When Peter Parker asked Doctor Strange to wipe out the world’s knowledge that he’s Spider-Man, did he actually mean “the world”? What exactly were the parameters for Strange’s spellcasting?
It’s a question fans on Reddit are asking themselves, and parsing Peter’s vocabulary has led to a solid theory that could produce some interesting developments for the Avengers.
What Happened? — On the Marvel subreddit r/MCUTheories, user u/ObsessedHorrorFreak posed an interesting question about the parameters for Doctor Strange’s spell in No Way Home. As they put it, “Does Nick Fury, Steve Rogers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and all the other agents and characters in space remember [P]eter?”
It’s a good question. In No Way Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help in erasing people’s knowledge of his identity. Peter’s nervousness makes the spell go awry, which opens up the multiverse and invites villains from other dimensions — villains who know that Parker is Spider-Man — into the MCU. Cue cameos and fan service galore.
But at the end of the movie Strange tries again, and this time it works almost too well. Everyone forgets Peter Parker even exists (including the state of New York, evidenced by Peter having to take his GED because his entire high school education basically never happened). This allows Peter Parker to operate freely as Spider-Man, but at the cost of the people he loves.
But did everyone forget?
How Far Does the Spell Go? — I wonder if u/ObsessedHorrorFreak is a lawyer, because they’re thinking about interesting technicalities.
Doctor Strange did say at least once that “the world” will forget Peter is Spider-Man. But the MCU has heroes who aren’t on Earth, like Captain Marvel. If Strange’s spell was limited to Earth, there are still heroes in the MCU who know Peter is Spider-Man. It’s a short list, but it should include:
- Nick Fury
- The Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Drax, Groot, Rocket, Nebula, and Gamora, though she’s no longer a member of the Guardians)
- Thor, if he stayed with the Guardians in space during the events of No Way Home
- Carol Danvers, if she’s also still off-planet during No Way Home
The list may also include Maria Hill, if she followed Nick Fury. This has never been revealed; the real Maria Hill’s whereabouts have been unknown since Endgame.
A really interesting possibility would be Eddie Brock and Venom. The two were in the MCU when Peter’s identity was revealed, but it’s unknown if Strange’s spell took away their memories upon their return to their proper universe.
u/ObsessedHorrorFreak suggests that Steve Rogers would remember Peter too, but I’m doubtful. Steve stayed on Earth and accomplished his mission to restore the Infinity Stones in faraway places like Asgard and Vormir long before Peter asked for Strange’s help. Steve is more likely to be at home on Earth watching Gunsmoke reruns than on an alien planet.
The Inverse Analysis — Despite the vast scope of the MCU, there aren’t many characters in the universe who have met Peter Parker as Spider-Man and weren’t on Earth when Doctor Strange cast the spell. But that exclusivity only opens the door to interesting possibilities for the future.
Could Nick Fury recruit Spider-Man for a new Avengers team? Could Star-Lord recruit Peter for the Guardians of the Galaxy? Peter telling Star-Lord that his Microsoft Zune is a dated piece of technology would be worth the price of a movie ticket alone.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now in theaters.