Spider-Man: No Way Home swung its way into theaters last weekend, leaving a take on the Marvel universe that fans genuinely had to see to believe. Even before it was released, one of the most surprising elements of the blockbuster film was the return of villains from previous Spider-Man movies, including Willem Dafoe's take on Norman Osborn / Green Goblin from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. There's a lot about Dafoe's take on Goblin that fans have been buzzing about — including a clever reference to one of his now-memed lines of dialogue from the original films. Spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home below! Only look if you want to know!
The film sees the previous Spider-Man villains being thrown into the reality of Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland), after a botched spell begins to bring in anyone who knows Spider-Man's true identity. After Peter and Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) capture five of the villains, Strange argues that the best way forward is to send them to their original universes, even if they'll be doomed to die fighting another version of Spider-Man when they get there. Peter disagrees with this philosophy, and decides instead to use science to cure the villains of whatever is making them evil. When Peter suggests the idea to the larger group, Osborn offers to help, remarking "You know, I'm something of a scientist myself."
This is a direct callback to Dafoe's first performance of the character in 2002's Spider-Man, when he said the same line to his universe's version of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). In the decades since that film originally debuted, the remark has become a pretty popular meme, both with its original text and with various edits replacing the word "scientist" with any other qualifier.
The line is one of the more light-hearted callbacks within No Way Home, especially where the shocking arc Norman has in the film is concerned. As the film's writers recently revealed, the balancing act between evoking the previous movies and telling a new story was an intriguing one.
"Very carefully," co-writer Eric Sommers recently told Discussing Film. "Because, I mean, you want to give everyone their due, and just as a fan, you want to see those people as those characters and have fun with them. But at the end of the day, it's a Spider-Man movie – you have to be telling the story of Peter Parker, and everything has to be in service of that. So there were a lot of painful decisions made, you know, we would have loved to have done this and that and 'Oh, wouldn't be great if these two villains could do this!' But it has to be in service of Peter's journey, and you have to keep things moving. There were definitely a lot of what we call 'little darlings' – little moments and things that you really just love – but sometimes you have to let them go."
"I mean, it's a balancing act because we love those previous movies, the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb ones, and we want to pay homage to them and make the fans happy," Sommers continues. "But you don't want to just do lazy fan service for its own sake because it'll ring false at some point. It's a balancing act and at every point, again, you have to be thinking about the story. So if you really want to hear this villain say the line that he said in that other movie, you can't let that drive you in terms of finding a moment for that. If you just go looking for that and you spend all this time, you're going to end up writing some scene that maybe doesn't even need to be in the movie. You just have to keep focused on telling Peter Parker's story, and then hope that you find opportunities for those moments in there. We were working with a lot of smart and talented people, and just poring over these moments again and again, crafting things and trying to find those moments where we could include that kind of stuff in a way that felt like it was organic. We weren't just doing it for its own sake."
What do you think of Spider-Man: No Way Home's callback to "I'm something of a scientist myself?" Share your thoughts with us in the comment below!
Spider-Man: No Way Home is currently in theaters.
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