Spider-Man: No Way Home Could Salvage Marvel’s Most Controversial Storyline

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After months and months of eager anticipation, Spider-Man: No Way Home will be swinging its way into theaters in just a few more days and while there has been no shortage of theories and speculation about exactly what fans can expect in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, there’s one thing that has been clear since the very first trailer arrived back in August. With Peter Parker/Spider-Man reeling from his secret identity being made public at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the young hero seeks out Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange for help to erase this knowledge from the public’s memory. However, the magic doesn’t quite work out the way Peter or Strange intends it to. The story appears to be Marvel Studios’ take on one of comics’ most controversial storylines, 2007’s “One More Day,” a comic that remains divisive among fans to this day. But now with the upcoming film set to offer its spin on the plot, it’s worth looking back at the impact of this infamous run on Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man titles, as well as how No Way Home could ultimately redeem the comics story.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada, “One More Day” was a four-part crossover connecting the three main Spidey series published by Marvel at the time: Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and Sensational Spider-Man. The story begins after Spider-Man’s true identity is revealed during the events of Civil War, when Aunt May is shot
by an enemy targeting Peter Parker’s loved ones. During Peter’s attempts to save her life, he encounters Mephisto who makes him a devilish offer: Mephisto will save Aunt May’s life and the world would forget Spider-Man’s true identity, but Peter has to give him his marriage to Mary Jane Watson. Peter and Mary Jane agree and as a result, that part of their history is erased as though it had never even happened.

The storyline led to the general restructuring of the Spider-Man titles at that time, but it also didn’t go over well with fans or critics. Many were upset that not only did Peter make a deal with the literal devil, but decades of Spider-Man canon leading to Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage were wiped out — a status quo change that many readers never really got over. There was even some criticism that the idea that Peter would throw away his own life and future, as it were, for his elderly aunt was such a bad idea that it seemed forced. The storyline continued to have fallout in many ensuing comics, including the recent “Kindred Saga”.

Looking back at “One More Day,” even with the various developments within the main Spider-Man titles since, some of the original criticisms of the crossover still ring true. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home offers an opportunity to redeem the concepts of “One More Day” in a way that feels more authentic to Peter Parker’s mythos than the comics did, and much of that comes down to the age of the MCU’s Peter versus the age the character was in the comics.

While an adult Peter choosing to make a deal with the literal devil in order to save his Aunt May seems to be ill-considered and selfish to fans, a teenaged Peter making a similar choice (with or without Mephisto, choose your own adventure here) to save a loved one feels very fitting — especially given this Peter’s experience with The Blip and his track record with naive decision making. There’s also the idea that the MCU’s Aunt May is much younger than the comics incarnation, and we’ve seen her begin to find new happiness with Happy Hogan. If Peter were put in a situation where he had to make a drastic call between his own happiness and that of Aunt May, it’s not hard to imagine he’d make that decision.

And still, No Way Home could take things even further with their spin on “One More Day”: With the film taking on a whole multiverse of Spider-Man with the inclusion of villains from previous film franchises, as well as the rumors of previous actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield also appearing, there’s the idea that Holland’s Peter Parker could make some sort of personal sacrifice in order to set right the chaos caused by the Doctor Strange’s spell. What if the MCU’s Peter makes a sacrifice in order “make right” things in the universe of one of the other Spider-Men — such as Garfield’s Peter, whose grief over the death of Gwen Stacy remains an iconic moment from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

While “One More Day” will remain a controversial comic storyline and continue to draw ire from fans, there are basic concepts of choices and sacrifice that are worth exploring. It’s those concepts that Spider-Man: No Way Home has a real opportunity to tackle in a way that redeems the problematic comics story, creates interesting new opportunities for the larger MCU and the multiverse, and will help propel Peter Parker into his next chapter.

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