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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Is Doctor Strange the film’s big bad?

The new trailer for ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ suggests the film is also a Doctor Strange movie

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Doctor Strange and Spider-Man in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

Sony Pictures

The newest trailer for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” reemphasized an idea made clear by the first teaser — the upcoming Spider-Man flick is also a Doctor Strange movie.

In “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) wants the world to forget he is Spider-Man. So he reaches out to the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help. Strange tells Parker he’ll help him, saying he’ll cast a spell that will make the world forget about Spider-Man’s identity.

Of course, things go wrong. The multiverse — somehow — opens up and allows villains from other universes to soar into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Earth, bringing Parker a whole new set of villains to confront.

In the most recent trailer we see more of Doctor Strange, including a scene in which Doctor Strange informs Parker invaders from other universes are coming to Earth and causing problems. Doctor Strange encourages Parker to put an end to it.

Then there are some weird moments where Doctor Strange and Parker appear to disagree over what steps to take next. We see Parker trying to steal a mystical cube from Doctor Strange, who begs to grab it back. He even knocks Peter out of his physical body. The two then battle on a train as they argue over ... something. It’s unclear if Doctor Strange wants to stop Parker from killing the villains, or if Doctor Strange wants to stop Parker from keeping the enemies alive (because the world forgets he’s Spider-Man).

Either way, it’s clear that Doctor Strange features heavily in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and may not be the hero we expect him to be.

This was a theory before the release of the first trailer. As I wrote when the first trailer was released, Doctor Strange seemed off. Doctor Strange — who broke the rules while learning about the mystic arts — seemed pretty strict about them during the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” not letting the Avengers break rules of time and space to defeat villains. But in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” he seems loose with his rules about the multiverse, going as far as to cast a spell that will make the world forget about Spider-Man’s identity.

And remember his appearance in the first trailer. He wore jeans and a hoodie along with a huge overcoat. Later in the first trailer, he’s back to wearing his traditional cape and costume. But the blue hoodie outfit seems a little off. Plus, the trailer shows there’s snow in his apartment.

One theory suggests Doctor Strange could be a variant, as seen in “Loki.” In that Disney+ Marvel show, Loki watches He Who Remains open up the multiverse, allowing variants to enter different universes. Could this be the case with Doctor Strange?

It’s interesting Doctor Strange appears to be featured so prominently in this movie given his own film is coming in May 2023. That film — “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” — is reportedly going through reshoots. Does that have to do with what happens in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”? Is Doctor Strange’s role in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” so meaningful that it impacts his own project.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But if these trailers are any sign of what’s to come, we should not expect Doctor Strange’s antics to slow down anytime soon.