Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Might Clear Up A Big Question We Have About Doctor Octopus

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Next month, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker will collide with the multiverse in Spider-Man: No Way Home, as Spidey villains from other realities are pulled into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a spell cast by Doctor Strange to make the world forget that Peter is Spider-Man goes wrong. One of these villains will be Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, who memorably served as the main antagonist in 2004’s Spider-Man 2. But wait, hadn’t Doc Ock turned back to the light when we last saw him nearly two decades ago?

It’s odd that this version of Doctor Octopus is wreaking havoc again, but upon seeing the watching the latest Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, it appears as though the tentacled scientist’s reign of terror is short-lived; he’s only seen fighting Holland’s Peter Parker on that bridge and is later shown calmly talking with the teen superhero and his friends. So why the sudden shift in demeanor? The trailer may already clear up that mystery, but before we delve into that, let’s look back on how things ended for Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2.

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Where We Left Off With Doctor Octopus In Spider-Man 2

While Marvel Comics’ version of Otto Octavius wasn’t a stellar individual even before he became bonded to his mechanical appendages, Alfred Molina’s Otto started out as a good man in Spider-Man 2, happily married and working to improve quality of life for humanity with his science. Unfortunately, the accident with his first fusion reactor resulted in the inhibitor chip blocking the arms’ AI from his nervous system being destroyed. As a result, the now-sentient arms started influencing Otto’s behavior, making him unstable and violent.

Things got bad enough that the corrupted Otto Octavius nearly destroyed New York City with his second fusion reactor. Luckily, with the help of Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker, Otto was able to take back control of the tentacles. From there, he sacrificed his life to drown the fusion core before it exploded. So he died a redeemed man, which makes his turn back to villainy in Spider-Man: No Way Home puzzling.

Doctor Octopus with red and gold tentacles in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

How Doctor Octopus May Go From Bad Guy To Good Guy In Spider-Man: No Way Home

We already know that rather than being resurrected, Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus is being snatched from the Raimiverse right before his death. But even taking that into account, if Otto was back to his normal self before dying, why would he have the urge to kill another Spider-Man upon entering the MCU? Well, as some fans noticed when watching the previous Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, Doctor Octopus’ arms are glowing red when he first shows up on that bridge, and as you’ll remember from Spider-Man 2, that color signifies they’re controlling Otto, whereas white signifies he controls the arms. So either Otto is pulled into the MCU before he takes back control of the arms, or the trip to the MCU somehow allows for the arms to start influencing him again.

That would account for Otto Octavius’ erratic behavior, which brings us to the next question: how does Doctor Octopus go from bad guy to good guy? We have may Stark technology to thank for that, because in Spider-Man: No Way Home’s newest trailer, as Doc Ock is laying the beatdown on Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, it looks like some of the Iron Spider suit gets absorbed into the arms, as evidenced by them becoming partly red and gold. It’s possible that this merging of technology leads to the AI control over Otto being overridden, and that, along with him realizing the Spider-Man he’s fighting is not his Spider-Man, is enough to snap him back to normal.

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

What Does This Mean For The Rest Of Spider-Man: No Way Home?

While we don’t know specifically how Spider-Man: No Way Home’s bridge battle concludes, we get a quick snippet of a later scene in the movie where Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, Zendaya’s MJ and Jacob Batalon’s Ned are chatting with Otto Octavius inside a prison where Doctor Strange is keeping the multiversal villains contained. We also see there, and in a few other quick shots, the red and gold color scheme is still incorporated into his tentacles, so it can be presumed that Otto will stay in his right mind for most, if not the rest of his time in the movie. We also hear Otto say this to Peter:

You’re flying out into the darkness to fight ghosts.

Doctor Strange soon clarifies that all the villains who’ve been pulled into the MCU are destined to die fighting Spider-Man, and they need to be sent back to their home universes. These baddies include Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman and Lizard (and perhaps one other individual), but in the brief looks at what’s surely Spider-Man: No Way Home’s climactic battle, Doctor Octopus is nowhere to be seen. We also know that Peter will initially try to change these villains’ fates so that they don’t have to die, but is overpowered by Doctor Strange.

So where does that leave Doctor Octopus? Two scenarios come to mind. The first is that he’ll be sent back to the Raimiverse either before any of the other villains show up, or at the very latest, before the final battle unfolds. Perhaps Peter’s brief clash with Doctor Strange and the now-clear-minded Otto passing along his own wisdom to the teen is enough to convince Peter that he needs to let destiny takes its course, so he willingly lets Otto go back to his reality before dealing with the other villains. The other possibility is that Doctor Octopus is in that final battle aiding Peter, and the trailer just didn’t show him. Although even if that latter option is indeed on the proverbial table, unless Spider-Man: No Way Home throws a major curveball our way and kills Otto during the battle, he’ll still ultimately have to “go home” and sink to his death, so it just becomes a matter of when he makes the return trip.

We’ll witness all that Spider-Man: No Way Home has in store for Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus when the movie spins its web on theaters on December 17. As we count down the remaining weeks to its release, check out our upcoming Marvel movies guide to discover what other silver screen offerings the MCU has coming up.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.