The “Spider-Man: No Way Home” Watch Order

Spider-Man No Way Home Watch Order

Spider-Man: No Way Home has clearly made a major impact in the world of comic book movies. It’s by far the biggest film of the COVID era in terms of both box office gross and hype, and would even be considered a phenomenal success without these limitations. 

So if you’re a newbie and want to get in on the fuss, where the heck do you start? What movies do you need to watch before Spider-Man: No Way Home? It’s complicated. But we’ve got you.

The Spider-Man: No Way Home box office numbers are, quite frankly, absurd. We nerds did not want to let this global cultural event get disrupted by the ongoing pandemic, so we got vaccinated, boosted, found some N95 masks, and then headed out into the world. We laughed, we cried, and we carefully tried to avoid spoiling those who weren’t ready to go out into the plague quite yet (and occasionally failed at containing those spoilers, despite our best efforts). But it’s been a few months now, so it’s time to lay it all out there and welcome the newbies into the mayhem with open arms. Come on in and join us!

As this film leans into the concept of the multiverse pretty heavily, you have the option of dipping your toe into some Netflix and Sony content. I’ve laid out five different watch orders, but I could have easily done about a dozen. I’ve narrowed it down to the four most logical orders and one personal favorite. Read the introduction of each order to choose which one is best for you. 

These different watch orders will vary greatly by both time commitment and the context they will provide for the film. There should be a good option for just about everyone. And hey, if none of these work out, you can mix and match from among them. I’ll be including enough context for you to choose your own Spider-Man watch order adventure if you don’t vibe with mine.

Please note that these watch order outlines will contain spoilers for all cameo appearances, but I will remain vague about plot elements for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Details from other films may be discussed for context with spoiler warnings for major plot elements preceding them in bold.

The three Short Watch Orders will be the barebones films to understand the plot and main characters. You can choose the MCU-focused Short Order, which will include all of his appearances in the MCU as well as Doctor Strange’s solo film. Or you can choose one of two Spider-Man focused watch orders, which bypasses the MCU exclusive content and focuses entirely on our Spider-men.

The “Short” watch orders aren’t even all that short, but it’s the shortest I could make them. Disney+ hasn’t made any Marvel Studio’s Legends episodes for this, and since most of the properties are wrapped up in other companies (Sony, Netflix), I can understand why. Unfortunately, this means you have to watch a lot more than usual. Sorry about that.

The Medium Watch Order will combine two of the short watch orders and add some additional Sony content (the Venom films). If you choose the Long Watch Order you get all of that, plus Netflix content for context about Matt Murdock.  

You have plenty of choices here, so read on to find out which one will work for your particular needs.

An Introduction to Spider-Man

Spider-man Films

Most people know the basics of the Spider-Man story. A nerdy high schooler gets bit by a radioactive spider and develops spider-like superpowers. The character has been played by three different actors in live-action films over the past twenty years: Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland.  While the first two actors had a chance to cover that basic premise, the creatives chose to bypass it with Tom Holland’s films and allow viewers to join his story a few months after he’d started using his powers.

While all three Spider-Men have very different paths, Tom Holland’s is the one that’s directly tied to the main MCU franchise. His introduction focuses on him being recruited into the Avengers during their Civil War to aid Tony Stark. Garfield’s and Maguire’s focus on their own stories as the Avengers don’t exist in their universes.

No Way Home contains bits and pieces from every Spider-Man cinematic franchise from the past 20 years, as well as characters from Sony’s ongoing Marvel projects (Eddie Brock and Venom), and Netflix (Matt Murdock). This is truly a collision of the Marvel franchises, and thus it can be very confusing. But that’s why this article exists. So let’s get to it.

Beyond Spider-Man:
MCU Complete Watch Order

This article is part of an ongoing Phase 4 series that will highlight each property in a way that makes it accessible to newbies, and also provide fun rewatch orders for long-time fans. We’ll be posting articles for all the Phase 4 content thus far, as well as suggested rewatch orders for upcoming properties. We also have the complete rewatch order, which will be updated through the year and contains a breakdown of each phase.

So stay tuned, because there’s a lot more coming after this one!

“Short” Watch Order

MCU Spider-Man Films

Who Should Watch:  New fans who want to know the very basic MCU content required for this film. Long-time fans wanting a shorter rewatch.

I’m putting “Short” in quotes here because it’s not really all that short. While my other short-watch order suggestions for other properties tend to include Marvel Studio’s Legends episodes, those aren’t available here. That said, you can probably get through this list in a week if you watch just one film a day. Or, if you’re like me, just about two days… because we have no self-control and must binge-watch everything.

As I alluded to earlier, this watch order contains only the MCU content. You will understand the very basics of the movie, including the main characters and ongoing plot elements, but will be lost on the Sony and Netflix cameos. If you’re okay with not having Big Feels every time a cameo happens, this watch order is fine. If you want to know why all of us long-time fans braved a pandemic just to cry in a movie theater with a bunch of strangers every time a random actor appeared on screen, maybe choose a Medium or Long watch order.

Watch Order

  • Captain America: Civil War

Spider-man

This is Tom Holland’s first official appearance as Spider-Man. The film is set up assuming you already know his basic backstory (bit by a spider, etc.) and don’t necessarily need it to be rehashed for you. It throws him right into a big huge mess with the Avengers before he even gets to have his own solo film. For most people, this isn’t a problem. You should be fine jumping right in here. 

  • Doctor Strange

Spider-Man isn’t in this film, but Doctor Strange is. He’s the second lead of No Way Home so it’s incredibly helpful to understand his character. Despite some of the problematic elements of the film (whitewashed casting, the ‘mighty whitey’ trope), it’s still generally a quality film and sets up important elements of the MCU as we head into Phase Four.

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

Homecoming is the first Spider-Man solo film in the MCU! It really establishes who our Peter is and introduces us to his important group of friends that will follow him through his entire trilogy.

  • Avengers: Infinity War

This and Endgame seem to be on every single watch list I’ve made, and with good reason. These two films wrap up the Infinity Saga and set up Phase Four. They are constantly referenced in basically everything that has come out since.

  • Avengers: Endgame

 

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

This film is still technically part of Phase Three, but the Infinity Saga has basically been wrapped up from a narrative perspective at this point. It also further solidifies Peter’s group of friends and romantic interest, which are incredibly important to understand for No Way Home.

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

You’ve made it!

“Short” Watch Order

Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order

Who Should Watch: New fans that wish to understand all three Spider-Men. Old fans who want to relive this 20-year journey or may have missed some of this along the way.

This is a very basic watch order for all three Spider-Men. In the weeks leading up to No Way Home, this is the watch order most fans did to prepare for the film. Obviously, it’s a great one! But I did something a little different, which I’ll outline in Option 2.

It’s important to note that this and the second variant of this order only contains Spider-Man solo films. It doesn’t include the expanded MCU content from the first short order. As such, you won’t be getting any Doctor Strange or Endgame context, like the first Short Order contains.

The Medium Order includes everything except for the Netflix content (which only impacts one single scene), so feel free to hop on down to that one instead if that’s important to you. And, of course, if you want everything, including Netflix, please choose the Long Order.  

For the rest of you who are just here for Spider-Man, let’s get to it…

The Tobey Maguire Films

  • Spider-Man (2002)

This is the classic “bit by a spider, develops powers” origin story. If you didn’t know the story before, well, now you know. But you’ll get a different version of it a bit later so stick around.  

While Tobey Maguire isn’t the first person to ever play Spider-Man, his portrayal certainly opened the flood gates for the mainstreaming of classic superheroes. This film holds a special place in the heart of every millennial who used it as a gateway into the wider comic book world. Myself included.

  • Spider-Man 2

At the time, this was considered the BEST superhero film. It has a tight plot, great effects (Doc Ock still looks amazing even all these years later), a compelling antagonist, and fantastic fight scenes. In my opinion, it’s the strongest of the Maguire films. Up until the MCU really started hitting its stride, this was my favorite superhero film of all time.

  • Spider-Man 3

This film was mostly panned at the time. It’s overstuffed with villains and doesn’t do justice to one of the most popular villains, Venom. Additionally, the symbiote-bonded Peter Parker mostly came off as goofy and not emotionally impactful. The film’s reputation over the years hasn’t been good, though many still love it for its campiness. 

There’s still important parts of this film that made it into No Way Home, so you should watch it anyway. Just don’t take yourself too seriously while watching it and enjoy the ride for what it is.

The Andrew Garfield Films

  • The Amazing Spider-Man

Here we are again, watching Peter Parker get bit by a spider and fumble through the first moments of having powers. But this time it’s Andrew Garfield!

If you’re thinking you don’t need to watch this origin story play out twice, you’re wrong. While the basic premise is the same, a lot of what goes on around him is vastly different. The villains, his love interest, and Peter’s general personality all differ from Maguire’s version of the character. While I was generally critical of rebooting Spider-Man so soon after the Maguire films, I’m really grateful they did it. Garfield is phenomenal.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Of all the Spider-Man films, this is my favorite. It was for many (up until No Way Home) the most heartbreaking Spider-Man film of them all. I know I say “bring tissues” a lot in an attempt to prepare you for Major Sads, but I mean it. This one is gonna hurt. Brace yourself accordingly.

There’s parts of this film that are absolutely vital to understanding the emotional context of certain No Way Home scenes, so don’t even think about skipping it. I promise you that the payoff will be worth the emotional pain you have to endure here. And truly, it is a lot to endure.

The Tom Holland Films

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

And now you’re ready for Tom Holland. This is his first solo film, and since we’re not focusing on the MCU side of things here, there’s a bit of context missing, especially surrounding his relationship to Tony Stark. That said, it still works. You just need to know that Tony Stark and the Avengers exist, Peter has worked alongside them, and then you’ll be good to go.

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Without seeing Infinity War and Endgame, this one can be a tad confusing at times. If you’re really in a crunch for time and/or don’t want to subject yourself to the Major Sads of those two films, this is still doable without them. All you need to know is that (spoiler for Infinity War and Endgame) there was an incident, referred to as ‘The Blip’ or ‘The Snap,’ that caused half of every living thing to vanish for five years. They all came back, but a lot of heroes died in order to make that happen. A lot of Phase Four deals with the emotional fall out of that catastrophe, including this film.

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

And here we are. You’ve made it!

“Short” Watch Order

Spider-Man Films Option 2: The Spider-Man Experience

Who Should Watch: The same people who wanted to watch the Spider-Man Films Option 1 order, but think I have a neat twist on it.

This is my own special twist on the above watch order. While everyone was focused on the release date order, I sort of shuffled them around. I watched all their first films, then their second films, and then the third. Except for Andrew Garfield who, of course, doesn’t have a third film. Yet.  

Watching it in this way allows some interesting opportunities to compare and contrast the three different versions of the character and the acting choices each of them made. You can even imagine how the different versions would deal with the challenges the other ones are facing, and since you’re watching them all shuffled together, you’ll have a constant refresher on the differences between them. I very much enjoyed being able to experience their stories parallel like this, and maybe you will too.

Whether you choose this one or the more standard one is entirely up to you. For the Medium Order and Long Order, I will use the standard release date order as a default, but by all means, feel free to shuffle them around if you choose to. I’ll go over how you can tweak them in the intro for each of those orders.

Watch Order

  • Spider-Man (2002)

An awkward teenager played by Tobey Maguire gets bit by a radioactive spider. Have fun!

  • The Amazing Spider-Man

An awkward teenager played by Andrew Garfield gets bit by a radioactive spider. But now you can compare and contrast how the two played the characters with this same basic premise.

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

We don’t have to go through that story for the third time. Now you know how it all began and we can jump right into Tom Holland’s version of the character. 

  • Spider-Man 2

This film has one of the most popular villains of any of the Spider-Man films, Doc Ock, who is central to No Way Home

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

This is the most painful and emotional Spider-Man film, in my opinion. Even more painful than No Way Home (though I’m sure this will probably be a hotly debated opinion). It’s absolutely vital to understand the emotional impact of certain scenes in No Way Home.

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Like I mentioned in the Option 1 order, some of this film will be a bit confusing without seeing Infinity War and Endgame, but it’s still doable. Just to reiterate the point I made earlier, all you need to know is that (spoiler for Infinity War and Endgame) there was an incident, referred to as ‘The Blip’ or ‘The Snap,’ that caused half of every living thing to vanish for five years. They all came back, but a lot of heroes died in order to make that happen.

  • Spider-Man 3

This is by far the weakest Spider-Man film, but one of the villains pops up in No Way Home so it’s still worth a watch.

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

You’ve made it!  Congratulations. 

Medium Watch Order

The Venom Variant

Who Should Watch: New fans who want most of the context required to be excited about the film. Old fans who may have missed something along the way.

This watch order is generally a mix of the MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order and the Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order, with the Venom films added in. Venom only appears in one brief scene, but without context it’s very confusing. 

I’ve chosen the Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order instead of my own variant of it because it’s much more standard. It also gets a little complicated after The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where we get into MCU content. You can still switch up the Maguire and Garfield films and switch back and forth if you want to, but the Holland films need to be watched in the order outlined below.

This order will give you the context you need for all the Sony and standard MCU content, minus the Netflix shows. Like Venom, the character from the Netflix show, Matt Murdock, only appears in one scene, but it’s not nearly as confusing as Venom’s. Venom largely carries his scene on his own, whereas Murdock interacts with established characters, so it’s not as jarring to lack context for him. You can kind of put together that something is up with him, but you just don’t get confirmation about what that something is.

That said, if you want all the context, watch the Long Watch Order. That one’s going to take you a while, though. The choice is yours.

Watch Order

  • Spider-Man (2002)

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

Venom Symbrock
Eddie Brock and Venom, played by Tom Hardy
  • Spider-Man 2

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man 3

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • Captain America: Civil War

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Doctor Strange

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Avengers: Infinity War

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Avengers: Endgame

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

Venom Content

  • Venom

This is the first new film on this combination list. While the Venom films aren’t absolutely crucial to understanding No Way Home, it certainly helps understand his cameo. Besides, these are excellent films. The biggest criticism of the films is that it’s a bit campy, but if you don’t like camp, superhero films in general are probably a major turn-off for you anyway. 

Honestly, these two films gave me everything I could want from them and I couldn’t recommend them any more strongly. Even if you weren’t trying to understand his cameo, I’d recommend watching them. They are fantastic.

I’ve placed these films here because they seem to flow directly into No Way Home, but since they aren’t part of the official MCU timeline it’s hard to say if this fits here perfectly chronologically. Just remember to stay for all the end credit scenes and you’ll understand what I mean by this.

  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Like No Way Home, I was so very much excited about this film that I braved the pandemic to go see it. If you loved the first film, you’ll probably love the second film. It’s more of that, but, like, campier and gayer (and yes, that’s an important thing for me).

I’ve only seen a small handful of people who loved the first film who didn’t like the second. Most of us absolutely adored it. You probably will too.

Back to Spider-Man & the MCU

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

And here we are again. You’ve made it to No Way Home and should understand almost everything. Almost.

Super Long Watch Order

Matt Murdock, Et Al

Who Should Watch: Anyone that wants 100% of the context for No Way Home and has a lot of time on their hands.

This is basically the same as the Medium Watch Order, but with the addition of the Daredevil and Defenders series for all your Matt Murdock context needs. Murdock is only in one scene of the film, so it’s not at all required to understand what’s going on. So if watching four seasons of Netflix shows to understand one scene is a bit too much for you, I’d choose the Medium Watch Order. You’ll probably be fine without this, honestly. 

That said, the cameo is absolutely fantastic, though. And this was the second indicator that the Netflix content was canon within the MCU. The first sign came just two days prior to No Way Home’s release date in the series Hawkeye. Yes, these two cameos were only two days apart. Because of the pandemic, I can’t be entirely sure that timing was intentional, but it sure worked out rather nicely.

Please note that Daredevil and other Marvel content on Netflix will be removed on February 28th, 2022. If you are reading this article after that date, but before we know where they’ll be headed (Disney+ maybe?), I apologize for the inconvenience. As soon as we know more I’ll come back here and edit those details.

Update: The Netflix properties have been mostly moved over to Disney+ now. Happy watching!

Watch Order

  • Spider-Man (2002)

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox
  • Spider-Man 2

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man 3

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

See Spider-Man Films Option 1: Release Order notes for details.

  • Captain America: Civil War

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

Netflix Content

  • Daredevil Seasons 1-3 (Netflix)

Chronologically, most of the Netflix content takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. However, some of the things that make this placement crucial are only in films that aren’t on any of the watch orders here (the first Avengers film, for example). So technically you could move these shows around between the other films on the list with very little impact. You can see the full watch order here.

Once you understand Matt Murdock, you don’t have to necessarily continue watching the show. It’s a pretty darn good show, though, so you’ll probably want to continue once you begin. You can even try out the other Netflix characters if you’re really digging it. They’re pretty popular in their own right.

  • The Defenders (Netflix)

This one is entirely optional. If you want the full Matt Murdock experience, you can continue with this series. It has other characters from different Netflix properties, though, so you may want to dive into those as well. If this opens up a world of Netflix content for you, awesome. But if you don’t make it to this series and only see some of Daredevil to understand the Matt Murdock cameo, you’ll be just fine. Murdock is the important one for the time being. But honestly, who knows how the Multiverse is going to play out. Future watch orders are going to get hella complicated.

Back to the MCU and Venom Content Watch Orders

  • Doctor Strange

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Avengers: Infinity War

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Avengers: Endgame

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

See MCU Spider-Man Films Watch Order notes for details.

  • Venom

See Medium Watch Order- The Venom Variant notes for details.

  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage

See Medium Watch Order- The Venom Variant notes for details.

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

And here we are, weeks (months? years?) later, and you know everything you need to to understand this film.

Now You’re Ready for Spider-Man: No Way Home

Whichever watch order you’ve chosen, I hope you feel prepared going into the film now. I know this is a lot and a bit overwhelming, but hopefully, you’ll be less confused than you were before. If you choose to stick around, these films will probably be the best ones to prepare you for the rest of Phase Four, particularly the Long Order. The Multiverse has been established and everything is absolutely wild.

Happy watching!

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.


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