Alfred Molina compares his original appearance as the classic villain Doctor Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2 and his reprised appearance in No Way Home.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Molina was the first star from the Andrew Garfield and Toby Maguire Spider-Man movies to confirm his appearance in No Way Home, despite rumors of returning characters from Spider-Man‘s past circling long before Molina’s involvement was established. Of course, many of the rumors turned out to be true, as No Way Home boasted a feast of past and present characters in what is one of the most ambitious crossovers in cinema history. As well as a bevvy of Spider-Man villains past, such as Willem Dafoe’s triumphant return as the Green Goblin, perhaps the most exciting appearances were from Garfield and Maguire themselves. Despite spending months denying their return, the scene-stealing combo of Garfield, Maguire and current Spider-Man Tom Holland has already helped make No Way Home one of the biggest movies of all time.
During a behind-the-scenes deep-dive with Sony, Molina has taken a closer look at both his performances as Doc Ock. In the interview, Molina looked back at his first time playing the character, in particular, highlighting Doc Ock’s redemption arc in Spider-Man 2, describing him as “a villain kind of reluctantly — or almost by accident.” Despite finding it “useful to go back and look at Spider-Man 2,” Molina “didn’t want to just come back and replicate what we’d done before,” and he thought it was important to treat the role “as if this were the first time.” Check out his full quote below:
“What I thought was so wonderful about [Spider-Man 2], the first time, was they gave Doc Ock this wonderful redemptive moment. And like all great villains, like a lot of villains in the Marvel universe, he’s become a villain kind of reluctantly — or almost by accident. I knew that when Jon [Watts, No Way Home director] described what’s going to be Doc Ock’s first appearance in this film, he just knows it’s going to be a moment of jaw-dropping awe. I wanted to make sure that I was in the right place in terms of the performance, so it was useful to go back and look at [Spider-Man 2]. But at the same time, it’s a different director, it’s a different movie, there’s a freshness to it, so I didn’t want to just come back and replicate what we’d done before. It was important to me to arrive as if this were the first time.”
While Molina has had to work around modern advances with the reprised role, with CGI tentacles and de-aging technology helping to make him look more like he did 18 years ago, his performance in No Way Home did everything the star set out to do. His fresh approach to Doc Ock still felt like the same character from back in Maguire’s Spider-Man 2, but throughout the film, the character shows that, like Molina said, Doc Ock has always been a reluctant villain. While his scenes with Holland are great, it’s opposite Maguire where Molina’s strengths are amplified. The pair’s mutual respect solidifies that Doc Ock is one of Spider-Man’s most troubled villains.
Following the disastrous ending to No Way Home, the future looks bleak for Peter Parker, with the entire universe(s) forgetting that he’s Spider-Man. While Holland will continue to play the web-slinging superhero in the MCU, it’s not known when he will next make an appearance, with the trailer for the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness confirming that Wanda Maximoff will play a major role instead. Of course, there’s always room for a cameo, but Peter’s fate is just one of many questions No Way Home left for fans to discuss, like the appearance of Charlie Cox’s return as Daredevil leaving fans wondering where these loose threads are going. Until these questions are answered, Spider-Man: No Way Home can at least become a lasting legacy for some of Marvel’s greatest villains, including Molina’s fantastic return as Doc Ock.
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