This week, Spider-Fans around the world cried out in joy as Marvel gave us our first look at Spider-Man: No Way Home. And to say that the film’s first teaser set the Internet on fire would be an understatement. Given everything revealed, No Way Home looks to be the biggest Spider-Man film since Into the Spider-Verse. Given how Spidey’s last MCU film ended with his secret identity being outed to the world, there’s a lot for fans to look forward to. Keeping his identity safe is an essential part of Spider-Man’s character, even if it causes his personal life to suffer. It’s no wonder that the teaser shows Peter go to such drastic lengths to make most of the world forget his secret. It’s not the first time either.
Fans of the comic books may or may not know this, but there was a time when Peter Parker’s secret got exposed. And all those worries about the worst-case scenario came to pass. He got his secret back, but it took writers altering the character’s history to do so. For those not in the know, here’s a look at the time when Peter Parker had to make the world forget he was Spider-Man
Marvel Civil War
Like much of the MCU, Spidey’s new predicament has its basis in the comic books. In this case, the comic book version of the event known as the “Civil War” serves as the background to this story.
To sum it up, when a supervillain levels an entire town and kills hundreds, the US Government passes a law requiring superhumans to register their powers and identities with the government. This split the heroes down the middle. On one side was the Pro-Registration faction led by Iron Man. On the other side was the Anti-Registration faction led by Captain America. Surprisingly, Spider-Man chose to join Iron Man’s team. Then, he shocked the world by publicly revealing his identity as Peter Parker.
The Troubles Begin
There’s a reason why Peter hides the fact that he’s Spider-Man from the world at large: he can’t protect his loved ones 24/7. He lacks the resources and wealth of Iron Man or the respect given to Captain America, meaning anyone he cares about gets a target on their back.
Oh, and Jameson proceeds to sue Parker for lying to him for years about his pictures.
Parker soon realizes that he made a huge mistake revealing he’s Spider-Man, and halfway through the Civil War, he defects to Captain America’s side. In the end, it matters little, as Cap eventually surrenders when he sees that the fighting’s gone too far. As a result, Spider-Man becomes a fugitive. Then, the worst happens when Aunt May’s shot by an assassin hired by the Kingpin.
Deal With the Devil
Having had his entire world unravel, Peter pulls out all the stops to save his Aunt May. Traveling to other realities, supernatural means, alien technology, but nothing works. It looks like Aunt May’s a goner! But then, he gets help from the worst possible person.
Mephisto, an extremely powerful Demon-Lord, approaches Peter and his wife MJ with an offer. He’ll save Aunt May and make it so no one remembers he’s Spider-Man. However, he’ll want something in return: their marriage and all memory of it will be wiped from existence, a massive retcon from Marvel execs who wanted Spidey to go back to being single. And, after much soul-searching, the two agreed.
The New Narrative
Following this massive retcon, a new narrative emerges. While Peter and MJ were set to get married, circumstances knocked him out cold and kept him from making the wedding. Despite this, the two remained together until the events of Civil War. Everything proceeded as they did before, the main difference being Peter revived his Aunt through sheer determination. Following this, though, Peter realized that he couldn’t keep putting everyone through this torture, so he chose to do something about it. Traveling to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum, he asked for his help to make the world forget he was Spider-Man. Seeing that Peter didn’t deserve any of this, Strange, Iron Man, and Mr. Fantastic agreed to combine their collective resources to grant Peter his wish.
Dr. Strange would cast a global spell that would wipe the memory of Peter’s identity from everyone. Meanwhile, Reed and Tony would use their technology to erase all records of Peter being Spider-Man from every database on Earth. It worked; Spider-Man got his secret back, with MJ being the only one to remember. However, she broke up with him over this.
How Will MCU Spider-Man Deal With This?
Thanks to the teaser, we know that Peter goes to Dr. Strange to pull off the same spell that he did in the comics. However, Peter’s desire to have his loved ones remember his identity make the spell go awry, and possibly lead to a crossover with the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Men.
There are four ways that MCU Spidey could resolve his problems. Firstly, he could accept that he has to keep his identity a secret, even from his loved ones. Secondly, he might find a way around this and have some of them remember. Disney could go an original route and let Spider-Man’s identity remain public and have him show his detractors they’re full of it (which is my personal favorite). The last option, though, might see MCU Spidey leave his universe behind and travel to alternate versions of his world as part of some multiverse spanning army of Spider-Men. In addition, this would let Marvel and Sony continue to share him and make everyone happy.
It’s either that or the Mouse flexes his considerable resources and buys the rights to the webhead from Sony.
If you want to learn more about this story in the comics, read the Marvel: Civil War Limited Series. I’d recommend One More Day as well, but it’s garbage. Seriously, that was one of the dumbest retcons Marvel has ever done! But, thankfully, recent events in the comics may be about to fix this mistake, which will be awesome.