With great power comes great responsibility. It was this proverbial phrase that united three complete strangers in the 2021, film Spider-Man No Way Home. Despite not possessing prior knowledge of one another, it was their shared gifts and responsibilities that allowed three versions of the web-slinging hero, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), to unite and protect their beloved home, Queens, New York. Peter 1, Peter 2, and Peter 3 played by Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield respectively, have all had their share of struggles in their own universes. It is not until a magic spell goes wrong and brings supervillains from various universes into Peter 1’s world that all three Spider-Men learn of one another’s existences. What makes this moment special, aside from the rush of nostalgia it brings audiences who grew up watching earlier portrayals of Spider-Man, is the manner in which the characters weave a web of their individual experiences to form an unlikely brotherhood.
Tobey Maguire as Peter 2 in Spiderman: No Way Home
Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker is like the eldest brother who has dealt with his portion of responsibility the longest. His character’s web-slinging powers derive organically, meaning he’s had to adapt to his powers in a manner that the other two Spider-Men, whose webs come from man-made web fluid, have not. However, like an older brother, rather than use this as an advantage over his newfound comrades, he encourages them and reminds the two that there is no room for put downs. This is evident through the pep talk he gives Andrew Garfield’s Peter 3, reminding him to rework his “self talk” and that he is “amazing”.
Andrew Garfield as Peter 3 in Spiderman: No Way Home
Andrew Garfield’s version of Peter Parker represents the middle brother. He has dealt with his share of heartache and trauma but understands he has a younger brother figure whom he’d like to shield from the hardships he faced himself. For instance, when Peter 1’s girlfriend, MJ, faces a deadly situation, Peter 3 frantically rushes to save her in order to prevent Peter 1 from facing the same pain he experienced over losing his own sweetheart, Gwen Stacy. Similar to the middle brother role, Andrew Garfield’s version of Spider-Man serves as the glue of the family. He is not afraid to blurt out a quick “I love you” to remind his brothers of the joy they bring into his life.
Tom Holland as Peter 1 in Spiderman: No Way Home
Tom Holland’s interpretation of Peter Parker symbolizes the younger brother of the trio. Much like the youngest member in a family, Peter 1 has a plethora of knowledge on the latest technology. He has encountered experiences that are exclusive to the era he is growing up in which he wishes to share with his new companions. For instance, Peter 1 explains his affiliation with the Avengers to his older brother figures and uses it as an example to enlighten them on the effectiveness of teamwork. Despite the fact that his companions are accustomed to working independently, in true younger brother fashion, Peter 1 helps to keep his older brother figures in line and reminds them of the power they hold when they stand united.
The three Peter’s share a brotherly hug after a long battle.
Before heading into battle, Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker confesses he “always wanted brothers”, and Spider-Man No Way Home granted his wish by bringing together three unlikely heroes and allowing them to form a family. The most impactful moments of the film are when audiences witness this band of brothers in action, using their new roles to battle against the wrath of the villains terrorizing Queens. Peter 1, Peter 2, and Peter 3 were independently navigating through the duties that come with the coveted role of Spider-Man, but it wasn't until the youngest Peter was in need that they were able to connect and make a difference not only in the lives of New York citizens, but in their own as well. The idea of empathy is what resonates with audiences because no matter how difficult it may be to handle one’s responsibilities, there are others out in the world dealing with their own share of hardships who make the experience less isolating. It’s only a matter of time before one meets the people who, like the Spider-Men in the film, will have their back.