The evening of Dec. 16, 2021, moviegoers and comic book lovers around the world packed into cinemas — many masked, and many for the first time in more than two years — to see a live-action comic book adventure 20 years in the making. Those audiences got to experience a moment of movie history together, as (spoiler alert, I suppose we must say) actors Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland appeared on screen together, all reprising the role of Peter Parker in Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Following months of anticipation, rumors, and fan theories, the ambitious crossover paid off at the box office, becoming — at the time of writing — the sixth-highest grossing movie of all time.
To achieve the level of anticipation that Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios wanted for No Way Home, the movie was shrouded in a level of secrecy perhaps only matched by 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. That means the consumer products for No Way Home had to focus on very few known elements of the movie: mostly Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, his friends, and Doctor Strange.
Without being able to tap into the multiverse elements of the film, many collectibles companies leaned into the multiple suits that Holland’s Peter Parker would wear throughout the movie. Some suits, like the Iron Spider Armor, were familiar to fans. Others — namely the black-and-gold suit that was made into a Jumbo Funko Pop!, a Hot Toys 1:6-scale figure, and a Marvel Legends figure — were more of a mystery.
Andy Smith, public relations manager for Sideshow.com, says the multiple suits in the movie — and consequently in the collectibles — mirror the journey Peter Parker has been on since Captain America: Civil War. “In the cinematic universe, we’ve seen Peter grow just as his suits have evolved — from his homemade costume to his first Stark Industries suit, complete with ‘training wheels protocol,’ to his epic Iron Spider Armor and beyond,” Smith says. “For us as collectors, it’s a thrill to be able to own and display all these incredible suits and to geek out over the intricate details that we may have missed watching the action in the movie theaters.”
Jason Bischoff, the director of global licensing and business development at Funko — and a Spider-Man fan himself — says that making Pop! figures for the new suits was an obvious step for Funko. “Funko exists at the crossroads of ‘everyone’s favorite stuff.’ How could we not be there to support Spidey and his fans at this critical moment in time?” says Bischoff, who also highlights Funko’s commitment to not spoiling things for its fans. “But seriously, No Way Home is chock-full of adventure and newness, not the least of which are Spidey’s incredible suits. That gave us a great platform to start.”
The prerelease merchandise for No Way Home also leaned into Spider-Man’s legacy, both within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and beyond. LEGO, for example, released a series of building sets with No Way Home branding that re-created scenes from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), in addition to a “Spider-Man at the Sanctum Workshop” set that actually took inspiration from No Way Home.
According to LEGO Senior Design Manager Jesper Nielsen, the purpose of these throwback sets was two-fold. First, and perhaps most obviously, these sets avoided spoiling anything about No Way Home for fans. But he says they also allow fans — especially kids — to revisit and reimagine their favorite Spider-Man moments. “Naturally, a movie timeline is dynamic and much can be done in the editing room,” Nielsen says. “Our editing room is the kid’s room, where stories can take yet another unexpected turn.”
And there is certainly plenty of Spider-Man history to tap into outside of Tom Holland’s portrayal, too. In the months leading up to No Way Home’s debut, plenty of more generic Spider-Man products became available, including a collection of Spider-Man drinkware from Corkcicle (as part of its larger Marvel collection); Spider-Man Vol. 1. 1962–1964, a hardcover anthology from Taschen that features the first 21 Spider-Man comic book stories; and a collection of Spider-Man apparel from Her Universe.
And the fan demand for all things Spidey was certainly strong, according to Diamond Select Toys (DST) Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat. In addition to a shopDisney-exclusive Marvel Select No Way Home figure of Spider-Man’s black-and-gold suit, DST offers a wide variety of other Spider-Man collectibles, including busts, dioramas, and statues inspired by Spider-Man comics, video games, and more. Oat says the company saw a definitive increase in demand for all things Spider-Man leading up to the release of No Way Home. “We’ve been selling out on our website, just because everyone loves Spidey,” he says.
So why is it that fans and collectors love this web-slinging hero so much? Oat emphasizes the character’s down-to-Earth, human experience. “He’s not rich like Iron Man, a god like Thor, or an aloof surgeon like Doctor Strange,” he says. “He’s just a kid from Queens who lost his parents and lives in an apartment with his aunt. Plus, his costume is one of the coolest ever designed. In comics, that counts for a lot.”
Bischoff also credits the talented teams who have made the hero’s journey so compelling. “The creatives working on Spider-Man films, series, comics, and everything else are master storytellers, and those stories are bigger than any one beat in time,” he says. “Brand affinity for Spider-Man has been on a steady incline for years with broadening consumer appeal, and we’re excited to be part of that story going into this year’s plans.”
But what are those plans exactly? That’s still a secret. At the time of writing, most companies are still staying tight-lipped about any No Way Home products that may be yet to come, as fans eagerly await merchandise featuring the multiple Spider-Men and multidimensional villains that truly skyrocketed No Way Home to its record-breaking success. (As with many well-kept cinematic secrets, production of action figures and other merchandise featuring key reveals for this movie was likely held off in an attempt to prevent leaks.)
Now, a slow trickle of spoiler-filled merch is finally making its way to virtual shelves, starting with on-demand T-shirts from shopDisney that feature all three Spider-Men, the lineup of multiverse villains, and Matt Murdock (Daredevil), who also made an appearance in the film. Rock ‘em Socks, too, has some multiverse merch offerings available, perhaps most notably a pair of socks with an illustration of the three Spider-Men and the phrase “I love you guys,” which pays homage to a touching — and, according to Andrew Garfield, improvised — moment from the end of No Way Home.
“For us, it’s about finding the right products that bring the epic nature of this latest adventure to life in the most authentic way possible so that everyone can engage with the story and its characters long after the credits roll.”
— Paul Gitter, Marvel Licensing
Although they couldn’t comment on additional No Way Home merch specifically, Hasbro’s marketing team notes that the Marvel Legends line has a long history with Spider-Man movies, starting with Spider-Man 3 back in 2007, and that the collection often revisits old Marvel movies for new collectibles. “Almost anything is possible in the future…” says a representative for the team. “As fans ourselves, we look forward to tackling the future — and perhaps the past — of Spider-Man!”
And fans can be sure that Marvel is hard at work, too. Paul Gitter, senior vice president of Marvel licensing, says the team is constantly evolving its Spider-Man products and experiences to resonate with both new and long-time Spidey fans. “For us, it’s about finding the right products that bring the epic nature of this latest adventure to life in the most authentic way possible so that everyone can engage with the story and its characters long after the credits roll,” he says.
As Tom Holland said when speaking to Marvel.com about No Way Home, this movie celebrates three generations of cinema. As fans continue to enjoy the spectacle of No Way Home, and as the iconic superhero swings into his 60th-anniversary celebration this year, we may be looking at our most Spidey-filled year yet. And we can’t wait.
This article was originally published in Issue No. 12 of the Pop Insider. Click here to read the full issue!