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The Ending Of Spider-Man: No Way Home Explained

It's one of the most anticipated films of the year, and it's also one of the most secretive films of the year. So, let's assume that if you clicked on an article titled "The ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home explained," you are either prepared for the spoiler-heavy details to follow, or you are furiously back-arrowing your browser at this very moment.

Still here? Good, because everybody seems to be in agreement that the end of "No Way Home" is the strongest part of the film, and it's simply impossible to discuss all that awesomeness without an in-depth analysis of the guest stars, the references to other films, and the deaths, near-deaths and re-births in that final act.

So, as much as the efforts of Marvel to stop spoilers are admirable, let's assume we've all seen the blockbuster at this point. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (preferably in an iconic New York City cup that says "We are happy to serve you"), kick back in your dilapidated new apartment (where the rent is due on the first of the month — don't be late!) and read on for a breakdown of the film's final moments.

Just Like Starting Over

By the end of the film, Peter Parker might find himself quoting Admiral James Stockdale: "Who am I? Why am I here?" Moments earlier, countless other multiverse denizens were coming from universes far, far away (did you see the outline of Rhino?) to invade his reality, essentially everyone, anywhere who knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man; the only way Doctor Strange could reverse their earlier tampering with the multiverse was to cast a second spell — this time one where everybody, everywhere forgets that Peter Parker ever existed.

It's an agonizing decision, but one Pete accepts for the good of humanity. As Strange casts the spell, our hero has a few remaining moments to say goodbye — first to the other Spider-Men who helped out and became like brothers, then to the closest thing he has left to real family, Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya). Peter shares tender, tear-filled moments with MJ where she urges him to re-introduce himself after her mind has been wiped; Peter promises he will.

After the spell is cast, Peter walks the streets like a ghost. He is no longer bothered by strangers, no longer hunted by J. Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) — but he also no longer has anyone who loves him, looks in on him, or even knows he is alive. Of course, the temptation is too strong to not immediately go to the coffee shop where MJ works. There, Peter has a big speech prepared — but one he promptly abandons when he finds Ned and MJ celebrating their acceptance into MIT, the dream college that Spider-Man's drama previously had them excluded from. Speaking briefly with MJ, it's clear that the dup still have that same chemistry we recall from the other Spider-Man "Home" films — but this time, rather than leaning into it, Peter thinks it best if he keeps his distance. Nevertheless, that look on MJ's face when last we see her might indicate that there is some spark of recognition.

Now, Peter has a place of his own and a chance to start over. Spider-Man seems likely to once again be on the verge of putting the "neighborhood" back into "Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."

Whatever May Come

Drawing parallels to the Spider-Man incarnations who came before him, Tom Holland's Peter Parker is forced to wake up to the realities of criminal behavior. But this time, rather than an Uncle Ben, he loses an Aunt May (Marisa Tomei).

In the previous "Home" movies, Uncle Ben has never been mentioned, leaving it ambiguous whether Holland's Peter Parker suffered the go-to tragedy for Spider-Man's typical origin stories. Aside from a vague line in "Homecoming" saying he can't reveal his superhero identity to Aunt May "after everything that's happened to her," or a quick acknowledgement of Ben in the "What If...?" series, the character seems to have never existed in the MCU. This point is driven home in "No Way Home" when Peter meets two other Spider-Men (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) who both share their Uncle Ben stories, and he doesn't seem to find common ground with them.

Instead, his grief emanates from Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) murdering May. Her final words before we realize the severity of her injuries? "With great power, there must also come great responsibility." If you're a Spider-Man fan and you don't realize at that very moment that she's doomed, well, you're not much of a Spider-Man fan. Don't worry, Tomei has already gone on record saying her therapist is helping her work through what is apparently her departure from the series.

In the ensuing scenes, we see Holland's Peter Parker grappling with various stages of grief, even giving into his bloodthirsty impulses as he nearly beats Norman Osborn to death after spending much of the film trying to save his life. Eventually, the other two Spider-Men convince him to walk a gentler path (with Tobey Maguire Peter Parker even stopping him from impaling Goblin in a way evocative of his death in 2002's "Spider-Man"), and Goblin lives to go home.

But the one person neither redeemed nor resurrected is May, so after Doctor Strange casts his spell making everyone forget about Peter Parker, one of his first moves is to visit his aunt's gravestone. While there, he just happens to find himself standing alongside Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who is still distraught over the death of his girlfriend — but now, oblivious to not only Peter's identity as Spider-Man, but who Peter even is. The slate has been wiped clean — Tony Stark's mentorship, all that incredible technology, the safety net Happy seemed to provide whenever Peter found himself in trouble — it's all gone, and now Peter is back to square one as Spider-Man. Which, in essence, would seem to indicate it's time to go buy himself a new red hoodie.

Insert Pointing Meme Here

We've all seen it, we all love it, we've all texted it when two similar people meet. It's the famous "Spider-Man Pointing" meme, which originated from an episode of the '60s animated series where a villain dresses as Spider-Man, resulting in some corny confusion. The meme isn't explicitly referenced in "No Way Home," possibly because Marvel has learned its lesson about chasing memes, or possibly because 2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" already made the joke. But with three Spider-Men running around, it isn't for lack of opportunity.

Despite Andrew Garfield's insistence to the contrary, he (or a really convincing celebrity impersonator) is in the film, and so is Tobey Maguire, both playing Peter Parkers from the different universes where their film franchises took place. At the end of "No Way Home," when Pete and Doctor Strange finally figure out a way to send everyone home, this not only includes the villains but also those folks in red-and-blue pajamas.

So, after a teary goodbye, Holland Peter Parker sees Garfield Peter Parker and Maguire Peter Parker return to the realm of DVDs, Blu-Rays and "Best of" lists from their respective decades. Yeah, Maguire got stabbed, which initially seemed like some matter of concern — but apparently, he's going to go home, find himself a really big Band-Aid and have his MJ make him a nice big bowl of chicken soup. Hey, we're here to explain the ending, not nitpick its plausibility.

Post Credits Scene, Part One

After nearly 30 MCU films, if you're still leaving the theater when the end credits start, you're either a very slow learner or extremely intent on beating the other cars out of the parking lot. Sure enough, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" features a pair of very-cool post credits sequences.

The first piggybacks off "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," specifically that film's post credits scene which seemed to indicate an impending convergence of the "Venom" and "Spider-Man" franchises, as well as perhaps a larger connection between the MCU and Sony universes.

"You're saying this planet has tons of super people?" asks Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a few drinks deep and wearing a "Mexico" cap as he grills a bartender at his resort. Told there is a hero called "Hulk," he laughs and replies to the incessant, antagonizing voice in his head: "And you thought 'Lethal Protector' was a sh-t name?"

After learning about Thanos, and the bartender's tale of woe about "The Snap" making his family vanish for five years, Eddie becomes determined to connect with Peter Parker (who he knows — at least, in the moment — is Spider-Man since he saw J. Jonah Jameson's broadcast). "Maybe I should go to New York and speak to this Spider-Man," he says.

Unfortunately, MCU fans have just enough time to get excited about the possibility of Hardy's Venom and Holland's Spidey coming face to face before Eddie Brock and Venom are sucked back to their own universe when Doctor Strange's spell takes hold. Sorry, Marvel fans, it seems as though this meet up won't be happening anytime soon.

But wait! Eddie does leave behind a tiny glob of black goo on the bar. Undoubtedly, this remnant of Venom will soon find its own host, perhaps opening the door for some sort of dual Venom storyline. The scene seems to indicate that Tom Hardy/Venom will continue in his own films (and why not, both have been massively successful), while some sort of symbiote storyline could soon begin infecting the MCU.

Post Credits Scene, Part Two

Okay, if you stick around until the very end of all those names, you won't so much see an end credits "scene" so much as what is essentially a trailer for the May 2022 release "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." It seems unlikely this will disappoint you in any way, however, as the trailer looks amazing.

"Your desecration will not go unpunished," Strange is told, clearly facing the repercussions of the spell(s) he cast on behalf of his Spider friend.

In a series of quick images, we see Doctor Strange dealing with fractured narratives and competing realities — including a shot of Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) getting married. But perhaps the most drool-worthy moment comes when Strange journeys to some remote, tree-lined location to solicit help from Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson), last seen in "WandaVision" terrorizing the residents of a small town while grappling with her own dangerous, tenuous grip on reality.

"I knew sooner or later you'd show up," the Scarlet Witch says to Doctor Strange. "I made mistakes. People got hurt."

The Doctor replies: "I'm not here to talk about Westview."

After a few more glimpses of plot points that seem unsettling, to say the least, Doctor Strange is told "The greatest threat to our universes is you." Then an "evil" Strange can be glimpsed, delivering the ominous line: "Things just got out of hand."