How Marvel Kept Spider-Man Star Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin Return a Secret

Spider-Man: No Way Home unmasks the Green Goblin to reveal the face of Norman Osborn, but actor Willem Dafoe had to keep his identity hidden while making the secretive Sony and Marvel movie. Dafoe, who first played the Marvel villain opposite Tobey Maguire in 2002's Spider-Man, was kept under wraps until the film's second trailer confirmed the Green Goblin's return in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Initial trailers for the film only hinted at Dafoe's return, later showing the Goblin entering the MCU with past villains Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), Lizard (Rhys Ifans), and Electro (Jamie Foxx). 

"They did it beautifully. These Marvel movies have such a strong fan base. People are so curious about them. Even when they're being made, people are trying to figure out what's going on," Dafoe said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. "They decided they were going to keep some of the elements a secret." 

That includes the two Spider-Men played by Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who have since appeared in promotional materials but were kept entirely out of trailers and other marketing tools.

"When I'd go to set, they put me in a black cloak and always had me in a car with dark windows. And they didn't want me hanging out anyplace because they didn't want anyone to know I was in town making a movie. And I didn't think it would work, but actually, it did," Dafoe said. "Only just before the movie was released they started kind of hinting things in the trailers. So it was cool."  

RELATED STORY: How Sony-Marvel Producers Convinced Past Spider-Man Stars to Return For No Way Home

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When a spell cast by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make the world forget Peter Parker's secret identity backfires, unleashing the Multiverse, villains fated to die fighting Spider-Man form a sinister squad to remain in the MCU. Dafoe's Green Goblin discards his iconic armor from the 2002 movie and debuts a new look: a hooded version without a mask

Starring Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing exclusively in theaters. See when Spider-Man: No Way Home is available to own on digital