Petered Out

Spider-Man: No Way Home theory reveals how Dr. Strange's spell really works

Let’s get into magical detail.

The Spider-Man: No Way Home ending was such a game-changer, we’re still discovering new things about it months and months after the film’s initial premiere.

Thanks to a re-release of an extended edition, the 2021 movie was one of the top sellers for Labor Day weekend 2022 and, nestled inside all of those extras, was a deleted scene that sheds light on the driving force of the plot: Dr. Strange’s spell. This fan theory breaks down how the spell could have worked its magic.

Redditor YorchKeen points to a new post-credits scene in the extended cut of No Way Home. In it, Peter’s classmates reminisce about their trip to Europe. In all of the group photos, Peter’s face is obscured in some way. Evidently, MJ, Ned, and the other students see him as just some anonymous classmate they never quite remember. But, notably, Peter’s existence has left some kind of physical trace.

On the Europe field trip, the spell made it so Peter was never properly seen in a photograph.Marvel Studios

This deleted scene is one of the best examples we’ve gotten so far into how Strange’s spell, you know, works. We know from the film’s theatrical ending that everyone, including MJ and Ned, have forgotten Peter, but how does the spell manifest on a physical level?

Of the two theories the original poster gives, the second sounds more likely: the spell worked gradually, slowly erasing physical evidence of Peter from existence. This would explain why there was such a big time jump in the last scene of the movie — people needed time to forget.

A gradual memory loss is less noticeable than a sudden culture shift, and would explain why all explicit physical reminders are gone. Like Kony 2012 or Silly Bandz, the fervor over Spider-Man slowly becomes something people aren’t talking about and then something people barely remember.

Dr. Strange casting his world-changing spell in No Way Home.Marvel Studios

As the spell works, it’s not only changing people’s memories, but the physical evidence around the world too. Who knows what Peter’s space in the yearbook looks like now, but it’s clear that he’s being forgotten enough to start his life over from scratch, even though it means some massive sacrifices.

Hopefully, we’ll get a clear answer about just how this spell works the next time we catch up with Peter in his new life. Are there any remaining clues the spell hasn’t reached yet? Are there any exceptions we don’t know about? Considering the scale of the spell, it’s very possible.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now streaming on Disney+.