Spider-Man: No Way Home writers Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna have explained that one key scene was written and rewritten at least 10 times before it made it to our screens.
Speaking during an IGN Fan Fest panel, the co-writers were asked about how they turned what could simply have been a scene featuring simple cameos into something more meaningful to everyone involved – and revealed that it took a lot of work.
Warning: This story contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home!
The scene in question is where Tom Holland’s Peter meets his multiversal equivalents, played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. The scene takes place just after the death of Aunt May, and sees Peter wrestling with the idea of sending the massed villains back to their own realities, knowing that they would soon die. Sommers explained that the goal was twofold: the Spider-Men needed to get the MCU’s Peter to not give up and put him on the path to the climax of the movie, but also give us a glimpse into their own lives:
“When they got pulled into this movie, what condition were they in? What were they doing? What was their mindset? The end of the last Amazing Spider-Man had this really nice speech from Gwen about staying hopeful and everything. And immediately it became interesting to us. Well, what if Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, if his Peter Parker couldn’t do it, he couldn’t keep that hope. He was too hurt by what happened. And so, that led us to the attitude that we found for him.
“And then we also had to think long and hard about where Tobey’s Spider-Man would be in. And that was a more difficult question ’cause more time has gone by. And what has that guy been up to? And then of course the actors had opinions about what their Spider-Man, what their Peter Parkers should have been up to, and where they’d be coming from as well.”
Per Sommers, those many factors led to, “a lot of conversations and a lot of writing. I would say we must have written that scene at least 10 times.”
McKenna made clear that it wasn’t just the writers and actors involved in this ever-changing scene, but those in charge of the Spider-Man and Marvel universes as a whole.
“The story just evolves the entire time. This is all a collaborative experience with effort with [MCU boss] Kevin Feige and [Spider-Man producer] Amy Pascal and [director] Jon Watts and many more and we’re just all working together […] Once we knew we had Tobey and Andrew, obviously we have an MCU Peter Parker story to tell, and we knew we’d be holding off on Tobey and Andrew till the third act, but we definitely talked a lot about how will they be coming in, so it didn’t feel like it was just Deus Ex Machina.”
The evolutions of the meeting scene seemed to continue right up until the movie was being shot:
“It took a lot of work by everyone – Kevin, Jon, Amy, all of us – to really just work out all that,” explained McKenna. “And then we brought in the actors and they then had all their own ideas. Making a movie like this is a big collaborative experience. And with each collaborator, it just gets better and better. But it changes. And even the night before that big rooftop scene with the three of them meeting together and trying to convince MCU Peter not to push the button and send these people back to their deaths. That was the kind of thing that we’d been working on over and over. And then the actors come in and then we rip it all apart and we put it all back together again.”
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Ultimately the version we saw onscreen – which pleased a lot of fans – is a culmination of all the ideas put forward in previous drafts, something the writers seem very happy with. “A lot of the pieces are there, but in slightly different ways,” said McKenna. “And it’s just a evolution and for us, it’s just a privilege to work with all these incredible people. And we were all working together, that’s what was so great about it. Just trying to make sure it was living up to this great concept.”
The result is a movie we called “the darkest and funniest MCU Spider-Man entry to date”, and that “here’s Marvel showing off the fact that they have us all in the palm of their hands yet again”.