We will be talking about significant spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home. The movie has only been out two weeks, so we're going to keep trying to hide the spoilers the best we can. If you haven't seen the movie yet, consider this your spoiler warning not to go beyond the following image.
Before we even got to the final act reveal of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, there were already a lot of villains running around Spider-Man: No Way Home. Five, to be exact, one from each Spider-Man movie that has come out so far. That is a pretty packed cast plus the other two Peter's, MJ, Ned, May, Happy, and Strange. It was quite a juggling act that Sony and Marvel could make it work on any level, but that was mostly because they focused on three of the five villains and left two of them kind of falling by the wayside. It sounds like there were going to be even more people involved in the movie than we got. In an interview with Variety, screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna said they went with a "kitchen sink" approach when it came to the script.
"Let's write the script that is the kitchen sink and we'll just act like we were going to get everything we wish for," says McKenna. "And like Peter's wish, it became a nightmare, and it required very, very talented people to help us not die at the end."
And when they say the kitchen sink, they meant it. Characters like Kirsten Dunst's Mary-Jane, Emma Stone's Gwen Stacey, and Sally Field's Aunt May were all legacy characters that didn't make it in, but they don't give details on how they might have fit into a different version of the script for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
"We went down different roads with different characters that just didn't fit," says McKenna. "We can't get into the details of that because it might be the kind of thing where they'll find a way to explore those ideas. So I'd hate to spoil anything, because I think we had a lot of fun."
At the end of the day, the duo admits that it was too much to handle, which it would have been. As previously stated, in Spider-Man: No Way Home, characters like Sandman and Lizard feel like they are secondary compared to the other three. Any more characters, and it would have been too much, and they seem to realize that.
"The first draft, we bit off more than we could chew," says Sommers. "Maybe some would argue that we still bit off more than we can chew."
It was the right decision to keep the other characters out of the picture. It also led to the small number of details that Maguire and Garfield could interject into the story without taking the focus away from Holland. We know that Tobey Peter and MJ have found a way to make it work; we know that Garfield Peter is still struggling after Gwen's death and leads to that great scene where he saves this universe's MJ. Spider-Man: No Way Home already had a lot going on, and any more characters aside from the villains and the two Peter's would have felt like fanservice and not something that had to be there for the sake of the story. It was a fine line that they were walking, and they stayed on the right side.
Summary: For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero is unmasked and no longer able to separate his normal life from the high-stakes of being a Super Hero. When he asks for help from Doctor Strange, the stakes become even more dangerous, forcing him to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: No Way Home, directed by Jon Watts, stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau with Marisa Tomei. It was released on December 17, 2021.