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Here's one essential Spider-Man movie you need to watch before No Way Home

There's a hero in all of us, and this 2004 blockbuster proves it.

It’s almost here. Spider-Man: No Way Home, the highly anticipated superhero film hits theaters around the world this week, and to say that it references other Marvel and Spider-Man movies would be an understatement.

The film’s cast is a mix of actors from Marvel Studios’ previous Spider-Man movies and characters from Sony’s previous web-slinger films, including Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, and Jamie Foxx’s Electro. If early rumors and “leaks” are to be believed, they aren’t the only surprise characters fans should expect to see in No Way Home either.

All of which is to say that it’d probably do you a lot of good to go back and watch (or rewatch) several past Spider-Man and Marvel Cinematic Universe films before going to see Spider-Man: No Way Home for the first time. However, if you don’t have a lot of time for research this week, there’s one movie in particular that will give you a lot of the information you’ll need to know in No Way Home.

That movie is director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. Here’s why Inverse recommends that you make some time for it ASAP.

While Spider-Man: No Way Home features more than its fair share of multiversal villains, none of them are more notable than Molina’s Doc Ock and Dafoe’s Norman Osborn. The latter character is the primary villain of 2002’s Spider-Man, and his legacy even plays a significant role in 2004’s Spider-Man 2.

That means Spider-Man 2 should tell you everything you need to know about both Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Molina’s Otto Octavius, who serves as the film’s main antagonist. Since no one likes feeling as if they’re on the outside of an inside joke, watching Spider-Man 2 before No Way Home will also, thankfully, ensure that you catch most of the (many) references that the new film makes.

In addition to its inclusion of two of No Way Home’s most prominent villains, Spider-Man 2 also appears to be a major reference point for No Way Home. The 2004 film sees its central hero, Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker, struggling to balance his normal life with his superhero responsibilities in a way that characters rarely do in modern comic book movies. But Spider-Man: No Way Home promises to cover similar thematic territory.

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in director Sam Raimi’s superhero masterpiece, Spider-Man 2.Sony Pictures

There’s a lot that you need to know about Sony’s past Spider-Man movies and the MCU in order to truly understand every Easter egg and plot point in No Way Home. That said, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 gives you the most necessary information of any Sony or Marvel movie, which makes it essential viewing heading into Spider-Man: No Way Home this week.

Thankfully, Spider-Man 2 is also, arguably, still the single greatest superhero movie ever made, which makes watching it before No Way Home just about the easiest homework assignment one could ever ask for.

Spider-Man 2 is available to rent. You can also stream it on Peacock with a premium subscription.