[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”]
When Jon Watts’ third standalone Spider-Man film, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” concludes, the Tom Holland-starring mini-franchise has set a course for a brand-new start for the so-called Spider-Verse. Without getting too spoiler-y — which, yes, might be a bit silly when it comes to unpacking the literal last scenes of the film, which we will do below — the film ends with Peter Parker striking out on his own, after convincing Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast a spell to make everyone (everyone) forget who he is.
It’s all in an attempt to stitch a crumbling multiverse back together, after an earlier Strange spell (doc, come on) tested the limits of the multiverse, allowing a few baddies (and goodies!) to slip through, resulting in one hell of an adventure for Spider-Man and his best pals. So what happens after all that? The film includes two post-credits scenes (well, sort of) that both hinge on the effects and after-effects of Strange’s spell-casting, hinting at repercussions that go beyond just the Spider-Verse.
[One more time: Spoilers ahead for both “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and its post-credits scenes.]
1. Eddie and Venom Visit the MCU
When we last left Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his beloved Venom (also Tom Hardy, of course), the dynamic duo were chilling in a delightfully seedy hotel room somewhere in Latin America, having blown out of town after the events of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” As the two bicker about how everyone has a past (inspired by a telenovela viewing; again, of course), Venom offers to show Eddie a tiny glimpse of the alien symbiote’s copious knowledge. The timing could not be worse: Just as Eddie is coming back down to (mental) Earth, the scene shifts, and suddenly, the duo aren’t in a trashy hotel room, they’re tucked up inside a lavish luxury suite. The world, it appears, has changed, or maybe the universe has.
While Venom hastens to tell Eddie that their little mind-meld is not at all responsible for what has just happened — talk about incredibly bad timing — the television flicks from telenovela to a special edition of the “Daily Bugle” news program, complete with an EXCLUSIVE! shot of Tom Holland as our current-day Spider-Man, looking utterly baffled in the middle of Manhattan. It’s a shot that looks familiar to anyone who has seen “Far from Home,” and considering it’s where “No Way Home” opens, the implication is clear: Eddie and Venom have fallen into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures
That concept is only furthered by the first post-credits scene in “No Way Home,” which finds a very drunk Eddie and Venom kicking it at a local watering hole, clearly trying to work their way through just what the hell (or, more appropriately, where the hell) is happening. Turns out, when Doctor Strange’s spell pulled in a bunch of Spider-Man’s greatest foes from their own universes, it also pulled in Eddie and Venom. (Of note: in the film, Strange tells Peter that the spell works on people who know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, including all those baddies and other universe Spider-Men. It seems that Eddie and Venom slipped through because of Venom’s big ol’ brain. Somewhere in there, the alien symbiote is hip to what’s happening around the multiverse, even if it doesn’t involve him and Eddie.) While Peter and pals are off battling bad guys in Manhattan, Eddie and Venom have also been pulled into a strange universe.
They’ve reacted in the best way they know how: getting wasted. A friendly, if baffled bartender attends to them, and he appears to have caught them up on the broad strokes of life in the MCU. Like, you know, all that “snap” stuff, all the weird stuff about Thanos, all those other superheroes flying around.
Both Eddie and Venom are confused by what’s going on, though they seem amusingly stuck on one detail: Why would a big, bad alien want to play with rocks and wreck havoc on the universe? As far as they know, aliens love one thing: eating brains! Still, even in a drunken haze, Eddie cooks up an idea: He should go to New York City and “speak to this Spider-Man.” (Venom has other ideas, like going skinny dipping.) And yet before Eddie can make his way to Manhattan — hell, before he can make it off his barstool — it seems that Doctor Strange’s latest spell takes hold, snapping him and Venom back to their own universe.
And yet, they leave a little surprise behind: a generous dab of Venom’s dark, sticky alien matter. Eddie and Venom might not be bound for an MCU match-up with Peter and company, but it sure seems as if some part of the alien symbiote is bound to have a big impact on this already frazzled universe.
2. A Quick Hit of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”
Speaking of frazzled: While Doctor Strange’s spell clearly worked, it seems that the good doctor himself can’t shake the sense that something is very, very wrong. Presumably, “No Way Home” ends with Strange also “forgetting Peter Parker,” but the after-effects of what he’s done appear to have stuck with him, as the second post-credits scene opens with a very undone Doctor Strange.
But, a twist: This post-credits scene is not a scene at all, but a new trailer for Sam Raimi’s upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the second standalone Strange film, due out next May. The connection between “No Way Home” and “Multiverse of Madness” has long been chattered about, but the use of an entire trailer in place of the usual post-credits scene only strengthens that narrative bond.
And what a trailer, as we see Strange cycle through a whole range of emotions (most of them very bad indeed) as he dips in and out of a similarly fracturing Mirror Universe. The implication is clear: Whatever the hell Doctor Strange has done in “No Way Home” might have temporarily fixed the cracks between worlds, but it’s not going to hold for much longer. An addled Strange goes looking for a compatriot, and finds it in Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), hiding out in an idyllic spot after the events of the series “Wanda-Vision.” And though Wanda initially thinks Strange is there to admonish her — “I’ve made mistakes,” she tells the sorcerer — that’s not what he’s after. He needs help, the kind of cosmic-level help only a witch like Wanda could provide.
Soon, it’s obvious why, as the trailer cuts to a final banger: our very own Doctor Strange, facing off against a fresh nemesis, in the form of a decidedly evil-looking, other universe Doctor Strange. Uh oh.
A Sony Pictures release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is in theaters now.