Spider-Man: No Way Home used the Web-Slinger's cinematic legacy to deliver an impactful and memorable ride. Unfortunately — as usually happens with films as ambitious as this one — its intricate storyline also included a few puzzling moments. Arguably one of the most significant came in the film's third act. During the three Spider-Men's battle against their biggest villains, Doctor Strange struggled to contain an interdimensional rift that threatened to bring everyone who knew Peter Parker from other worlds into the MCU.
To stop this from happening, Tom Holland's Peter asked Strange to erase him from everyone's memories. The good doctor complied, which resulted in everyone forgetting the young hero. There was a problem with that plan, though: There was too much photographic evidence of Parker's existence (both in terms of identity documentation and the extensive media coverage he received from having his superhero identity outed) for the world to forget him.
Many fans wondered how that photographic material would affect Doctor Strange's spell, and it was ultimately shrugged off as a plot hole. As it turns out, though, there is an explanation behind it — it just wasn't revealed to us.
During the 2022 IGN Fan Fest, No Way Home's writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers stated that there is an answer to the more complicated sides of Stephen Strange's magic, but it was kept out of the film so as to not clutter the story. As McKenna explained:
"[We] can't divulge much, but just know we talked about it a lot and there were conversations about it. And I will say, answering those questions by the end of the movie felt like it would be almost too much to have to explain [that]. [...] But we have thoughts and answers."
Sommers delved into the nature of their conversations, revealing that they wondered whether it could work similarly to how erasure worked in the Back to the Future franchise, where people would fade away from pictures after being erased from timelines:
"We deliberated a lot, [...] Is it going to be like a Back to the Future kind of thing? Or are people going to be disappearing from photos? Are physical objects going to be disappearing? All these things."
McKenna then once again promised that there is actually an answer to how Peter's identity-blocking works, but he wasn't able to go into more detail about it:
"Believe me, we have answers to it, [...] but I don't think [we're] allowed to divulge that."
It is, of course, customary for people working in the MCU to be tight-lipped about story details. However, the writers not being allowed to discuss what happened at the end of a movie that's already out could point to the possibility of Marvel Studios and Sony having plans for this to become a plot point down the line. Then again, not divulging that information could also be (and likely is) simply so that people aren't in the know about story points that could reasonably change as work on Spider-Man 4 gets underway.
Lastly, the writers were asked whether or not the spell had affected Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Peter Parkers. Sommers stated that they had planned to propose what sounds like a post-credits scene to show how it could have changed things up for the characters. Going by his response, however, it doesn't sound like the idea went past the initial pitching stage:
"[We] wanted to maybe pitch a tag where you got to see something, 'Oh, what would happen if this guy goes back and this has changed, wouldn't that be fun?' But [we] didn't want to distract from the emotion of what was going on with our Peter Parker."
There is still no news on when the untitled Spider-Man 4 will come out, but Sony's Spider-Man Universe will continue this year with Morbius, which hits theaters on April 1st.