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Spider-Man: No Way Home had a brilliant marketing campaign before spoilers ruined it

A scene from Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer

Spider-Man: No Way Home opens in theaters this weekend, although the first screenings are already underway. Some countries started playing the highly anticipated Marvel movie on Wednesday. This is the MCU movie every Marvel fan is dying to see in large part thanks to the massive marketing campaign. We’re talking about Holland-Maguire-Garfield speculation that set the internet ablaze for the better part of the year. Spidey fans are divided between two camps, the ones who think the former actors will cameo in the movie and those who think it’s just wishful thinking.

It turns out that Sony and Marvel had a brilliant marketing plan for No Way Home, one they never got to actually take advantage of because of the many leaks. We’ll warn you that some spoilers might follow below. You’ll want to check our spoiler-free Spider-Man: No Way Home review instead if you don’t want to get into the spoilery stuff.

The big Spider-Man leaks

Everyone involved in No Way Home has had to answer the same questions about the movie all year long. And everyone offered denials when asked whether Maguire and Garfield are in the film. But all that online chatter, which resembled what happened in the year preceding the Avengers: Endgame premiere, increased fan interest in the movie.

This is the underground No Way Home marketing campaign I was talking about. Sony and Marvel made little effort to promote the film in the second half of the year. The first trailer dropped in late August after leaking online first. Trailer 2 arrived on November 15th during a special screening. That’s when the press interviews started, and Sony and Marvel kicked off No Way Home marketing in earnest.

By then, however, fans were probably convinced they needed to see the movie as soon as humanly possible. That’s also because we’ve witnessed an increasing number of leaks since late August that confirmed the film’s big spoilers.

Sony and Marvel decided not to address the rumors. They did not feature Maguire or Garfield in the last trailer or in any of the many TV spots and full scene releases. Furthermore, the former Spider-Man actors did not appear during the press tour. That said, Garfield still had to field plenty of No Way Home questions as he was promoting his other 2021 movies.

Meanwhile, Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, and Benedict Cumberbatch had to keep dodging the Maguire-Garfield questions, sometimes with hilarious results.

Spider-Man fighting Doctor StrangeImage source: Sony

The original No Way Home marketing plan

But it turns out that Sony and Marvel had a brilliant marketing plan for No Way Home. The news comes from the same Holland, who spoke to Yahoo Entertainment UK on Monday, the film’s red carpet premiere.

“We’re pretty tired of constantly lying and deceiving people. I feel like conscience is weighing on me now. It’s tough,” Holland said. Zendaya agreed that it would have been “exhausting” to keep all the villains secret. That’s the brilliant part of the initial marketing plan, however.

“Remember when that was the initial marketing plan? Holland asked his co-star. “The initial plan was to make the film seem like a civil war between myself and Doctor Strange, and they were gonna keep everything a secret. That is impossible.”

Sony and Marvel showed Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) in the first No Way Home trailer and teased four other villains. We then saw the villains in full in many of the clips that followed. We speculated after the first trailer that the only reason why Sony and Marvel showed Molina’s iconic villain was because of what the actor had said earlier this year. He spilled the multiverse secret in an interview several months ago, explaining how Doc Ock returns to life in No Way Home.

That was probably the moment that ruined the original No Way Home marketing campaign. Molina interview aside, all the other massive No Way Home leaks that followed since the first trailer dropped would have crippled the “Civil War” marketing idea.

That said, the trailers did include a part of that idea, showing Strange and Holland’s Peter Parker fight in the city streets and then in the Mirror Dimension. We won’t spoil how the Strange vs. Spider-Man battle concludes. It’s safe to say that it’s a highlight of the film.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.