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Why We Didn't See These Characters In Spider-Man: No Way Home

After months and months of anticipation, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" has finally arrived in theaters, and it's brought with it a staggering ensemble of characters from the MCU and beyond. The film was the subject of countless rumors and casting speculations during the lead-up to its release, with all kinds of names being tossed around as possible cameos or costars to Tom Holland, Zendaya, and the rest of the crew. Now that the movie is out, fans have gotten to see which of those rumors were true and which fell flat. Be warned: there will be major, major spoilers ahead.

In "No Way Home," Holland's Peter Parker falls down a rabbit hole of desperation after his secret identity is leaked to the public. After he and his friends see their college applications denied because of the ensuing controversy, Peter goes to Doctor Strange to try to solve the problem with magic. Unfortunately, the spell goes wrong, and various characters who know Spider-Man's identity in alternate universes start to appear in New York City. That includes villains like Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), and Electro (Jamie Foxx), as well as Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's versions of Spider-Man. It's a hodgepodge cast literally decades in the making, yielding an incredibly exciting movie that's quickly become one of the best-reviewed in the entire MCU.

Despite all the characters who do show up in "No Way Home," there are still a number of missed opportunities, notable exclusions, and rumors that ultimately proved untrue. Obviously, there's only so much time and space in a movie, so Sony and Marvel had to be selective in choosing which characters to feature. Here are some of the characters who didn't wind up in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and why they weren't included.

Bruce Banner

There aren't that many major MCU characters who would make sense in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Iron Man is dead, Captain America is retired, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy are in space, etc. But one character who could have made a lot of sense in the movie is Bruce Banner. Though he hasn't been seen in the MCU since "Avengers: Endgame," the Hulk is theoretically still hanging around and would certainly still be one of the leading minds in the world on quantum theory and multiverse science (it's an emerging field). Bringing him in could have helped fix the schism created by Doctor Strange's spell, but Banner doesn't end up making an appearance.

As fun as it would have been to see the Hulk again, there are a number of reasons why he wouldn't make sense in "No Way Home." First of all, within the context of the story itself, he wouldn't know what was going on. Strange spends most of the movie trapped in the mirror dimension, he already has a magical solution to the problem, and Peter doesn't ask anyone but his friends for help. It's also possible that Mark Ruffalo's schedule wouldn't have allowed for an appearance, but the most likely reason is simply that the film's writers didn't want to overcrowd it with past MCU stars. Fortunately for fans of the character, Bannier is set to return to "She-Hulk" on Disney+.

Daredevil

One of the smaller surprise cameos in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" comes from Charlie Cox's Daredevil (Matt Murdock) from the Netflix Marvel series of the same name. Murdock appears in just one short scene to give some legal aid to Peter and his friends and family, but Cox's portrayal of the character in that short amount of time is spot-on to the show. Sadly, Murdock never returns to the screen, meaning that his superhero alter-ego doesn't get a chance to join the action.

While it would have been fun to see Daredevil suited back up in the MCU, there are a few possible reasons why it didn't happen. One explanation is that Cox only wanted to come back for a brief cameo rather than a much larger and action-heavy supporting role. Or, it's possible that there are still some legal complications between Netflix and Disney. The screen rights to the Daredevil character reverted to Disney in 2020, but that doesn't necessarily mean the MCU can use more specific details from the Netflix series. That could include the show's Daredevil suit design, for instance. There's nothing stopping Disney from casting the same actor as the same character now that the rights have reverted, but a proper appearance from Netflix's "Daredevil" may have been a bit trickier. Hopefully, this isn't the last we see of Cox's Matt Murdock.

Gwen Stacy

The core crux of "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is that the bad guys from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield movies -– all characters who were just as much victims as villains –- get a second chance. Almost all of them died in their respective movies, but by curing their conditions before sending them back home, Tom Holland's Spider-Man ends up saving their lives. It stands to reason, then, that other characters from the previous "Spider-Man" film franchises who died can come back in "No Way Home." That includes Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy, who dies at the end of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."

There are many possible reasons why Gwen wasn't brought back, including Stone not being able or willing to return to the role. Also, from a strictly narrative angle, it would probably have been too much. Garfield's Peter Parker gets a beautiful moment in "No Way Home," where he saves MJ from the same kind of fall that killed Gwen, giving him a bit of peace and closure. While it obviously would have been lovely to see him reunited with Gwen, it may have shifted the balance of Garfield and Maguire's roles a bit too heavily in Garfield's direction, when the story is really still about Holland's Spider-Man. Resurrecting Gwen would have also gone against the very message Garfield's Peter shares to Holland's in the film, so the story is probably better off as it stands.

Mary Jane Watson

Similar to Gwen, Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson could have made a lot of sense in "No Way Home." Doctor Strange's spell only summoned people who knew that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, and MJ -– like Gwen -– was certainly well aware of that fact. The two get back together at the end of "Spider-Man 3," and Maguire's character has a few vague lines in "No Way Home" that suggest they're still together.

Getting Dunst back and seeing her interact with Zendaya's MJ would have been fun, but it likely didn't happen for similar reasons as Gwen. Too many characters would have filled up too much of the film's third act, distracting too much from the core arc of Tom Holland's Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield exist in the film primarily to offer advice and assistance to Holland, and bringing in any of their friends, family, lovers, or allies could have made the ending of the movie even more chaotic than it already is. Still, it's nice to at least get a nod to Dunst's MJ and hear that she and Peter worked themselves out and seem to be happy in the Maguire "Spider-Man" universe.

James Franco's Harry Osborn

Another key character from the Sam Raimi "Spider-Man" movies who doesn't appear in "No Way Home" is James Franco's Harry Osborn, who becomes the Green Goblin in "Spider-Man 3." Harry knew that his friend Peter was Spider-Man, and while he does die by the end of the Raimi trilogy, he could have easily been brought through by the same logic that let Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, and Sandman return. The multiverse crack created by Doctor Strange's spell seems to have targeted the worlds of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's "Spider-Man" movies first, but Harry isn't one of the characters to get pulled through before the spell is undone.

Technically, that can be explained by just saying that the people summoned were random and that Harry simply wasn't one of them. It would have been powerful to see him reunited with his cured father and his former best friend, but there are several possible explanations for why he doesn't show up. The writers may have simply wanted one and only one villain from each prior film. Franco's schedule may not have allowed for a cameo. Or, it's possible that Disney didn't want to bring him in due to the numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him. Whatever the reason, Harry's character gets enough recognition in "No Way Home," and the film doesn't really suffer from his absence.

Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn

Of course, there are two different versions of Harry Osborn who could have been brought through the multiverse in "No Way Home," the other one being the Harry played by Dane DeHaan in "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." In the latter of those films, Harry genetically alters himself to avoid death by a gruesome illness –- one that he believes Spider-Man's blood can save him from. Peter refuses to give Harry his blood as he fears the unexpected side-effects it could cause, pushing Harry down a dark path that ends with him becoming the Green Goblin. He kills Gwen in the climax of the movie, but he survives and is imprisoned for his crimes.

Out of all the past "Spider-Man" movie characters excluded from "No Way Home," DeHaan's Harry Osborn is one of the easiest cuts to understand. Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin plays the villain quite well, and it would be too confusing to have two of the same character in the film (well, other than Spider-Man, of course). Plus, a plotline featuring DeHaan's character would have made the film too much of a sequel to "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," as it would have forced Andrew Garfield's Peter to reconcile with his love's killer all over again. All in all, DeHaan's Green Goblin seems like another smart cut.

Scorpion

One rumored "No Way Home" character who didn't end up in the film is Scorpion, a classic "Spider-Man" villain from the comics who's been teased in previous MCU films. Specifically, "Spider-Man: Homecoming" features Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) — the character who becomes Scorpion in the comics — in a minor role. It's implied that Gargan wants to use the same alien technology that Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) used to build his Vulture suit to enact vengeance on Spider-Man. That tease and the leak of a "No Way Home" LEGO set featuring a Scorpion-esque creature led some fans to believe that the comic book villain would appear in the film.

Ultimately, that theory didn't pan out. Gargan doesn't appear in the film in any way, be it as a normal criminal or as the supervillain many believed he would become. Scorpion's exclusion was probably just in the interest of focusing on the other characters. "No Way Home" spends a lot of time revisiting old villains from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield "Spider-Man" franchises and spending precious screen time introducing a new villain with no ties to any of that just wouldn't have made sense. He wouldn't have fit with the other "No Way Home" villains, and the movie has way too much to cover in its earlier moments to bother with a minor villain plotline that doesn't tie into the overall plot. It's possible that Scorpion could still appear in the MCU down the line, but at this point, that seems unlikely.

Talos

Near the beginning of "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Peter is arrested and interrogated by federal agents for his role in Mysterio's activities in London and his general vigilantism. Peter protests that he was working with Nick Fury at the time, only to be informed that Fury was off-planet. Clearly, this is a reference to the fact that the Nick Fury seen in "Spider-Man: Far from Home" is actually a Skrull named Talos, who Fury asked to impersonate him on Earth while he took a vacation in space. However, even the Skrull version of Fury is nowhere to be found when Peter needs him.

It seems a bit negligent that Talos wouldn't show up in his Fury disguise to help Peter out of his jam. After all, Talos is the one who pressured him into resuming his Spider-Man duties in Europe in the first place. Ultimately, it was probably just one character too many to fit into a movie already packed full of them, and it's more fun that Matt Murdock is the one to help Peter out of his legal troubles. Fans of the Skrulls will hopefully see Talos return when "Secret Invasion" hits Disney+.

Soren

Talos wasn't alone when he conscripted Peter into the Mysterio situation. Another Skrull, Soren, impersonated Maria Hill in "Far from Home," and she also is nowhere to be seen in "No Way Home." Because she and Talos are partners, it wouldn't necessarily make sense for one of them to appear without the other, so her reasons for being excluded would be the same as his. Still, it's a little odd that neither of them even attempt to help Peter out.

In fairness, not much has been revealed about the overall role of the Skrulls in the MCU story. Their plotline is picked back up at the very end of "WandaVision," but they likely won't take center stage until "Secret Invasion," which looks to be the next full-scale MCU crossover event. Overall, it's probably best for pacing that the Skrulls are abandoned in "No Way Home," but their absence still feels a little odd.

Sally Field's Aunt May

If Doctor Strange's spell truly could have brought through anyone who knew Spider-Man's secret identity, and if the first wave of characters summoned were indeed all from either Tobey Maguire's universe or Andrew Garfield's, it would have made sense for Sally Field's Aunt May to make an appearance. Given that the big emotional turn of "No Way Home" is the tragic death of Marisa Tomei's Aunt May, a cameo from Field would have created some interesting possibilities. However, there are a few reasons why it probably wouldn't have been a good idea overall.

For starters, at 75, a Hollywood legend like Field may well have no interest in doing a small cameo in an MCU movie. Field hasn't appeared in a movie since 2017, though she has continued to act in various television series. Secondly, bringing another Aunt May into the story of "No Way Home" could have ended up backfiring and hindering the emotional impact of Tomei's character's death.

Rosemary Harris' Aunt May

The reasons Rosemary Harris' Aunt May doesn't appear in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" are likely the same as those for Sally Field. At 94, the longtime star of stage and screen is still doing great work, appearing in the TV series "The Undoing" as recently as 2020. Still, bringing her back for a cameo in the MCU probably wouldn't have been right for her or the story.

Showing different versions of Aunt May in a story that hinges so heavily on the death of Marisa Tomei's character would be an incredibly difficult task to pull off. Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire's Peter Parkers work beautifully with Holland's story because they help him accept his mistakes and resolve to do better. If either of their Aunt Mays were to appear as well, it would have likely diluted the message while also splitting attention during the film's third act. It might have been interesting to see a version of Uncle Ben return from either Maguire or Garfield's universes, but Cliff Robertson — who played the character in the Raimi trilogy — died in 2011, and neither his Uncle Ben nor the Martin Sheen version of the character ever truly learned that their nephew was Spider-Man.

Tom Hardy's Venom

In the post-credits scene of "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," Venom and Eddie are transported to the MCU through mysterious circumstances. That led many fans to assume that Venom would be one of the villains in "No Way Home," rounding out a true Sinister Six team. Unfortunately for those hoping to see Tom Hardy join the action, he doesn't actually appear in "No Way Home." That is, until the film's mid-credits scene, which reveals that Eddie and Venom were in fact summoned by Doctor Strange's spell, but they just spent the whole time drinking in a bar.

It's a hilarious twist, but it's still a bit disappointing that Venom himself doesn't actually show up. His voice is heard, but Eddie doesn't turn into the symbiote on screen, and he certainly doesn't take part in any of the film's action scenes. It would have been exciting to see Tom Hardy's venom go up against Tom Holland's Spider-Man, but it also makes sense why that didn't happen. The five main villains of the movie all have ties to the previous "Spider-Man" films, which is essential for the movie to tell its story of healing and forgiveness. Hardy's Venom wouldn't have been known by any of the three Spider-Men, making him an awkward fit. However, with a little bit of the symbiote left behind in the MCU before Venom gets sucked back to his universe, there's still potential for a Holland Spidey and Venom duel somewhere down the line.

Topher Grace's Venom

While on the topic of Venom, Topher Grace's Eddie Brock is another past "Spider-Man" character who has every contextual reason to be summoned by Doctor Strange's spell, but isn't. Brock knows Spider-Man's secret identity in "Spider-Man 3," which means that random chance is the only sufficient canonical explanation for why he doesn't show up. Of course, outside the context of the story itself, there are plenty of reasons why Grace's Venom wouldn't have been a great pick.

For starters, Sony has finally created a version of Venom that lots of people actually like. Because of how widely panned Grace's version of the character was, it might not have been a great move for the studio to dilute and confuse their current franchise with a return from the old Eddie Brock. Also, as previously mentioned, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" intentionally pulls one villain from each of Tobey Maguire's and Andrew Garfield's films, and Sandman may have simply been the more interesting choice for narrative reasons.

Miles Morales

This last character isn't necessarily one anybody expected to show up in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," but that doesn't mean he wouldn't have been incredibly fun to see. Miles Morales is a hugely popular character, and while he's currently starring as the protagonist of Sony's animated "Spider-Verse" franchise, that doesn't preclude him from appearing in live-action films at the same time. With so many multiverse shenanigans happening, Miles could easily have made an appearance, and Electro even references him at the end of the movie, albeit not by name.

The most obvious reason why Miles isn't in "No Way Home" is that the spell Doctor Strange casts is specifically about Peter Parker, not Spider-Man in general. As such, it wouldn't have any explicit reason to summon Miles. Also, if the MCU were to introduce Miles Morales' Spider-Man, it would be better to do so in a more focused way — not a movie already loaded full with character reveals. Will Miles ever join the MCU? Only time will tell. For now, fans can still enjoy his adventures in the spectacular "Spider-Verse" films.