​​How Is Alfred Molina Returning As Doc Ock in 'Spider-Man: No Way Home'?

Marvel released the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer this August. For fans who have not been following the many spoilers from the movie, this promo contained a huge surprise.

At the end of the trailer, a robotic tentacle smashed into screen, and it was soon revealed that it belonged to Dr. Otto Octavius (played by Alfred Molina), the villain from 2004's Spider-Man 2.

This may raise a lot of questions to comic-book movie fans. How is Dr. Ock in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) now after appearing in the Sony Spider-Man movies?

How does he recognise this Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) when he has only met the one played by Tobey Maguire? And how is he still alive after sacrificing himself at the end of Spider-Man 2?

Here's what we know so far about the answers to all those questions.

How Is Dr. Octopus Joining the MCU?

The answer to this one is the most clear, as it is partly explained in the trailer, as well as in another recent part of the MCU?

In the trailer, we see Peter approach Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to ask him to cast a spell to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man. The world found out his secret in the previous film Spider-Man: Far From Home after it was revealed by Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).

In the trailer, it is implied that this spell went so wrong that it cracked the walls between worlds, opening up the multiverse of parallel universes.

These walls were already fragile thanks to the events of Disney+'s Loki, where the prime timeline splintered into multiple diverging timelines.

As for how this brings Doc Ock into the MCU, it seems that the film is setting up as canon that the three cinematic Spider-Man actors (Holland, Maguire and Andrew Garfield) all live in their own parallel universes and timelines: and that thanks to Strange's spell and the events of Loki, these worlds are crashing into each other, bringing together all the many spidey villains from across the multiverse.

In the trailer, for example, we also see a green bomb which seems to hint at the return of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, while Jamie Foxx was previously confirmed to be appearing as Electro again.

dr octopus spiderman no way home
Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus in "Spider-Man 2." The character is confirmed to be appearing in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Sony

How Does Doc Ock Recognise Tom Holland's Peter Parker?

This is less certain, though a major fan rumor may give us our answer.

According to much speculation, not only are previous Spidey baddies returning, but so too are Maguire and Garfield.

As such, what we saw in the trailer could be a little bit of sneaky editing to hide the reveal of Garfield and Maguire's return. Doc Ock could really recognise the Maguire Spider-Man, but the trailer has been edited together to make it seem like he is talking to Holland.

Why Isn't Dr Otto Octavius Dead?

With this question, Marvel could of course do all sorts of sci-fi plotting to bring Octavius back—maybe the reversal of the Snap brought a few people back that it should not have, for example, or maybe Dr. Strange's spell has also changed the course of history in other worlds.

What is noticeable, however, is that the Doc Ock we see in the trailer looks noticeably deaged—either that, or the past 17 years have been very, very kind to the 68-year-old Alfred Molina.

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Molina confirmed that his character was de-aged in No Way Home in a Variety interview in April. He recounted a conversation with director Jon Watts where he said he would do for his character, "what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson."

He also revealed that his storyline in the new movie would pick up from "that moment" when he died in the film, suggesting that it is at this point that he gets pulled into the MCU.

What is less certain, however, is whether Maguire's Peter Parker, if he is in the movie, will also be de-aged or whether he will be playing an older Spider-Man whose timeline intersects with the plot of the movie at a later date.