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SYFY WIRE Spider-Man: No Way Home

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' writers on 'balancing act' of ensuring callbacks weren't just fan service

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters everywhere.

By Josh Weiss
Spider Man No Way Home

When writing a movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home, it's easy to get bogged down in packing in as much fan service and callbacks as you can instead of putting in some actual legwork to craft a truly engaging and emotional story that earns those nostalgic references. Fortunately, co-screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers knew they couldn't take the easy way out with Tom Holland's third solo outing as Peter Parker on the big screen.

Having been involved since the very beginning of the "Home" trilogy, the two Tinseltown scribes set out to tell a quality Spider-Man tale first and foremost before inserting all those little Easter eggs for longtime viewers. In particular, they embraced this philosophy for the returning OG villains like Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) who get to utter some of their most iconic (and sometimes meme-able) lines of dialogue such as "You know, I'm something of a scientist myself" and "The power of the sun in the palm of my hand."

"It’s a balancing act because we love those previous movies, the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb ones, and we want to pay homage to them and make the fans happy," Sommers told DiscussingFilm. "But you don’t want to just do lazy fan service for its own sake because it’ll ring false at some point. It’s a balancing act and at every point, again, you have to be thinking about the story. So if you really want to hear this villain say the line that he said in that other movie, you can’t let that drive you in terms of finding a moment for that. If you just go looking for that and you spend all this time, you’re going to end up writing some scene that maybe doesn’t even need to be in the movie."

He continued: "You just have to keep focused on telling Peter Parker’s story, and then hope that you find opportunities for those moments in there. We were working with a lot of smart and talented people, and just poring over these moments again and again, crafting things and trying to find those moments where we could include that kind of stuff in a way that felt like it was organic. We weren’t just doing it for its own sake."

As for where the web-slinging franchise might go next, McKenna and Sommers are remaining tight-lipped for the time being. Will director Jon Watts perhaps tap them for his upcoming MCU reboot of the Fantastic Four? If they are writing the script for that project, they're not saying jack beyond voicing their gratitude for being able to plot out the most recent Spider-Man trilogy.

"Obviously, we’ve been honored and thrilled to be a part of these three movies and Peter’s journey," McKenna said. "If there’s more and we get to be a part of it, that would be great. It’s been thrilling but we have other projects that we’re working on. We have an original Sony [film] that we’re attached to direct and we’re working on that right now. So if it’s in the cards, we’ll see. With all of these, we’re grateful for each one that we’re able to work on."

"There are so many variables that are totally out of our control," Sommers concluded. "So it would be great but we just have to sort of keep a wait-and-see attitude about these things. Because, you know, there’s so much happening that you have no control over."

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film passed the $1 billion-mark at the global box office over the weekend, making it both the highest-grossing title of the year as well as the only Hollywood blockbuster to hit such an impressive financial milestone since the COVID-19 health crisis first began.