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No Way Home Should Acknowledge Doc Ock’s Biggest Spider-Man 2 Moment

Doc Ock is Spider-Man: No Way Home’s center of interest in the trailer. However, there is one element of the character that the film needs to address.

The first Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer brought with it a lot of surprises. But one moment, in particular, had fans reeling with excitement. Toward the end of the teaser, in a scene that had Tom Holland’s Peter Parker standing on a bridge, a familiar mechanical arm appears. Moments later, a de-aged Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus emerges from the smoke, greeting Peter.

It was a significant reveal, as not only did it mark the first time Molina took on the role since 2004, but it also teased what fans could expect from the multiverse. And with Molina confirming that he is playing the same character from the original Spider-Man trilogy, expectations are understandably high. However, as exciting as this reveal is, this does leave some concern in relation to where Spider-Man 2 had left this character, and what it could mean for his story arc.

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In Spider-Man 2, Otto Octavius is given a redemption arc that suited his character. In the closing moments of the final battle, Ock breaks free of the mechanical arms’ corruption, and Peter convinces him to help stop the fusion reactor before things get worse. When he realizes that it can’t be stopped, Otto chooses to sacrifice himself by drowning the machine in the river. He pulls this off successfully, and the last time the viewer sees him, he and the fusion reactor are sinking to the bottom of the river.

There is one key line of dialogue during his final moments, however, that really stands out, as it defines the character’s entire story arc up until that point. While he is destroying the beams that hold up the reactor, he proclaims, “I will not die a monster.” It is a powerful line that highlights the importance of his sacrifice. By choosing to help Peter destroy the fusion reactor, he is giving himself back his humanity, which he had been robbed of the moment the arms corrupted his mind. It serves as an important reminder that Ock was never really a villain, just a scientist blinded by his desire to better the world.

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Alfred Molina As Doctor Octopus

This emphasis on Doc Ock’s humanity is something Spider-Man: No Way Home cannot afford to ignore. His role as the tragic figure corrupted by his own invention was integral to his story arc in Spider-Man 2, and to portray him in any other way would be dishonest to the character. If this is, indeed, the same Doc Ock variant viewers followed 17 years ago, then his character development must transfer over with him in some way. Making him purely evil or giving him a motivation that does not match what was previously known about him would only prove to be detrimental to the character, especially if there isn’t a very good explanation to back it up.

That is not to say that seeing Alfred Molina back in the role of Doc Ock wouldn’t be satisfying either way. His portrayal of the character is iconic no matter what the context, and seeing him take on the role once more will be a dream come true for many fans. But it would be a missed opportunity not to utilize the character’s nuanced backstory and motivation at some point in the film, even if it is only briefly hinted at.

To see if Doc Ock is once again redeemed, Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters Dec. 17. 

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