First things first – there are spoilers galore in this story. If you’ve not seen Spider-Man: No Way Home and you don’t want to know anything about it – click or tap away now.

It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the movie history, but that didn’t make the reveal any less exciting.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll know that the latest Spider-Man film saw former web-slingers Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield make an appearance about half way through the film, finally confirming the long-running rumours about their inclusion.

Cinemas across the world roared in delight when Garfield’s iteration removed his mask in front of MJ and Ned, who are looking for the missing hero, followed by the appearance of Maguire later in the scene.

Maguire played the character in 2002 in Sony’s first Spider-Man trilogy, while Garfield ran out twice in his own Spidey duology.

No Way Home also brings back former villains, such as Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, after a spell gone wrong opened up the long-trailed multiverse – the idea that there are infinite universes with infinite versions of ourselves existing in them.

It was the inclusion of this concept, which is a central theme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, that sparked rumours that Maguire and Garfield would show up in the film.

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Denial, after denial, after denial

Tom Holland, the latest actor to play the web-slinging hero, was forced to stay tight-lipped on the film’s plot during the press tour (something in the past he has struggled to do) and often flashed glances at PR bods or his girlfriend and co-star Zendaya when asked a particularly sticky question about who is or isn’t in the cast.

All he told Sky News when he was gently pressed on the subject was that fans would be “fulfilled” with the film.

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December 2021: ‘I think fans will be fulfilled’ – Tom Holland

Meanwhile, Garfield spent the run up to Spider-Man doing press for tick, tick… BOOM! (even director Lin-Manuel Miranda was in the dark about his appearance) but he was of course asked at every turn if he was going to be making an appearance again as your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.

He repeatedly denied he was involved – sometimes feigning ignorance and other times outright denying his inclusion.

Read more: Tom Holland on getting it right, leaving acting to do ‘other things’ and having a pre-midlife crisis

Late night US chat show host Jimmy Fallon almost tripped him up when he showed him an allegedly leaked photo of the three men on set during an interview, with Garfield eventually claiming it was the result of photoshopping.

Garfield also sent Sky News’ spidey-senses into overdrive, when his planned UK interviews for tick, tick… BOOM! (which were supposed to be held on the day No Way Home was released), were suddenly pulled, citing a schedule change.

Being able to finally talk about it ‘takes away some of the anxiety’, Garfield says

Two months is a long time in Hollywood, and Garfield is now talking up his latest film, The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, as awards season gets under way.

Speaking to Sky News, he said that being able to finally talk about No Way Home “takes away some of the anxiety, for sure.”

Laughing, he added: “But actually, it was very, very fun to have a little game to play with myself while I was doing press previously.

“So now it’s just back to just regular old answering questions. It’s been a very fun time for sure.”

That relief was echoed by Holland – who on the press tour for new film Uncharted, said: “Our parents always brought us up to tell the truth and to be honest, and then I spent, you know, two-and-a-half months on tour, lying to the entire world on a daily basis, on an hourly basis.

“So it’s actually nice to be on a tour where there isn’t really that much for me to keep a secret… it’s nice and relaxing.”

Maguire enjoyed relatively few questions about his involvement, owing to the fact he has no films to publicise which meant he could keep his head down.

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How did the rumours start?

It’s difficult to pin point exactly where the rumours began – Marvel’s announcement that the multiverse would play a big part in the film got fans’ creative juices flowing, with some pointing towards the inclusion of the old villains as a giant clue.

There were also reports of a takeaway drivers delivering food to Garfield while he was in Atlanta (where the films are produced) around the same time No Way Home was being made, raising questions about why he was in the city.

The rumours were never explicitly denied by Marvel and Sony (the film’s studios), also pouring more fuel on the fire, whose film Into The Spider-Verse also shed light on the idea that more than one version of the Spider-Man could appear in future productions.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (starring Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man) is still in cinemas across the UK.