Chris McKenna, the co-writer of Spider-Man: No Way Home, explains how the film’s story was inspired by the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Mysterio reveals his identity and implicates Spider-Man as a murderer in No Way Home. When Peter is unable to defeat Mysterio on his own, he seeks the assistance of Doctor Strange.
It is Strange’s spell that brings everyone in the multiverse who knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man into the MCU, rather than making the world forget about him. Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, Lizard, and Spider-Man himself are just a few of the characters from previous Spider-Man films that will be returning. NWH was always going to focus on Peter’s identity reveal. However, bringing back old villains and past web-slingers was not the initial plan.
No Way Home co-writer McKenna revealed in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter how the return of so many iconic Spider-Man characters and actors was inspired by It’s a Wonderful Life. When contract negotiations between Disney/Marvel Studios and Sony broke down in 2019, the studios discussed how to pick up where Far from Home ended. What follows is a quote from McKenna:
“Once Sony and Marvel hammered everything out, we were like, ‘OK, we’ve got the team back together. What are we doing now with this giant reveal [in Far From Home, in which Peter Parker’s identity is made public]? We started playing around with what different ways that fallout could affect our character. The idea of It’s a Wonderful Life, ‘What if he somehow made a wish? I guess it would have to be Doctor Strange. Is there a way to put the genie back in the bottle?’ That opened up a few different story avenues we started exploring.”
It’s a Wonderful Life, set in 1945, tells the story of George Bailey, a man who has given up everything to help others. Dejected and unfulfilled on Christmas Eve, George is about to jump off a bridge and end his life. However, this is when his guardian angel Clarence appears and leaps into the canal ahead of him.
A few days later, Clarence shows him what it would have been like if George hadn’t existed. George comes to terms with the consequences of his actions. He ultimately begs Clarence to return the world to the way it was when he and his family were happier.
To halt Strange’s spell from unleashing multiverse madness, Peter realizes that everyone in the MCU must forget Parker at the end of NWH. Peter tells his friends, MJ and Ned goodbye before the spell takes root, promising to find them and explain everything.
In the end, Peter decides against reactivating their memories because he believes they would be better off without them. It’s a Wonderful Life is essentially reversed in this ending, with everyone forgetting that Peter was ever born. The legacy of Spider-Man’s good deeds, like that of George, is still there.