The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

Sometimes, at the end of a long week wherein someone stole Lady Gaga’s dogs and a new coronavirus variant hit New York City, it’s a relief to see just a sliver of the Dumb Internet of old. You know what I mean; the Before Times web where folks made memes and argued about movies and then went about their days. People know now that the internet was never so innocent—the darker corners were just further hidden—but there were times the ignorance was blissful, and we can see glimmers of it now in minor bursts of light.

Today’s piece of throwback online poetry? The reveal of the new Spider-Man 3 title. Here’s how it went down. Fans have been speculating for a while now on what the third Tom Holland-led Spidey movie might be named. Seeing as the previous installments used some variation of the word homeSpider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home—most thought that the new film would have something similar, perhaps even one apropos to how much time people have been spending in their houses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Spider-Man: Working From Home? Spider-Man: Homeschooled? Spider-Man: HGTV? The possibilities were endless.

So, to drum up excitement, the cast of the film—Holland (aka Peter Parker), Zendaya (MJ), and Jacob Batalon (Peter’s BFF Ned)—hit social media with a coordinated campaign the likes of which only Marvel can pull off. On Wednesday, they each posted a new still of the movie along with a title card giving a different name. Zendaya proffered Spider-Man: Home Slice with the caption “So excited to announce the new Spider-Man title. So proud of this one … FOS [Friends of Spider-Man] is back!” Holland dropped Spider-Man: Phone Home, adding, “So excited to announce the new Spider-Man title. Can’t wait for you lot to see what we have been up to. Love from Atlanta.” Batalon? Spider-Man: Home-Wrecker. “We’re so excited to share the TITLE of our new movie!!” he wrote. “🤩😝😱 Also enjoy this exclusive still from the movie, just an extra gift from us 😘.”

This was obviously a massive troll. While any and all of these would have been hilarious titles, the internet’s Spidey senses quickly alerted them that something was amiss. Even Amblin Entertainment, the company that made E.T., the movie that made the phrase “Phone home” iconic, knew the jig was up. “Been there, done that, Web-Head,” the company tweeted. “(You can borrow our Speak & Spell if you need help constructing a communicator to phone home to Aunt May. ;))” Brands! Making jokes on Twitter! What is this, 2015? Lol sigh.

Eventually, the cast revealed the true title. Riffing on Holland’s penchant for spoiling his own movies, Marvel posted a video showing the star walking out of director Jon Watts’ office and telling Batalon and Zendaya, “He gave us a fake name again … I just don’t understand why he keeps doing this.” “You don’t understand?” Batalon responds. “I feel like it’s pretty obvious you spoil things.” “Your thing is to spoil things,” Zendaya adds. As the gang keeps bantering, they pass a whiteboard with dozens of title ideas, and the real one written in large letters in the middle: Spider-Man: No Way Home.

There you have it. That was fun. As soon as the video went up, people began dissecting every word and image on the whiteboard trying to divine clues about the new movie. It was nice. The teasing and fake-outs were definitely troll moves, but the good kind—the kind that don’t end with someone being hurt or scarred psychologically. Everyone found out not only the title of the new movie but also the release date—December 25—and absolutely no dogs were harmed in the process. I could say more, but it’s Friday, and it just seems right to leave you with a little bit of good news.


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