Alfred Molina returns as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man No Way Home

Alfred Molina Doctor Octopus
Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 Pic credit: Sony

Doctor Octopus is returning to plague Spider-Man once more in Spider-Man No Way Home. 

After months of rumors, Alfred Molina has confirmed he will reprise his Spider-Man 2 role of Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Doc Ock in Spider-Man No Way Home. The actor also touched on exactly how his villain could possibly return from his apparent death.

Who is Doctor Octopus?

One of Spider-Man’s oldest and most iconic enemies, Doc Ock first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #3 in 1962.

Otto Octavius was a brilliant (and arrogant) scientist who utilized mentally-controlled extending metal arms in his lab work. An explosion caused the arms to fuse to Octavius’ body and also drove him mad. 

Turning to crime, Doctor Octopus would battle Spider-Man constantly throughout the years, either alone or with the Sinister Six. He was briefly killed off in 1994 but returned. 

A major storyline in 2012 had a dying Ock manage to swap bodies with Peter Parker to become a “Superior Spider-Man.” After Peter got his body back, Otto acquired a new cloned body in prime physical health to continue as a hero.

To defeat a deadly threat, Otto made a deal with the demon Mephisto to return to his old body and give up his memories of Spider-Man’s true identity and his heroic crusade, thus returning to a pure villain. 

Molina on returning to Ock

Doctor Octopus
Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus Pic credit: Sony

2004’s Spider-Man 2 had Otto starting out as a well-mannered scientist who was a mentor to Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire). When an experiment went wrong, it caused Otto to have the arms fused to him and killed his wife.

Mentally shaken and blaming Spider-Man for it, Otto went on the attack as Doctor Octopus in some thrilling fights.

The movie’s ending had Peter defeat Otto just as a powerful reactor he was building was about to explode. Realizing how wrong he’d been, Otto sacrificed himself to crash the reactor into the New York river, seemingly drowning.

When revealing the news of his casting to Variety, Molina addressed the secrecy around the role, which he laughed wasn’t that secret. 

“When we were shooting it, we were all under orders not to talk about it, because it was supposed to be some great big secret. But, you know, it’s all over the internet. I actually described myself as the worst kept secret in Hollywood!”

Molina also brought up his concern to No Way Home director John Watts on how he’s nearly two decades older than he was when he played Otto in Spider-Man 2. Watts responded by pointing out the deaging CGI used on Robert Downey Jr for Civil War and Samuel L. Jackson for Captain Marvel.

“‘Did you see what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson?’ They made Robert De Niro’s face (in The Irishman) younger, but when he was fighting, he looked like an older guy. He looked like an old guy! That’s what that’s what worried me about doing it again. I don’t have the same physicality that I had 17 years ago. That’s just a fact. I then remembered that it’s the tentacles that do all the work!”

Molina is the second actor to reprise a role from the Raimi trilogy in the MCU. The post-credits scene for Spider-Man: Far From Home had J.K. Simmons returning as J. Jonah Jameson, helping to expose Peter’s true identity to the world.

A Spiderverse?

Spider-Man Far From Home
Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Pic credit: Marvel

Molina addressed the key question of how Otto is alive again and how his appearance works when the Sony Spider-Man movies are a separate continuity from the MCU.

He asked No Way Home’s director, John Watts, and got an intriguing answer: “In this universe, no one really dies.”

It’s stated Otto’s story picks up right where it left off with him in the river. This combines with word that Jamie Foxx will be reprising his role of Electro from 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

This fuels the long-standing fan theory that the movie will involve a live-action “Spider-Verse” somehow connecting the three separate Spider-Man movie continuities. This could also be a tie-in for the coming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness film. 

2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse used the concept of different Spider-Men (and one Woman) meeting up. A fun bit was an alternate version of Doctor Octopus, only this one called Olivia and voiced by WandaVision star Kathryn Hahn. 

Notably, Tom Holland has repeatedly told interviewers that the film will not have either Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield appearing. Yet Molina’s appearance does make it hard to believe such an epic meeting will not take place. 

While much of the story remains under wraps, Molina will finally get his dream of once more donning Doc Ock’s metallic arms on the big screen.

Spider-Man: No Way Home premieres in theaters December 17.

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