In retrospect, it was poetic that the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer preemptively leaked in a dimensionally-layered video of someone watching a video on his phone. After all, the genuine article—highlighted by the continuity-crossing return of Alfred Molina’s Spider-Man 2 villain, Doctor Octopus—has engulfed the Wall-Crawler’s various cinematic continuities like a set of Russian nesting dolls, the byproduct of which will be Sony Pictures’ spinoff movie for the Sinister Six. Now, what has been a decade’s worth of planning from the studio is finally set to pay off in a major way.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is unlikely to take shape as a Sinister Six-centric movie, but the film will evidently send ripples down the shared timeline of the Marvel movies of Sony’s SPUMC (Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters) and Disney/Marvel Studio’s Avengers-housing MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), as the March-scheduled MCU follow-up film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, now clearly suggests. Indeed, an ill-advised spell by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to erase the previous film’s post-credits scene doxing of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) as Spider-Man will tear the fabric of the multiverse (a concept recently introduced on Loki), resulting in a greatest hits rogues gallery being unleashed. Consequently, while Sony’s spinoff route was circuitous, it now has a destination set for its Sinister Six designs.
Marvel debuted the Sinister Six in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, sporting an inaugural lineup of Doctor Octopus, Electro, the Vulture, Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, and Sandman. Interestingly, that alliance was formed by Doc Ock himself, who, frustrated by consistent defeats at the hands of Spider-Man, reached out to fellow villains to form the terrible tandem. However, there have been several lineups of this team over the years with myriad members, leaving nearly unlimited possibilities for its imminent debut in the MCU-adjacent SPUMC, especially in light of No Way Home’s confirmed multiverse implications. However, before we get ahead of ourselves speculating on the full lineup of Sony’s Sinister Six movie, let’s take a quick look at the prospective members revealed in the trailer.
Doctor Octopus, as played by Alfred Molina, is the obvious pick, and likely the only member whose presence is truly essential. While buttressed by a tremendous performance, the villain’s tragic backstory made him into a beloved standout in 2004’s Spider-Man 2, depicted as a good man made into a villain by the (literal, mechanical) hands of fate. Yet, the elephant in the proverbial room is that the character (17-year-old spoiler ahead!) ended up coming to his senses and died heroically in the film while attempting to undo his own destructive nuclear experiment.
That fact alone likely indicates that the versions of the returning villains we’ll see in No Way Home are variants, ones who avoided their film fates. However, the potent “Hello, Peter” greeting he delivers seems to imply a prior relationship, possibly indicating that he’s actually addressing another Spider-Man, like, say, one played by Tobey Maguire. Yet, with this version of Molina’s Doc Ock presumably being one who didn’t have his climactic face-turn, the tentacled terror seems destined to play out his comic fate of fomenting his Spider-Man hate, forming the Sinister Six, and becoming its de facto leader.
The Green Goblin, as played by Willem Dafoe in 2002’s Spider-Man, is also obvious, albeit to a slightly lesser extent. While not seen in the trailer, a shot of one of his signature pumpkin bombs dropping to the ground against the audio of a familiar sinister laugh was all we needed for confirmation of his return.
While, in the comics, the Goblin has been part of past Sinister Six lineups, this version of the character, Norman Osborn, is not known as a team player, and his schizophrenia could create some tensions between him and Doc Ock, which could come to define the film’s dynamic, for better or worse. While Osborn’s fortune make him a convenient financial benefactor, it should be noted that the first comic lineup to include Green Goblin saw him as the leader amid the absence of Doc Ock. Consequently, the arrival of Dafoe’s Green Goblin—which also defies his movie demise—doesn’t necessarily guarantee his presence in the Sinister Six lineup.
Electro, as played by Jamie Foxx, was also interpreted as having a presence in the No Way Home trailer, since one quickly-shown scene depicts a lightning bolt—per his signature powers—striking a police car. Seeing as the character’s comic counterpart is an OG member of the Sinister Six, his presence here is a given, and Foxx’s reported return as Electro last year has helped further feed the Sinister Six speculation. Yet, it will be interesting to see if this appearance will further reflect the notion of Foxx’s Max Dillon being a downtrodden everyman who was a major fan of Spider-Man until his corruption from his electrical powers put them on opposite sides.
Sandman, presumably played by Thomas Hayden Church, who played the character in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, has also been a topic of speculation for this scene, since a tornado of sand appears to be forming behind the presumed Electro-bolt. Church, like Dafoe, has long been rumored for a role reprisal as his Raimi-era movie villain. Yet, when it comes to backstories, this version of Sandman stands as the most potentially intriguing. While the film maintained his real name as Flint Marko, his story was combined with that of the burglar who shot and killed Uncle Ben, thereby making the rivalry with Maguire’s Spider-Man more personal.
However, as with Doc Ock, he was assigned a tragic backstory, attributing his criminal motives and subsequent prison escape to his desire to care for his sick daughter. While much of that baggage is unlikely to manifest in No Way Home, it will be hard to overlook the fact that he’s Uncle Ben’s killer, which despite the film’s possibility of different backstories for multiple Spider-Men, should still hit hard for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. In fact, Sandman’s presence potentially opens the possibility that the whole Uncle Ben situation will finally be addressed for his MCU/SPUMC version, since solo debut Homecoming opted to skip the iconic “power and responsibility” prologue story, with it being the third iteration to arrive in a decade.
Beyond those, the final Sinister Six cinematic lineup is anyone’s guess at this point. The existing array of SPUMC players include Michael Keaton’s Vulture (a front-runner who was not teased in this trailer), Tom Hardy’s Venom, Woody Harrelson’s Carnage, Naomi Harris’s Shriek, Riz Ahmed’s Riot, Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker, all of whom have chances (to varying degrees) of being slotted into the group. Some are set to debut, namely Jared Leto’s Morbius, and Kraven still has a solo movie on Sony’s docket.
Also, lest we forget, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio could still be out there, thereby proving that the “murder” for which Peter was framed was just another one of his illusion-based hoaxes. Additionally, Sony could pull a swerve and bring back some of the more controversial iterations of Spider-Man villains such as Topher Grace’s version of Venom from Spider-Man 3, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man, or even some of the maligned villains from 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 like Paul Giamatti’s Rhino or—in a scenario in which they want to watch the world burn—Dane DeHaan’s Green Goblin.
Regardless, we have a long way to go until the full extent of the multiverse mania set to unravel in Spider-Man: No Way Home can be fully gauged. The film is currently scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 17. Additionally, the presumed follow-up to said mania, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is scheduled to arrive on Mar. 15. Until then, we’ll all just have to enjoy the speculative ride.