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During the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange informed his new colleagues that he would let each of them die rather than let Thanos get his hands on the Time Stone he was sworn to protect. It was only when Strange foresaw that the only path to ultimate victory was to give up the Time Stone that he did so.
Based on our knowledge of Doctor Strange’s dedication to his responsibilities, this leaves us with two potential explanations. The first is that Doctor Strange was planning on manipulating the multiverse anyway (perhaps to investigate the damage done to it by Wanda Maximoff and Loki in their respective Disney+ series) and he’s just letting Peter Parker in on the ride to appease him. The other explanation is the more sinister: that’s not Doctor Strange…it’s Mephisto.
Lest you think we’re pulling Mephisto out of thin nerd air (again), Spider-Man: No Way Home’s plot appears to be drawing a little inspiration from an existing Spider-Man comic run that just happens to feature the big red baddie. Spider-Man: One More Day was a four-part comic series in 2007. On a logistical level, the story was designed to consolidate the three ongoing Spidey comics (The Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and The Sensational Spider-Man) into just one (The Amazing Spider-Man). In reality, however, it was an attempt from Marvel editor Joe Quesada to divorce Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson because he’s a monster who hates love.
To that end One More Day picks up after the events of Civil War where Peter Parker has revealed his identity and Aunt May is slowly dying of a gunshot wound. To save Aunt May’s life, Peter seeks all manner of magical assistance (including from Doctor Strange, who declines his request). Eventually Peter encounters the satanic Mephisto, who says he can save Aunt May. In return he wants not Peter’s soul – but his marriage with Mary Jane. They accept the demon’s offer and life continues on…shittily. This was not a much-loved comic.
This is all to say that some base-level similarities between Spider-Man: No Way Home and Spider-Man: One More Day are unavoidable. To regain his secret identity, Peter will have to give up Michelle. Perhaps Doctor Strange will be revealed as Mephisto in disguise this time around. Or perhaps we’ll be wrong again. In that case, we’ll at least be less wrong than we were during the Great WandaVision Delirium of 2021.
Source: Den of Geek