"In this universe, no one really dies." That's what Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts told Alfred Molina about the return of Doctor Octopus, who died by self-sacrifice at the end of 2004's Spider-Man 2. Or so it seemed: the eight-limbed mad scientist did not "die a monster" moments after battling his friend and protégé Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) on the East River. In a new interview with Variety, Molina reveals No Way Home, the concluding chapter in Watts' Marvel Cinematic Universe-set Spider-Man trilogy, will pick up Doc Ock's story from "that moment" in the river that ended the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man 2.
When Molina pointed out to Watts that his character died by drowning in the 2004 film, Watts replied, "In this universe, no one really dies." It was during early conversations about Doc Ock's return in the then-untitled Spider-Man 3 that Watts revealed the new movie continues Molina's story from "that moment" in the river, where a lifeless-looking Otto Octavius drowns alongside his city-threatening fusion power project.
No Way Home was suspected to be a Multiverse movie after the reported returns of Molina's Doctor Octopus and Jamie Foxx's electrifying Electro, who also appeared to die in battle against the Spider-Man of his world (Andrew Garfield) in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Neither Sony Pictures nor Marvel Studios have commented on the rumored return of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, another Raimi-Verse villain killed-in-action in 2002's Spider-Man.
As the Peter Parker (Tom Holland) of the MCU wrestles with the aftermath of having his secret identity exposed to the world by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) and J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, reprising a role he first played in Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy), the friendly neighborhood Avenger is expected to somehow cross paths with former Spider-Men played by Maguire and Garfield.
In the mentor character role filled by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming and by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home is Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who reunites with Holland's Spider-Man ahead of his return opposite the Scarlet Witch (WandaVision's Elizabeth Olsen) in Raimi's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige was the first to reveal TV's WandaVision and feature films Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would form a loose trilogy in the MCU's ongoing Phase 4.
Feige also revealed the concept of the Multiverse would be a recurring theme "before and after" the Doctor Strange sequel, saying in a January interview: "The title of the next Doctor Strange movie is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so that is our biggest clue that that movie will embrace the Multiverse and the madness therein, very directly. There are, as we always like to do, connections before and after that, which will remain to be seen and discovered. But it seemed appropriate that it would be Doctor Strange that takes that on in the most direct way."
Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, and Benedict Cumberbatch, Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters on December 17.