Let’s End the Real Pandemic, Spider-Man: No Way Home!

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Nina Kremer, Writer

The past two years have been tragic, as new, unprecedented challenges seem to occur each day, piling up into a mountain of anxiety for us all. The one constant, stable condition of this time has been the nail-biting, obsessive watching of the news, as bad reports flashed continuously across our screens. But at last, take a breath, because the moment that everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived. The president and his team of medical experts have finally determined a solution that would effectively end the Covid-19 pandemic. Stop Seeing Spider-Man! 

At 11:30 pm on Saturday, January 15th, the highly anticipated first episode of season 47 of Saturday Night Live began with a presidential press conference where President Biden, portrayed by new cast member James Austin Johnson, shared an urgent message relating to the cause of the spike in Covid-19 cases. “Biden” attempted to convince disbelieving reporters, as well as viewers, that the only way to stop the surge of cases is to boycott the newest movie in the Spider-Man franchise, No Way Home. 

 The movie, starring celebrity couple Tom Holland and Zendaya, was released in theaters on December 17, 2021, and coincidentally, a rise in Covid-19 cases followed its release. While the cold open of SNL was intended to be satirical, it begs the question: did the release of this long-awaited threequel contribute to the spread of Omicron? If so, why didn’t the production company, Sony, have the foresight to release it on a streaming service, and might this gross oversight have devastating consequences?

Omicron was first detected immediately before the movie’s release. An article published by the CDC on December 10th, 2021, says, “(Omicron), first reported to WHO on November 24, 2021, has been designated a variant of concern. Mutations in Omicron might increase transmissibility, confer resistance to therapeutics, or partially escape infection- or vaccine-induced immunity.” Omicron, while not as deadly as other variants, was labeled a “concern” before the movie came out, and according to the CDC, “as of December 20, 2021, Omicron [had] been detected in most states and territories and [was] rapidly increasing the proportion of Covid-19 cases it [was] causing.” 

The timing of its release is an interesting factor because it was to be expected that a surge in cases would occur during this time as people would be traveling more than ever before to go home for the holidays. A USA Today article states that “AAA [estimated] that over 109 million Americans [would] be traveling 50 miles or more during the holiday season between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, an increase of 27.7% from 2020.”

In terms of marketing and profit, it makes sense that the movie’s release date was during the holiday season because people were going to be spending time with their families partaking in such winter activities as going to the movies. This prediction was accurate because the movie has, “amassed a mammoth $721 million at the domestic box office to date. Those ticket sales make it the fourth-highest grossing domestic release in history,” according to Variety. However, this may also be the reason why it has not, and likely will not be released on a streaming service. According to CNET, “Spider-Man: No Way Home was the first (and so far only) film in the pandemic to hit $1 billion in global box office receipts, and its streaming strategy surely helped pack fans into theaters — since the movie hasn’t been streaming at all.” 

However, this success is not cause for celebration, because the fact that it was released exclusively in theaters created a dangerous condition that allowed Omicron to spread. Being in a packed movie theater for two and a half hours does not comply with covid protocols because someone could easily contract Omicron, which according to The World Health Association, is the fastest spreading covid variant. 

Assuming that Sony executives were also able to make the connection that the movie theaters would likely be too crowded due to the popularity of the franchise and the actors, and knowing that Covid cases were already likely to increase during the holiday season, did they not think about the unsafe conditions its release would cause? Why release the movie exclusively in theaters as opposed to on a streaming service as per other new pandemic projects, which were released on HBOMax or Disney+? Well due to complicated licensing agreements between Marvel and Sony studios, it is highly unlikely that the movie will be available for streaming on any online platform in the foreseeable future. 

More evidence to suggest that the movie may have played a role in the rise of Omicron is that the majority of the increase in cases was children, the target demographic for the Spider-man franchise. An article from CNN stated, “For the week ending December 24,” the week after No Way Home was released, “an average of 262 children were hospitalized with Covid-19 on any given day, according to data from the DHHS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” 

So it seems as though the claims made in SNL’s sketch may actually be valid after all. Be warned all, that seeing Spider-Man: No Way Home is a dangerous task that should not be taken lightly, not only because of the influx of returning villains from all previous movies but also because Omicron cases may correlate with its success. Some advice for superhero fans: stay safe, stay home and stream Hawkeye on Disney+!