How Spider-Man Producers Convinced Past Series Stars to Return For No Way Home

Warning: this story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home, now playing in theaters. They're back! Three generations of Spider-Man movies meet in Spider-Man: No Way Home, where the Peter Parker (Tom Holland) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe battles multiversal villains from the "Raimi-verse" and the "Webb-verse." Unmasked by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Far From Home, Peter asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make the entire world forget his secret identity. But the spell is botched, bringing sinister supervillains from other universes who know Peter Parker is Spider-Man into the MCU — including Green Goblin (Spider-Man's Willem Dafoe), Doctor Octopus (Spider-Man 2's Alfred Molina), and the Lizard (The Amazing Spider-Man's Rhys Ifans). 

When it looks like Spider-Man can't defeat these sinister supervillains left with no way home, he gets help from other multiversal trespassers pulled into his reality: "Peter #2" (Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire) and "Peter #3" (The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield). 

But bringing together three generations of Spider-Men, along with past foes Sandman (Spider-Man 3's Thomas Haden Church) and Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Jamie Foxx), took more effort than the hand waving of a mystical spell.

"Getting everybody to agree with you about the cool, big idea [was the biggest challenge making No Way Home]," Spider-Man producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told The New York Times. "'Hey, we have an idea. Will you come sign up and be in this movie?' 'Cool! Can I read the script?' 'No.' That was the hardest part. And that's where Amy [Pascal], who calls anyone anywhere at any time, is a master producer at making things happen." 

Pascal, a top Sony executive during the making of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and Marc Webb's two Amazing Spider-Man films, is now a Sony's Spider-Man Universe producer whose credits include the rebooted web-slinger's trilogy set in the MCU. According to Pascal, her pitch to potentially skeptical actors meant easing their minds about returning for key roles — not "cash-grab cameos."

"The parts were real," she said. "That I was there with them the first time and would be again, that I have too much respect for them and all the work we did together over the years."

Asked to name the last No Way Home star to sign on, Feige said, "Not who you think. It's not worth talking about, but not who you think."  

Though their respective love interests are mentioned, Peter #2's Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter #3's Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) do not appear in No Way Home. Explaining their absence to the Times, Feige said paying service to the story — with a focus on Holland's Peter #1 — is "the reason there's not another 20 people in the movie." 

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Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing exclusively in theaters.