As fandom has collectively pored over the first Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer, a number of shout-outs to the comics and obscure Easter eggs have emerged, not least of which were the questions the trailer raised about Avengers: Endgame. However, there is one hidden message that may suggest a massive, controversial shift in the franchise.
CBR was the first to note that a boat traversing the canals of Venice had "ASM 212" emblazoned on the side, which of course alludes to the first appearance of Hydro-Man. This was followed up with similar nods to Sandman and Molten Man, who may or may not appear in the film; Mysterio's involvement making the evidence in the trailer somewhat debatable.
It was in finding out and searching for these numbers that we thundered down the rabbit hole, tumbled through the looking glass, and stumbled across what could be another subtle nod to a possible Spider-Man storyline. And if our fevered read of this arcane numerology is anything to go by, Tom Holland's third Spider-Man movie could be subtitled... The Clone Saga.
In the trailer, when Peter picks up supplies for his European vacation -- pictured above -- viewers get a split-second glimpse of what is otherwise an innocuous rack of travel supplies and other sundry accessories. Three numbers stick out immediately: the $1 price tag on the toothpaste, the 4 pairs of earplugs, and the 4 spools of thread. Together, that makes some pretty fine fodder for conspiracy theorists: 1-4-4. But what does it mean?
Applying the same logic we took to the other numerical nods in the trailer (though admittedly, those were much easier to spot), we went back and reminded ourselves what happened in Amazing Spider-Man #144.
So what happened? Well, the first coincidence is that, like Spider-Man: Far From Home, the story takes place in Europe; France, specifically. The more interesting and notable happening, however, comes in the issue's end, with the first appearance of Gwen Stacy... as a clone.
Though not revealed as such in this issue, Amazing Spider-Man #144 marked the beginning of the original "Clone Saga," which also introduced a clone of Spider-Man and culminated in #149, with the death of said clone -- or did it???
That would be the question some 20 years later, when the much larger-scale "Clone Saga" turned Peter Parker's world on its head by revealing that he, the hero whose adventures fans had been following since 1975, was actually the clone, and that the true Spider-Man survived in the shadows under the alias of Ben Reilly.
Finally, after much angst and role-reversals, it was revealed that, no, Ben was the clone after all, and Peter returned as the one true webslinger. This is the epic most modern fans mean when they talk about the Clone Saga, a massive years-long event that began well but ended as a cautionary tale about the worst excesses of superhero comics of the 1990s.
Spidey's adventures in France weren't especially memorable, but the synchronicity suggests that the 1-4-4 in the Far from Home trailer was not an accident. Alternatively, it could mean that we have spent far too long looking for easter eggs in trailers, and are slowly losing it.
But let's take this at face value for one hot second. If this is truly a shout-out to the beginning of the Clone Saga, what could it mean…?
There is an opportunity for some real weird fun here, if Marvel and Sony are willing to go all-in. Holland is, after all, the third big-screen Spider-Man, after Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Imagine a Clone Saga that brings them all together!
It must be said that their varying ages may make it more akin to Spider-Verse, but we already have a perfect movie version of that storyline. There's also every likelihood that this would be a pretty messy route to take, and could very well follow in the footsteps of Maguire's third outing and end up of too much of everything.
Then again, bringing in the clone angle as a central plot element in Far from Home itself could clear up why Peter is still swinging around town after apparently falling victim to Thanos' snap in Avengers: Infinity War. It would also be a much more surprising turn of events than the prevailing fan theory that the Spider-Man in Far From Home is a Skrull.
Again, the numbers 1-4-4 appear in such a tiny moment in the Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer, it would be hard to describe this as "foreshadowing" with a straight face. However, given the amount of scrutiny paid to superhero movie trailers, it's also somewhat unlikely that this was unintentional, or that filmmakers expected it to slide by.
Was it merely a nod to the wall-crawler's mid-seventies European vacation? Are Marvel and Sony trolling the trailer-obsessed culture that would even notice such a minuscule detail? Or do those three numbers, splashed on-screen for a fraction of a second, presage a make-or-break moment for the franchise, one that could either allow Holland's (first?) trilogy to soar to Dark Knight-level heights or crash to Batman and Robin-level depths?
Any way you spin it, this is where we are now, hunting down numbers, fine-tuning our tinfoil hats, and searching for meaning in each millisecond of a two-minute long commercial for a blockbuster movie. But hey, it's fun to dream, right?
So long as we never see the number string "5-4-4"...
Opening July 5, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon and Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.