Spider-Man 3: Will Doctor Strange Solve Peter Parker’s Secret Identity Crisis?

Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange will cast his spell on Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man 3, where the Master of the Mystic Arts could solve the identity crisis facing a fugitive Peter Parker (Tom Holland). In the mid-credits scene ending Spider-Man: Far From Home, Daily Bugle pundit J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) aired manipulated footage framing Spider-Man for the fraudulent murder of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), the high-tech hoaxer posing as a superhero from another dimension. The exposé, using footage doctored by scorned Stark Industries employee William Ginter Riva (Peter Billingsley), ended with a bombshell revelation from Mysterio: "Spider-Man's name is Peter Parker!"

Now on the run and labeled a murderer by Mysterio's manipulations, the wanted wall-crawler has few options. Most of the Avengers are officially retired or dead, including mentor Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and authority figures like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) are off-world. The super-spy involved himself with Parker in Far From Home, where Fury sent shape-shifting Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) to act as his surrogate.

Spider-Man first crossed paths with Strange in Avengers: Infinity War and his base, the New York Sanctum located on Bleecker Street, is just a web swing away. Whether Strange plays a Tony Stark-sized supporting role or appears only briefly in a cameo, as he did in Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man might suspect the sorcerer wields the ability to put his secret identity genie back in the bottle.

Strange performed such a feat in the Marvel comic books, where Stark swayed Spider-Man to unmask himself on national television during the Civil War storyline. When Peter came to regret his loss of privacy, which resulted in his beloved Aunt May almost being killed by an assassin's bullet, and later an attempt on the life of Mary Jane Watson, Peter turned to Strange for help.

After consulting with Stark and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, who share responsibility for Peter's predicament, Strange devised a plan to recover Spider-Man's anonymity. This "cosmic reset button," as Peter called it, was much more complicated: it would take the combined might of the three men to pull off this far-reaching "anamnesis storm."

To accomplish this, the triumvirate went on to fuse magic and radically unstable digigenetic viruses, creating their "anamnesis storm" with the ability to wipe all history — recorded, remembered, or otherwise — successfully erasing all memory of Peter's unmasking. While the event itself was not forgotten, no one could remember who was under Spider-Man's mask.

Amazing Spider-Man 640 Marvel
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

While such a mixture of magic and science is achievable in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there may be no undoing Spider-Man's now public identity. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, screenwriters behind Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame, previously told THR that Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige "sees the value in breaking the toys."

Feige is excited by a "big swing," said Markus, referencing the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the fracturing of the Avengers and their relationships in Civil War.

Referring to a five-year time jump in Endgame that was not reversed by film's end, Markus recalled Feige saying, "'Do it. We'll deal with it and it will just make it more interesting. Why would you undo it and go back to zero?'"

Added McFeely of big swings, "It's really important to own it."

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In 2019, Feige said Spider-Man 3 finds Peter "back in his element, out of the shadow of Tony, out of the shadow of the other Avengers, as his own man now, as his own hero." The untitled sequel is said to be Peter-focused and Peter-based.

Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man 3 opens in theaters on December 17, 2021.