Doctor Strange returned to the MCU with Spider-Man: No Way Home to reprise his role as the Sorcerer. The movie gave him a significant role in the story. But it also made one scene from his 2016 outing seem far too mindless. After the long and successful run of the Infinity Saga, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is constantly broadening its horizons.
Phase 4 of the MCU continues to introduce new characters and narratives. One prominent arc is that of the Multiverse. Disney+ shows like Loki and What If…? Made the viewers familiar with the concept of the Multiverse. However, with Spider-Man: No Way Home, the studio explained just how dangerous and equally thrilling the Multiversal collapse can turn out to be.
Spider-Man: Far From Home concluded with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) outing the real identity of Peter Parker, and also framed him for his murder. Following the shocking event, Spider-Man: No Way Home saw Peter Parker trying to navigate through the repercussions left by his most important secret being revealed to the entire world. But Peter only wanted to protect those he cared most about. To do that, Peter seeks the help of Doctor Strange.
The Sorcerer suggests casting a spell that would make everyone forget that Peter Parker is, in fact, Spider-Man. But being the chaotic kid he is, Peter kept interrupting Strange in his spell. For that reason, the spell gets out of control and breaks open the gates of the Multiverse. This gave various terrifying villains from the previous Spider-Man movies a chance to enter the MCU. Villains like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Lizard, Electro, and Sandman showed up all hungry for revenge. But that’s not all. The Multiverse also allowed the two other Spider-Men, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, to cross over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But despite that, managing the advent of these villains did take a toll on the residing members of the current universe. Especially because both Spider-Man and Doctor Strange had separate ideas regarding dealing with chaos and how to send the villains back to their respective universes. To handle things the right way, Peter gets help from Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) to steal the contained spell of Doctor Strange. And somehow manage to cage the Sorcerer in the Mirror Dimension.
Meanwhile, Ned holds on to Strange’s sling ring. As the movie progresses, Ned realizes the power of the sling ring and learns how to open portals as he tries to locate Peter. And this is how he finds Garfield’s Peter and even Maguire’s Peter. Or for the sake of clarity, Peter-Three and Peter-Two, respectively. While it is interesting to see Ned creating portals using the sling ring, the scene diminishes the intensity of a particular moment from 2016’s Doctor Strange.
Marvel first introduced sling rings and their capacities through Doctor Strange. In the movie, the Sorcerer used his sling ring on plenty of events. Mainly to teleport to a certain location or to send his opponents somewhere far and inaccessible. After that, in Avengers: Infinity War, Strange and Wong used the sling rings to first locate Tony Stark. And then again in the Battle of Titan against Thanos. Not only that, as a massive surprise element, all the Sorcerers use the sling rings again to transport other superheroes from the MCU to the Battle of Earth in Avengers: Endgame.
The sling rings’ ability to create portals to literally anywhere in the universe is by far the MCU’s most incredible element placed in an object. More so because when Strange was training at Kamar-Taj, it took him a tiring amount of dedication and struggle to learn and master the power. But Spider-Man: No Way Home turned the entire art into something flimsy and foolish by showing just how simple it is to create a portal using a sling ring. In the movie, Ned simply focused on what he wanted and moved his hands in a circular motion. And just like that, he managed to open a portal. Whereas when Strange first started using the ring, he could barely manage to create some orange sparks out of it. Not only that, we learn in Doctor Strange that the sling rings are the kind of equipment distinctly carved for that person wearing them. However, Spider-Man: No Way Home does not put the factor into consideration.
Like we said, seeing him randomly create portals with the sling ring was an arc that fit Ned’s fun personality. To spice it up a bit, he even thought that he had to chant some magic words if he wanted the ring to act like he wanted it to. After all, his grandmother always thought Ned was meant to possess magical powers. But this humorous approach only proved a significant Doctor Strange scene into a trivial one. All of Strange’s training moments and struggles only seem silly now. The scene shows just how ordinary and common it is for sorcerers to use sling rings. It also suggests that anyone can use them without having mastered the art.