Who knew that Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy for the MCU was one big origin story for the multi-billion dollar studio's version of Spider-Man? After fighting against a purple alien in space and helping save the universe more times than a teenager should, Tom Holland's Peter Parker finally got his "uncle Ben moment" following the sacrifice of Marisa Tomei's Aunt May so that he would learn firsthand how "great power comes with great responsibility."
By the time the credits roll on No Way Home, Peter gets a clean slate, but at the cost of getting more than what he bargained for. Going forward, no one remembers who Peter Parker is after Doctor Strange's final spell erases him from the collective consciousness of the MCU's universe. Although No Way Home's success at the global box office all but confirms that it's going to get a sequel eventually, literally being a nobody has paved the way for much speculation and theories about where Spider-Man could swing by next.
With that in mind, let's join the bandwagon and discuss some ideas about Spider-Man's cinematic journey going forward.
Who does the MCU want its Peter Parker to be?
First things first, let's talk about that ending. In order to save the universe from other villains who know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, Peter asks Doctor Strange to make everyone forget about his real-life persona. This effectively turns MCU's Spider-Man into the broke and lonely but still very friendly neighborhood Spider-Man that most comic book fans grew up with. But, therein lies the question, did the spell really work?
Well, we can't exactly say for sure until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres in May and even then, it's not sure that the Benedict Cumberbatch-led movie will even refer about Peter Parker at all.
The MCU twist to what Marvel Comics did when Spider-Man foolishly outed himself as Peter Parker in the comic books is bleaker and, in some ways, much better. In the comics, no one forgot about Peter Parker. Instead, all that Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, and Iron Man, did is to create a machine with magical and technological properties that could reverse Spider-Man's foolish move. This lays the foundation for a relatively unexplored ground where everyone remembers who Spider-Man is, but Peter Parker is left literally alone with no one else.
If we assume that everyone really forgot about Peter Parker, the MCU can now focus on building its own Spider-Man.
Throughout the first trilogy, Spider-Man and Peter Parker were widely considered (and criticized) as Iron Man-lite. After Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark took Parker under his wing following the events of 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man effectively skipped through his character-building arc where he had to suffer for years being alone in his crimefighting. He not only got a mentor in Iron Man, but the MCU's Spider-Man also got to be part of a team and accomplished a lot all before he even finished high school.
All of Peter Parker's adventure was fun but it came at the expense of building his character. The memory wipe changes all of that. The last time we see Peter Parker in No Way Home, he's sewn his own costume, which pays homage to both Andrew Garfield's and Tobey Maguire's, and lives in a cramped apartment as he applies to get his GED after getting into MIT. Given the MCU's penchant for showing and not telling, Holland's next outing could see him portray a Peter Parker much closer to his actual age as someone who's trying to navigate life as a young adult in New York while living a double life as Spider-Man all without a proper support system.
What kind of Spider-Man and Peter Parker will he be, by then? Is he going to be more prone to sadistic and dark tendencies once Venom's symbiote inevitably fuses with him? Will he still be as friendly and jovial? Who is he going to hang out with now that he's a nobody? Does this mean that we'll see Spider-Man meet some of his friends in the comic books like Matt Murdock's Daredevil or Miles Morales? Is he still the face of the MCU? All of these questions are good because it gives the MCU a chance to explore who Spider-Man is behind the mask outside of just being another teenager.
What we’d like to see in the next Spider-Man MCU film
Holland's first Spider-Man trilogy in the MCU was concerned about trying to fit his Peter Parker and Spider-Man into an established cinematic universe, making him the face of the franchise, only to force everyone in Earth-616 forget about him. After the MCU explores how much Peter Parker has grown in the first film of what many presume is another Spider-Man trilogy, we'd love to see him pass the torch to Miles Morales.
Holland's already made it known that he wouldn't want to play Spider-Man well onto his 30s. If we assume that the next set of Spider-Man films will premiere 2-3 years apart from each other, this would suggest that Holland will be around 33-35 by the time that the finale of his next Spider-Man trilogy will end. By that time, Holland will have had a chance to prove that he's no longer just the "reckless" teenage superhero that happened to help save the world, but that he's someone who's already seen his fair share of heartbreak, triumphs, defeats, and is all but ready to pass on the mantle.
The natural course of events would mean that Holland's Parker will meet the MCU's Miles Morales in the next film so that the two can spend enough time bonding with each other that will all culminate in that emotional "passing of the torch moment" similar to what happened with Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Until then, we're hoping that the MCU explores the idea of giving Spider-Man a support system in The Defenders now that they're probably going to be canon to the MCU. After all, with the Avengers pretty much defunct in the current timeline, Peter Parker needs a couple of people to hang out with, for better or for worse. Daredevil and Jessica Jones, among others, are the ideal bunch of misfits that would fit in perfectly with Peter Parker's world now that his reality is a bit more grounded than before.
In the meantime, fans can catch Holland in Uncharted, which made it big at the global box office after premiering on February 18. Once Holland inevitably leaves the MCU, we're guessing that his globe-trotting adventures as Nathan Drake will be his next focus after Sony effectively confirmed that an Uncharted sequel is on its way.