimer. "I don't think it's out-of-line for him to be unfamiliar with even well-respected academics."

Other fans chimed in with other possibilities. For instance, it was suggested that the MCU's Octavius could be Olivia, the female version of the character voiced by Kathryn Hahn in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." But if that were the case, presumably the same last name wouldn't crack up Peter and his friends so much. "Or maybe that was the reason that Peter and gang were laughing, because there's already an Otto Octavius in the MCU, so they probably thought Raimi's Otto is a lunatic imposter," wrote u/Homedelivery27

Doc Ock's mysterious nature is in line with the rest of the movie

Of course, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" seems to be the most mysterious corner of the MCU yet, so there are countless other possibilities, as well. Like the MCU version of Peter Parker, Otto Octavius could very well simply be younger — perhaps even a college student, who has yet to make a name for himself. He could even be something akin to Alligator Loki, happily bobbing about in a Florida swamp with four mechanical arms lazily floating behind him.

The fun thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that any of these theories might or might not potentially come true at some point down the line. The idea of a radically different Otto (or Olivia) Octavius running around in the MCU main timeline is an intriguing one, especially if there are more movie plans for the character. After all, Alfred Molina is a wonderful actor, but he also debuted in the role in 2004, so a recast may be in the cards at some point in the coming years. 

It's not just Doc Ock, either. Since the MCU is now opening the door for so many classic Spider-Man villains — portrayed by their classic actors, no less — fans will no doubt have a field day debating whether the other villains exist in the MCU, and if so, in what capacity. Has this version of Peter never heard of the famous CEO Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe)? If not, he's in for a pretty rude introduction.

Presumably, audiences will find out all these things and more when "Spider-Man: No Way Home" premieres on December 17.