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A main event in Spider-Man: No Way Home is that Dr. Strange casts a spell to make people forget Spider-Man is Peter Parker. But surely it was documented in some way, e.g. recordings of the Daily Bugle, old newspapers, people sending emails and texts.

Question: Are there no written records of Spider-Man's identity?

Maybe this was explained somewhere in the movie, but I missed it.

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    Why would a spell be powerful enough to alter people's memories, but not alter physical documentation?
    – BCdotWEB
    Dec 18, 2021 at 7:20

5 Answers 5

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Written records of Spider-Man's identity are shown on screen - the beginning of the film is JJJ broadcasting Spider-Man's identity in video and we see it echoed in other media, the school wall display, and Flash's book.

It's implied that the spell wipes that all out. No idea how that works beyond "A wizard did it"

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Before No Way Home? Yes, most undoubtedly, as mentioned in the answer above. After? There should be none.

While Doctor Strange repeatedly mentions everyone forgetting that Peter Parker is the Spider-Man, I would perhaps phrase it as undoing the knowledge of Spider-Man's identity by removing anything related that would implicate him, which includes people's memories, but also physical items.

It is very difficult to imagine what the extent of removed/modified things would have to be, but then again, it's magic, so...

Frankly, the magic executed at the end of the film, where everyone forgets Peter Parker's very existence, is even more problematic. Let's say everyone forgets about him, he disappears from all pictures, videos, audio and written records. Alright, that's pretty complicated in itself because it raises questions about whether the records as a whole would cease to exist or if they would end up modified in some fashion to make up for the lack of a certain Peter Parker. Then, what happens to all of his material possessions? Do they simply vanish? I doubt it because he can be seen carrying of box of, presumably his, items into his flat. However, what if someone else who used to know him encountered those items? Wouldn't that cause them some confusion? This trope of people slowly realizing that someone/something is missing based on a lack of knowledge about certain things/events appears very commonly in movies that play with the idea of time travel and Butterfly Effect, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it appear here as well. Unfortunately, this kind of magic that effectively plays with the space-time continuum is incredibly vague and left to the viewer's imagination.

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  • +1 Some good comments here. I'm reminded of similar issues with Yesterday movies.stackexchange.com/questions/102274/… Dec 19, 2021 at 9:08
  • The trailer at the end of the credits seems to imply that the ramifications of this are not ignored by the writers, that Dr. Strange's use of the spell breaks reality enough to lead directly to a chaotic multiversal mess he has to deal with. Dec 19, 2021 at 14:24
  • @MasonWheeler Well, what we see in trailers often ends up having a completely different context in the movies, as was the case with the Mirror Dimension stunts in No Way Home, which seemed like they were happening in the real world in the trailer (at least in my mind). However, I hope you are right.
    – natiiix
    Dec 20, 2021 at 1:13
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Documents and information have been 'magically redacted'

In an interview with Variety, screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna discuss the fallout of Dr Strange's spell:

Since Holland’s Peter still exists in the MCU, his decision has a litany of wide-ranging — and persnickety — problems attached to it: Does this mean all records of him are gone too? Does he still have a social security number? Are the photos of MJ and Ned gone from his phone? And so on.

Asked about these questions, McKenna and Sommers grimace.

“This is the first time that we’ve ever discussed this,” Sommers deadpans.

In truth, the filmmaking team talked at length about the implications of the anti-Peter spell and how the movie could address them. “We were like, do we do a ‘Back to the Future’ kind of thing where you see him fading out of photos?” Sommers says. “Does he still have a driver’s license or a passport? It just led to more questions.”

So they punted. “We decided, let’s try to do it in the most satisfying way and just focus on the emotion of it,” Sommers says. “And then if people have questions about some of those details that didn’t get answered here, we’ll answer them hopefully in another movie somewhere down the line.”

“Obviously, some sort of magical redaction has occurred,” McKenna adds. “At the end of all this, we didn’t want a lot of people trying to do magical math in their head.”

Pascal suggested looking to the 1978 Warren Beatty comedy “Heaven Can Wait” for a solution. “People had these experiences, but they start forgetting the person they knew, but they were still affected by the events that happened,” McKenna explained.

(My emphasis)

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    Looks like they haven't thought of the answer to the question they have raised.
    – atm
    Dec 31, 2021 at 11:06
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    "This sounds like something for another writer to deal with." - The writers, probably.
    – Longshanks
    Dec 31, 2021 at 11:08
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    +1 This answer cites the screenwriters, so it is the best answer. Jan 2 at 13:10
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The spell that Dr. Strange casts doesn’t make everyone forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The spell alters the timeline so that no one ever knew he was Spider-Man in the first place. Therefore, there was no reveal for there to be written records of.

To be more precise:

The spell makes it so that no one ever knew Peter Parker at all. The extent of the butterfly effect this has on the timeline is unclear, but it ostensibly means that the reveal at the end of Far From Home never happened because even Mysterio wouldn’t have known Peter.

They did it like that because

If Dr. Strange himself never knew Peter, he wouldn’t have cast the botched memory spell at beginning of the film, thereby negating the threat of the multiversal interlopers who were only able to invade in the final battle thanks to the botched spell.

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  • Your second spoiler block may or may not be an actual problem depending on the model of time travel used. (Not that the MCU is really consistent about that...)
    – David Z
    Dec 20, 2021 at 0:18
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I think people forgetting who Peter Parker does not erase records.

Even if there were written/digital records showing Spider-Man to be Peter Parker, not a single person in this world knows Peter either by name or face. So records might be ignored (we don't know yet, we will know only in the next film).

Also, if Peter's ID and Schooling is erased, then he would become an illegal immigrant with no papers and no education and I don't think that what spell did because he do take up a place for rent and he couldn't have got apartment for rent without some ID.

In short - I think documents will remain... and perhaps that paper trail will be used in new Trilogy (if they make it).

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