Along Came A 'Spider-Verse?' What We Know So Far About Spidey's Next Adventure

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I never thought that I'd be collecting and publishing my thoughts on movie NEWS, trailers or rumors, as opposed to writing about the films themselves. In this hellish year known as 2020, though, that's about all we're gonna get, so here goes. Nearly three months ago, I wrote a full breakdown of our first official look at The Batman, which has since been pushed to a 2022 release date (as has pretty much any other movie you're looking forward to, by the way). Again, that's a full 2,300+ word blog on a TRAILER for a movie that's now at least 18-24 months away. That's how starved we all are for new content right now, or at least that's the case for yours truly. Anyway, similar to The Batman, there's another movie that has me buzzing these days, even if it's still more than a year away. The third 'Spider-Man' solo project slated to take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which remains untitled and is still being referred to as 'Spider-Man 3' at this time, has been all the rage online lately.


Maybe you've had your mind on other things recently (which is more than justified) and haven't been able to keep up with the rumors. Or perhaps you'd just like to refresh your memory -- either way, I'm here to tell you what we know about the web slinger's next cinematic journey so far, what's been rumored and, most importantly, what I think of it all! If you still haven't seen Spider-Man: Far From Home and don't want to be spoiled, then I'm not sure why you clicked on this post, but I certainly appreciate it. Certainly don't read beyond this point if that's the case, though. Otherwise, let's jump right into it, shall we?


Here's what we know about 'Spider-Man 3' so far (really hope they announce the title soon):


Spidey is a Wanted Man!

As we know from the post-credit scene in Spider-Man: Far From Home, thanks to J. Jonah Jameson (who is fittingly more of an Alex Jones 'InfoWars' type of personality in this universe, as opposed to the editor of a reputable news publication), the world believes Spidey to be a criminal. After being wrongfully accused of murdering Mysterio (who THIS amateur blogger isn't convinced is truly dead, FWIW), it's an easy assumption that Peter will either be hiding out or on the run at the start of this movie. Maybe he'll need a lawyer; I wonder if there are any attorneys who work pro bono that Marvel Studios just recently re-acquired the film rights to? Regardless, it's a pretty safe bet that Peter Parker is going to spend this movie with his head looking over his shoulder, even when there are no supervillains present. He'll need some allies.


This Movie will be...Strange

One thing that has definitely been established about the MCU's iteration of Spider-Man is his desire for a mentor or Father Figure. After losing both his Dad and his Uncle Ben (off-screen this time, thankfully), Peter found that surrogate Father in Tony Stark. Obviously, Stark isn't around anymore (yeah, I still tear up a bit when watching that scene, what of it?). As we saw in Far From Home, Peter was eager to find someone else he could look up to and was easily deceived and manipulated by Mysterio. While Peter definitely learned his lesson by the end of the film and grew stronger from the experience, he's in a tough spot right now. As we just covered above, Spidey is going to need friends on his side. Enter the Sorcerer Supreme.


That's right, Benedict Cumberbatch is indeed involved in the soon-to-be titled 'Spidey 3,' reprising his MCU role as Doctor Stephen Strange. While we're all still very much in the dark regarding the film's plot, Strange's presence is said to be somewhat of a "mentor" role. Given what we just discussed above about Peter's need or desire for an influential male figure in his life, this shouldn't come as a surprise. However, before the naysayers who tend to reduce MCU Spidey to 'Iron Man Jr.' all roll their eyes in unison, I don't think that Marvel Studios is just trying to find another sarcastic, goateed man to babysit Peter Parker. The Multiverse is going to be a significant focus for Marvel in its films moving forward, so that's likely the main reason for Strange's presence. I mean, in theory he COULD be showing up to cast a gigantic spell on the entire world to make them forget about learning Spidey's secret identity (and let Peter off the hook), but that would be kind of pointless. Instead, I think Doctor Strange is around to help Spidey out of a sticky situation that could have implications on the very reality he's sworn to protect. What could that be? We'll get into some possibilities a bit later, so keep reading.


Lights, Camera, Action!

It should come as a surprise to no one that, in addition to shutting down businesses across the globe, COVID-19 has also completely halted the film industry. Despite that, however, certain projects have started to resume or, in this case, begin production. Filming for 'Spidey 3' is now underway, having begun in New York about a month ago. Production has since shifted to Atlanta; Tom Holland, who just recently finished filming Uncharted, is now beginning his scenes as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and shared the amusing photo you see above on social media last week. It was reported that, due to the precautions that Marvel Studios is taking to keep its cast and crew safe during the pandemic, Holland may not wrap up filming his scenes for this movie until March (maybe we'll actually have a name by then!).


Prepare to be...Shocked!

Admittedly, the above headline would be more fitting if I were about to talk about The Shocker instead of Electro, but alas. Anyway, this was the first hint to fans that there could be some cinematic universe crossover at play. Last month, it was reported and quickly confirmed that Jamie Foxx would be involved in this film, once again playing the supervillain Electro. Foxx portrayed this character in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was produced by Sony and is NOT part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you're not exactly a hardcore fan of Marvel/Comic Book movies, you might be a bit confused. Allow me to explain:


Due to some significant financial hardships, Marvel Comics originally sold the film rights to the Spider-Man character to Sony back in the late 90's (they also sold the rights to several other characters to FOX around that same time). Sony produced Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire as the title character, in 2002, along with two sequels in 2004 and 2007. Following some disappointing reactions from fans, Sony opted to reboot the franchise, rather than moving forward with its plans for Spider-Man 4. In 2012, Sony released The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield as the newest iteration of the character; the franchise's lone sequel was 2014's critically panned The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It was at that point when Disney and Sony began their discussions to officially bring Spidey, one of Marvel's most popular characters of all-time, into its extremely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.


What the two conglomerates agreed to was not a sale of the film rights (which would have cost billions), but rather an arrangement that allowed Marvel Studios to once again reboot and subsequently produce Spider-Man films on Sony's behalf. Sony retained film rights and 95% of the profits from Spidey standalone projects, while Marvel Studios gained the ability to use the character in their interconnected films (Sony does not get any sort of cut from those). In short, Sony gives up creative control over the character in films, but still take home the billions in box office revenue (minus 5 percent). With the deal in place, Tom Holland was cast as the newest Spidey; his first official appearance in the MCU took place in 2016's Captain America: Civil War. The subsequent solo films produced by Marvel Studios, Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) are officially considered canon, along with the web slinger's appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.


Did you get all that? Good! Let's get back on topic; this is why fans all raised their collective eyebrows when seeing the news of Jamie Foxx being cast in this particular film. As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield films don't exist...or, do they? It's still unknown at this time if Foxx is reprising his role from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or if he will be portraying a brand new version of Electro. The former would essentially signify that the events of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise have been taking place in an alternate reality, timeline, universe, etc. -- however you want to phrase it. The latter would have far fewer implications and may suggest that, well, maybe the folks at Marvel Studios just wanted to give Jamie a shot at playing this Electro guy again. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Foxx mentioned that he "wouldn't be blue this time;" the character having a different look than Foxx's previous portrayal would seem to imply that this is a brand new iteration of Electro, but again, we have no way of knowing for sure at this time.

So, again, that's really all we know for certain at this time. Here's what's been rumored but definitely not confirmed about 'Spider-Man 3' as of now:


Will We Enter The Spider-Verse?

Okay, I think that I've buried the lede long enough here, so let's get into the juicy rumor that just won't go away. You know how I just finished telling you that any on-screen appearances of Spider-Man prior to 2016 essentially don't count? Yeah, we might need to toss that out the window, because rumblings continue to suggest that this movie could, to some extent, turn into a live action Spider-Verse film! As we already covered above, Marvel Studios will be incorporating the Multiverse into its films as part of the MCU's 'Phase Four,' so the notion of bringing alternate timeline/reality versions of Spider-Man on screen in some capacity isn't too outlandish. However, even if this weren't the case, the 'Spider-Verse' has been a major theme in the various portrayals of Spider-Man, between comics, cartoons and 2018's animated film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. For those unfamiliar, these stories include different versions of Spidey than the one we're used to, between alternate timeline Peter Parkers, clones of Peter, one who had become a pig in his reality (no, I'm not joking) or even completely different people who have assumed the powers of Spider-Man (more on that later).


What I'm trying to say is: the concept isn't as crazy as it sounds. What's had fans connecting the dots regarding this film, however, are the various casting rumors and confirmations. Jamie Foxx's confirmed involvement in the movie definitely turned some heads among fans, but what really stoked and fanned the flames were the subsequent rumors that Sony and Marvel had begun talks with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield for the pair to appear in the film. Maguire and Garfield reprising these roles would presumably make their iterations of Spider-Man MCU canon and it's assumed that they would be brought in via the aforementioned multiverse. In the time since these rumors initially spread, they have yet to be either confirmed or denied by anyone reputable; the lack of denial by those who would be in the know has only caused fans to grow even more excited. Sony Pictures, when asked for comment, referred to the casting rumors as 'unconfirmed,' which has again added fuel to the speculative fire. Marvel Studios likes to keep things close to the vest, so this bears watching.


Miles Morales Soon Cometh?

As I touched on above, there are some versions of Spider-Man out there other than Peter Parker -- one of those versions is young Miles Morales. For those unfamiliar with this character, Miles was the star of the aforementioned Into The Spider-Verse animated film and has also been prominent in comics as well. Could we soon see him brought into the MCU? Possibly! According to Jeremy Conrad of MCU Cosmic, Marvel Studios has found their Miles Morales, although the identity of the actor they've chosen to cast is not yet known. It's also uncertain whether Miles is actually involved in this film or if he's set to appear in future films. Theoretically, Miles could enter this film via the multiverse, the same way that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's versions of Peter Parker are rumored to be. Introducing Miles from a different reality could allow Marvel to avoid going through his origin story (which is exactly what they did with Holland's Spidey merely referencing his spider bite in Homecoming).


However, it's definitely worth noting that a version of Miles has already been confirmed to exist in the MCU, as he was briefly referenced by Donald Glover's character Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming ("I don't want those weapons in this neighborhood, I've got a nephew that lives here"). This may have been a throwaway line to some viewers, but hardcore Spidey fans know that Aaron Davis is Miles Morales' uncle in the source material, so Miles is almost certainly the nephew he's referencing. It's unknown if Glover will return as Aaron Davis in some capacity in future films, or if his character will assume the identity of 'The Prowler' like he does in other mediums. As for Miles, the version that Davis referenced in Homecoming seems to be on the younger side, so I'd bet against seeing him in any sort of heroic capacity in 'Spidey 3.' While Marvel could technically make Miles 5 years older by claiming that he wasn't part of the unlucky half of humanity that was snapped away by Thanos in Infinity War, we'd still need a compelling reason why he has Superpowers. Marvel likes to fully flesh out its storylines on the big screen, so I'd bet against them rushing him out there this soon; maybe we'll see young Miles in a cameo, but probably nothing more.


We're KRAVEN a Compelling Villain!

We already know that Spidey will have to deal with Electro in this film, at least in some capacity. There could be multiple adversaries for Peter to battle, though, as Kraven the Hunter is also rumored to be a part of 'Spidey 3' at this time. Jimmy Kimmel, who usually has cast members of upcoming MCU films on his show prior to their release dates (or at least he did back in pre-pandemic times), sent out a cryptic tweet referencing this character within the past month. This wound up being part of a gag, with Kimmel "confirming" that he would be playing the character in the upcoming film. Still, despite this, the idea of Kraven being in the movie should not be dismissed out of hand. After all, Kimmel is on ABC, which, along with Marvel Studios, is under that big Disney umbrella. Knowing that Marvel likes to keep news regarding their movies pretty tight lipped, it's possible that this was a completely coincidental attempt at trolling from Kimmel. Still, there's a possibility that he was given the green light to reference this character -- it's also worth noting that Kraven the Hunter being the main villain of this film has been rumored for a little over a year now. A number of actors have been floated as potential Kravens, between Jason Momoa, Joe Manganiello and several others.


Ned: Friend or Foe?

Now, it may take a while to come to fruition, but it's possible that we could see the beginnings of a very particular comic storyline in this film. Jacob Batalon, who plays Peter Parker's best friend Ned Leeds in the MCU, has undergone a noteworthy physical transformation as of late. More specifically, Batalon revealed some pretty substantial weight loss in a recent Instagram post. While he very well could have done this for his own reasons and not necessarily for a role, some are speculating that he could be slimming down to play a villain -- specifically, the Hobgoblin. After all, Ned Leeds does become Hobgoblin in the comics, so perhaps he does here, too. When you consider that Ned seems to be the MCU's substitute for Harry Osborn, similar to how Zendaya's Michelle (who revealed at the end of Homecoming that she prefers to be called MJ) is its version of Mary Jane Watson. So when you think about it, the 'best friend turned foe' angle could work very well here; perhaps something happens to Ned while Peter's (presumably) on the run? At the very least, Ned's weight loss will have to be addressed when he's on screen. Time will tell if it's coincidental or tied in with the character's arc.


How 'Symbiotic' is the Disney-Sony Relationship?

It's been more than 13 years since we saw Spidey and Venom share the big screen together in the incredibly disappointing Spider-Man 3 (I mean, seriously, Eric Forman as Eddie Brock/Venom? C'mon!). But that might be about to change. It's been rumored that Sony's current iteration of Venom, played by Tom Hardy, could be involved in a cameo role. While there's nothing concrete to suggest that this is the case, it's worth noting that the crossover between Sony's Spidey-centric cinematic universe and the MCU has been anticipated for a while now. Before Venom debuted in theaters in October 2018, there were rumblings that Tom Holland's Spidey would make an appearance in the film. And although that didn't happen, the speculation persists that these cinematic universes will inevitably collide.


It might be more than just speculation; Michael Keaton's Vulture (who first appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming) made a brief cameo in the trailer for Sony's Morbius, which all but confirms that at least one Sony property exists in the MCU. Additionally, Sony has already confirmed that the Morbius and Venom franchises take place in the same timeline, which would suggest that all Sony franchises do. While all these revelations don't guarantee whatsoever that any sort of crossover will occur in 'Spidey 3,' it does mean that if Venom were to show up, it would not be through the multiverse. However, even though it's essentially confirmed that Venom and his storyline exist in the MCU, any sort of appearance by the character in this film seems unlikely. I tend to put more stock in the persisting rumors that the crossover will take place on Sony's side. With the murderous character Carnage set to make his debut in the Venom sequel, it's been speculated that Holland's Spidey (who's also technically Sony's version of Spidey) will arrive in some capacity to help Venom defeat him.


Enter the Spider-Slayers?

Another internet rumbling within the past few weeks has been the notion that Dr. Spencer Smythe will be making an appearance in this upcoming Spidey film. For those who are less familiar with the rogues gallery from the Spider-Man comics or cartoons, Dr. Smythe is the inventor of a bunch of murderous robots named Spider-Slayers. The purpose of these technological terrors is to...well, I think you can put two and two together here. Anyway, what's caused some to put stock in this particular rumor is the long-standing connection between Smythe and J. Jonah Jameson. These two characters have traditionally been in league with one another in various iterations of Spider-Man (comics, cartoons, etc.) and, as we all remember, Jameson was the one who revealed Peter's identity at the end of Far From Home. It's possible that Smythe and Jameson could team up (as they have in other mediums) to attempt to find Peter in this film, when he'll presumably be on the run. Perhaps Jameson's continued 'InfoWars' style propaganda directed towards Peter could actually convince the public to back the idea of having Spider-Man hunting robots on the loose. We'll have to see, but this concept has potential, as J.K. Simmons is confirmed for at least two Spidey sequels.


Whew! I just threw a lot at you, but we're almost done, I promise. So, most importantly, what do I think about everything that we just unpacked above?


Okay, so...not to rain on my own parade here, since I just wrote a few thousand words on the potential for 'Spidey 3' to become some massive cross-dimensional/franchise teamup, but I just don't see a lot of this happening. No, I don't think that we're going to see Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield return as Spidey, at least not YET. I would be shocked if there weren't talks going on to incorporate them into the MCU at some point, though, perhaps for the upcoming Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness. Personally, that's the film that I believe is going to be an absolute game changer for Marvel Studios. Think about it: Sam Raimi is directing (you know, the guy who directed Tobey Maguire's three Spidey adventures?) and Tom Holland has an "unspecified Marvel film" listed on his current deal to continue playing Spider-Man beyond the known solo films. There are many people theorizing that it's actually the Doctor Strange franchise that will bring the Spider-Verse to life and I tend to agree (there are also rumors that this is when Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool will finally be incorporated into the MCU as well). This seems like it could be the film equivalent of quid pro quo -- Doctor Strange appears in 'Spidey 3' and Spidey(s) do the same in 'Doctor Strange 2.'


I also don't think that we see Miles Morales just yet, at least not as Spider-Man. It makes perfect sense for Miles to be 'aged up' into a teen using the logic of him not being erased by the Thanos snap in Infinity War (remember, the MCU is technically in 2024 at the moment), which could make his debut imminent. It just doesn't seem like it's in the cards to happen QUITE yet. Marvel having a new Spider-Man in its back pocket in the event that Tom Holland eventually decides that he no longer wants to play the role (he has actually stated the opposite to date) is a great ace in the hole. Like I mentioned above, though, Miles already exists in this universe, having been referenced briefly in Homecoming. And if we're to believe the report from Jeremy Conrad, it's a matter of when -- not if -- we eventually meet him.


Finally, let's talk villains; I think the Spider Slayers theory is incredibly sound, considering the fact that there is likely to be some sort of manhunt going on for Spider-Man at some point in this film. The same can be said for Kraven (I mean, 'Hunter' is literally part of his name), who might be recruited by a party interested in finding Spidey for their own interests. Introducing multiple adversaries for Peter to face while he's also fighting to clear his name would be an interesting angle for sure. However, let's not forget that Electro is already in the mix as it is. I don't think that two villains would be overstuffing the story by any means, but three is probably pushing it. Based on this, I think we'll see either Kraven or Smythe and his Spider Slayers, not both. I also think that adding in Venom (who, based on the current iteration, would probably be more of an antihero or slight nuisance) or Hobgoblin would DEFINITELY be overkill. Perhaps they get Ned started down some sort of downward path, but seeing that path to its fruition in this particular film just doesn't seem feasible, in my opinion.


Bottom line? The potential exists for 'Spidey 3' (can we please get a title soon, Mr. Feige?) to be fantastic even if it doesn't wind up being a live action Spider-Verse flick. Doctor Strange's involvement is bound to carry some sort of cosmic implications, even if they're not paid off until a later time, so there's much to be excited about here. Hopefully the pandemic doesn't delay production any further so we're able to see this movie on time, I seriously can't wait.


So, what do you all think about what was presented above? What do you think we'll see and, most importantly, what do you WANT to see? Feel free to sound off in the comments!


- Mark (@MarkPiselli13)

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