The Jewish connections in Marvel’s new “Spider-Man: No Way Home” movie


Marvel/Sony Pictures

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man went from being a rookie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to currently sitting as one of its longest-standing (and still alive) superheroes, but he’s about to welcome in some unsavory company this holiday season.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” arriving in theaters on Dec. 17,  follows the just okay “Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings” and the very underwhelming “Eternals” in theaters. Let’s hope it recaptures the magic that the MCU has delivered on for the past 13 years. The latest and final trailer for the new Spidey adventure hits the internet Wednesday, and it showed off some true Jewish connections, including a notable antagonist from its cinema past.

That would be Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto Octavius, who battled Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker back in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” in 2004. Molina, who played Tevye in a Broadway version of “Fiddler,” reenters the Spidey verse due to events that took place at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in 2019.

Spider man clip
Marvel/Sony Pictures Releasing

Due to the identity of Parker’s alter ego being released to the world by Jake Gyllenhaal’s now-extinguished villain, the young web-slinger asked his world-saving pal Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help cast a spell that would erase the connection between Parker and his alias. Things go wrong, the multiverse is opened, and old bad guys come back to play.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

One of the good guys helping Parker will be Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, another MCU staple who also directed two “Iron Man” movies. It’s Favreau that always provides comic relief amid the superhero chaos in these movies, with his Jewish sense of humor lightening the mood. The returning players also include Molina’s Doc Ock, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and possibly Maguire and fellow Parker player, Andrew Garfield.

Of course, one would be remiss to not mention the creator of all these sophisticated superhuman (mostly) souls: Stan Lee. The comic book writer and illustrator was born to a Romanian-Jewish family, and the adversity he faced as a teenager and young adult-led him to team up with other comic writers and create these illustrious heroes. Lee’s mark can be felt on nearly all the MCU films, which included witty cameos from him in a variety of roles. Without Lee, the MCU wouldn’t even exist. That’s a legacy.

On the flip side of the coin is Amy Pascal, the Sony studio chairholder who oversees the current collaboration between Sony and Marvel for the rights of the characters. It was only a couple of years ago when the future of Holland’s (who I think is the best overall Spider-Man) crime-fighter was in doubt due to negotiations between the Sony board and Marvel C.E.O. Kevin Feige. It’s Pascal, who was born to a Jewish family, who was a part of the board that nearly crushed and later revived the franchise partnership.

Maybe she and others just got out of Marvel’s way, and it’s a wise move. After all, the two movies starring Holland have grossed over a combined $1.9 billion at the box office. If Pascal and company were smart, they’d hand the keys over to Feige and just keep receiving checks.

The Jewish connections run through Spider-Man’s DNA constantly: the young soul destined for greatness against all odds, a regular human transformed into something truly special. A Stan Lee creation that is still paying dividends for movie audiences will see its world collapse onto itself next month.

On Dec. 17, Peter Parker faces his biggest threat yet in a Christmas blockbuster that includes Jewish links at its inception, production, and distribution.

Can Spidey topple the competition and return the MCU to box office-grossing power after the “Eternals” misfire? Judging from the last two films, I’d say that’s a good bet.