Every Potential Branched Timeline Created by Spider-Man 3

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home, now playing in theaters.

The creation of the multiverse in Loki Season 1, Episode 6, “For All Time. Always.” may ultimately eclipse the Snap as the single most important event in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Above and beyond its effects on Phase 4 projects -- starting with Spider-Man: No Way Home and showing no immediate signs of letting up -- it has neatly bound the five earlier Spider-Man films more closely with the MCU. Those earlier efforts – three from director Sam Raimi and two more from Marc Webb’s reboot – constitute two parallel universes on their own, with their respective variant Peter Parkers arriving in the MCU to help their prime counterpart.

But just as those earlier movies have now more or less joined the MCU as “official” parallel universes, so too has the MCU affected them. No Way Home ended with the three Peters curing the affliction of each of the five villains, then returning them to their home universe to presumably live their lives in peace. As one Reddit poster pointed out, that in turn would create new parallel universes, as each villain is returned to their home at a particular point which then alters the flow of history for the two earlier Spider-Man franchises.

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In effect, it results in seven parallel Spidey universes on top of the MCU. In addition to the Raimiverse and the Webbverse – the two respective franchises as they stand – every timeline is altered in a different manner when the reformed villain returns. The original Spider-Man would leave a sane Norman Osborn to reconnect with his son – likely sparing that universe the events of Spider-Man 2 and possible sections of Spider-Man 3 – while Doctor Octopus and the Sandman would likely return to do more or less exactly what they did in the original films. And those two variant universes likely differed only cosmetically from each other.

The Webb films would be affected more drastically. With Dr. Connors freed of the Lizard in the first Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Stacy likely wouldn’t have been killed, which would ultimately spare Gwen her fate. The return of a cured Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would be more complex since he would likely be sent to prison for his crimes. Depending upon his mental state, he could either prevent or enable Dane DeHaan’s version of Harry Osborn from forming some version of the Sinister Six in their universe. That, in turn, creates a new branch and two new parallel universes, with Electro either becoming a hero or returning to his villainous ways.

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Similar branching and duplications extend well beyond the status of the villains. Both variant Peters presumably return to their universes more heartened and fulfilled. Andrew Garfield’s version, for instance, spoke of his lingering anger after Gwen’s death and how it gave his career as a superhero a darker edge. The events of No Way Home appear to have restored his faith, and all three Spider-Men take active comfort in the way they cured their various foes. That, in turn, will likely have an impact on future events in their respective universes as well.

Finally, the effects of Doctor Strange’s spell of forgetting could very likely have serious ramifications in any and all universes created in the course of No Way Home. The prime MCU’s Peter found himself utterly alone in the world, purchasing a shabby apartment and presumably preparing for a hard-knock life as a cub photographer. If something similar happened to either or both of the other Peters, it could cause even more disruption in their lives as their own MJs and Aunt Mays suddenly had no memory of them.

In short, what at first seems like a relatively sedate trio of separate timelines quickly morphs into seven once No Way Home’s logic is followed to the end. From there, it extends in countless directions, exploding with possibilities even as No Way Home links the earlier films permanently to the MCU. The concept played out sharply in the film itself and was a big factor in its staggering success. But the implications suggest not only more stories to tell in those older Spider-verses, but an endlessly expanding array of alternate universes a hypothetical filmmaker could choose from. Those branching timelines at the end of Loki show no signs of stopping.

To see how three Peter Parkers affect the previous Spider-Man movie universes, Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home End-Credits Almost Featured Major Returning Characters
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About The Author
Robert Vaux (526 Articles Published)

A native Californian, Rob Vaux has been a critic and entertainment writer for over 20 years, including work for Collider, Mania.com, the Sci-Fi Movie Page, and Rotten Tomatoes. He lives in the Los Angeles area, roots for the Angels, and is old enough to remember when Splinter of the Mind's Eye was a big deal.

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