A key moment for MJ and one of the cross-dimensional Peter Parkers in Spider-Man: No Way Home could have gone very differently, as shown in early concept art for the 2021 film by Marvel Studios‘ Phil Saunders.
The latest piece of No Way Home artwork that Saunders shared on his Instagram features MJ, as portrayed by Zendaya, being rescued from a fatal fall off the crown of the Statue of Liberty by the sentient Cloak of Levitation. Saunders explains, “In an earlier version of the script, #mj was dropped to her death, only to be rescued by Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation. This lead to a liberating moment of freedom for MJ as she gets to experience flying for herself…” The portrait of MJ gives her an expression that could be exhilarated or afraid, and Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man and his best friend Ned Leeds are there on each side of her to witness her aerodynamic moment.
Retrospective catharsis for Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man
In the final version of the movie, Ned was the one caught by the Cloak, and MJ’s savior was Andrew Garfield‘s Spider-Man, who had tragically lost his own girlfriend to a similar fall in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The hero’s emotional reaction after he ensured that MJ was safe made the scene a favorite among fans, illustrating how he was beginning to heal from his guilt and trauma.
Saunders acknowledged the impact of the scene with Garfield in his caption on the art, writing, “Redemptive moments like MJ’s rescue by #andrewgarfield’s #spiderman in #spidermannowayhome seem inevitable in retrospect, but in practice it takes some searching to get there.” He noted that if the scene had gone the way of his concept art, “…Ultimately we would have missed out on one of the most cathartic beats of the entire Spiderman series,” but also recalled his own enjoyment of the artistic challenge: “It was still fun though, to try to capture that feeling of weightlessness in MJ’s pose.”
Spider-Man: No Way Home is the third in the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s trilogy of Spider-Man films, starring Tom Holland but bending the barriers of reality to allow previous theatrical versions of Spider-Man to join him.