Spider-Man: No Way Home brought multiple generations of Spider-Man movies together for an epic mission to save the Marvel multiverse (and the various Spider-Man movie franchises within it) from a catastrophic meltdown. When former Spider-Man actors Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire showed up in No Way Home, it set up a whole host of fun deep-cut callback jokes to both Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man movie trilogy and the two Amazing Spider-Man reboot films. Some of them were pretty obvious and clear, others may have been easier to miss – especially if you haven’t seen every single one of the Spider-Man movies, or soaked in their many memes and gifs.
Here’s a breakdown of every Spider-Man movie callback reference in Spider-Man: No Way Home – we’ll add any new ones you find so let us know in the comments!
“The Power of the Sun, In The Palm of My Hand”
Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock makes several references to having “the power of the sun” in the palm of his hand several times during No Way Home. This was of course Otto Octavius’s noble mission to create a new power source in Spider-Man 2 – which then became Doc Ock’s destructive ambition. A cured Octavius finally sees his dream realized in the new Arc Reactor element Tony Stark invented in Iron Man 2.
“Itsy Bitsy Spider”
Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin made this children’s nursery rhyme insanely creepy in the original Spider-Man movie. Somehow, he made it even creepier with his new rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in No Way Home.
“I’m Something of a Scientist Myself”
Major props to Spider-Man: No Way Home for having the gall to recycle one of the biggest and most well-known Spider-Man movie memes from Sam Raimi’s original film (Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin touting his scientific credentials) for No Way Home.
Which Dr. Connors?
When Peter 3 (Garfield) mentions that Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is The Lizard, it sparks some recognition in Peter 2 (Maguire) who knows a Dr. Connors who is NOT a murderous reptile. Actor Dylan Baker played Peter 2’s academic mentor Curt Connors in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films – but unfortunately, Baker never got his Lizard makeover when that franchise ended after the third film.
‘My Best Friend Tried to Kill Me’
While Peter 1, 2, and 3 all do the science work to “cure” their respective villains, Peter 1’s BFF Ned (Jacob Batalon) is his usual curious self. Ned wants to know if Peter 2 (Maguire) had a “guy in the chair” like Ned is for Peter 1; instead, Ned gets a dose of tragedy he didn’t expect when Peter 2 tells him the story of how his best friend (James Franco’s Harry Osborn in the original Spider-Man Trilogy) eventually betrayed him, turned into a monster, and then died in his arms. Peter 3 (Garfield) is no help, as his own best friend (Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn in Amazing Spider-Man 2) also turned into a goblin monster and murdered Peter’s girlfriend (Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy).
Needless to say, Ned leaves the conversation sorry that he ever asked.
At several points in conversations, Peter 2 (Tobey Maguire) alludes that his relationships with both his girl MJ and best friend Harry are “complicated,” and that he MJ eventually had to find their way to making things work. Given where Spider-Man 3 left things (with Harry dead and Peter and Mary Jane somewhat estranged), Peter 2’s words are an understatement when referencing the awkward way Raimi’s franchise ended.
“I Fought An Alien Once”
When of the best scenes in Spider-Man: No Way Home is the chat the three Peter Parkers have before the final battle at the Statue of Liberty. Peter 2 (Maguire) and Peter 3 (Garfield) have their minds blown by Peter 1’s (Holland) story of fighting in space and fighting alongside other superpowered people like The Avengers; all Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man can offer is that he fought an alien once (never went to space) – a reference to Spider-Man 3’s infamous take on Venom (Topher Grace).
“Guy In A Rhino Suit”
Poor Peter 3 (Andrew Garfield) didn’t get any space fights or aliens – all he got was Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s even more infamous bad ending, which saw Spider-Man return to active duty by facing off against Paul Giamatti’s “Rhino,” which was re-imagined as a (terrible) mechanized suit.
“Peter #2” (Maguire) needs some back-cracking help from “Peter #3” (Garfield) before the final battle in No Way Home. Peter 2’s back issues are actually a sly meta-joke reference to behind-the-scenes drama with Spider-Man 2. Rumor was that back in the early 2000s Maguire used a supposed back injury filming Seabiscuit as leverage to delay the Spider-Man sequel and secure a bigger payday. Who knows what the count is on that money – but at least Maguire is having fun with the drama, now.
“Trying to Do Better, Doc”
The great thing about Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 is that Molina brought a nobility to Otto that made for a compelling and tragic downfall later. One of Molina’s most famous quotes as Octavius is his early proclomation that “Intelligence is not a privilege, it’s a gift. And you use it for the good of mankind.” It was a speech that resonated deeply with young Peter Parker (Maguire) and formed the thematic arc of his struggles as Spider-Man in the film. When Peter #2 tells Octavius that he’s still trying to do better after the battle in No Way Home, it’s a poignant return of a brilliant mentor Peter adored.
The LEGO Empire Strikes Back
Spider-Man: Homecoming used a LEGO model of Star Wars’ Death Star as a symbol of the friendship bond between Peter 1 (Tom Holland) and Ned (Jacob Batalon). After Peter 1 uses Doctor Strange’s spell to erase himself from the memories of everyone, he moves into a gritty little midtown Manhattan apartment and keeps one precious heirloom featured on his mantle: the LEGO Palpatine from he and Ned’s Death Star model.