I spend far too much time thinking about Spider-Man. Specifically, about his representation on screen during a time that I gleefully refer to as The Golden Age of Comic Book Movies. No matter how you slice it, Spider-Man fans are eating so very good right now. Our beloved hero participates in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he has teamed up with The Avengers, while also tangling with Vulture (Michael Keaton), the Shocker, Hydro-Man, and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Meanwhile, those of us who love the characters in Spider-Man’s comic book universe also look forward to movies built around Venom (Tom Hardy), Carnage (Woody Harrelson), Morbius the Living Vampire (Jared Leto) and the promise of a Kraven the Hunter movie starring Aaron Taylor Johnson. We wonder if Tom Holland’s Spider-Man can ever cross over into that world.
I think it’s happening this December.
Keep in mind that I personally know as much about Spider-Man: No Way Home as you do, which is next to nothing. Outside of the title, and those two generic photos, nothing significant has been revealed about the third MCU Spider-Man movie, so speculation has run rampant. Because Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) plays a supporting role, many believe that No Way Home will be a full-on multiverse movie, with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield reprising their roles from their respective Spider-Man series.
All of that is possible. Tom Holland’s version of Spider-Man absolutely might fight alongside Maguire and Garfield, and they could face off against a multiverse Sinister Six that is led by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Seriously, the rumor mill on this one is insane. But that’s not my focus. My focus is on the very end of this movie, and why I think Holland’s Spider-Man is going to end up in the Sony universe once all is said and done.
The Current Sony-Marvel Deal
There was a time, during the span of 2019, where Tom Holland’s Spider-Man almost came over to Sony quicker than expected. Unhappy with the financial situation regarding the sharing of the character, Sony basically picked up its ball (rights to the character) and went home. Spidey no longer would be able to participate in MCU movies. Fans went into an uproar, and cooler heads prevailed. But if you look over the terms of the contract extension, they really only cover one more movie under Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige’s purview, and they have an option for Holland to appear in one more TBD Marvel movie.
That “next” movie in the extension would be Spider-Man: No Way Home. After that, it sounds like Sony is taking Spider-Man back, but agrees to let the character pop up in one more MCU movie of Feige’s choosing. Now, further extensions can happen. Spider-Man fans can continue to complain that the character works better under the umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But Sony’s not going to continue to share its most valuable asset forever. The reason the deal between the studios broke in 2019 was over profit sharing. Marvel wanted more of Sony’s profits. Sony wanted more Marvel collaborations, under the original 5% agreement. The two parties found a compromise this time, but eventually Sony is going to want Spider-Man back in their sandbox. Speaking of…
Sony’s Spider-Man Universe Might Be A Multiverse
Here’s where things get interesting. Fans have been asking, even since Venom opened, if it existed in the same world as Marvel’s movies. Meaning, could Tom Holland cross paths with Tom Hardy. Producers on Venom stayed relatively vague, even as the Venom movie included Spider-Man staples like The Daily Bugle and the astronaut John Jameson, son of publisher J. Jonah Jameson.
Then, at the end of the trailer for Jared Leto’s Morbius -- a movie that exists in Sony’s expanding Spider-Man universe -- there was a very deliberate inclusion of an actor we met in the MCU: Michael Keaton. He encounters Leto’s Morbius and says:
Keaton is never identified in the very quick scene as Adrian Toomes, his character from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Most fans just jumped to the conclusion that Keaton’s Vulture somehow made it over to Leto’s Morbius movie. How? Unclear, but that promise of the multiverse made so many things possible.
Then came this bit of news. Morbius director Daniel Espinosa let it slip during a recent interview that Tom Hardy was on his Morbius set, and possibly was included in scenes. This suggests that Venom and Morbius live in the same universe, which might have a Vulture (and will soon add a Carnage, as well as a Kraven the Hunter).
What if the realm where these stories are taking place is a multiverse, running parallel to the MCU Prime? What if Keaton’s Toomes isn’t in prison -- like he was at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming -- because he’s Toomes from a different Earth? And what if Holland is made aware of the existence of this alternate Earth at some point during Spider-Man: No Way Home?
Sony Needs Spidey More Than Marvel
At the end of the day, Sony needs Spider-Man more than Marvel Studios does. That’s not to say Marvel doesn’t need him at all. They’d happily keep making Spider-Man movies in the MCU, allowing him to team up with existing characters and possibly join the next iteration of The Avengers. But the MCU can roll on without Spider-Man, leaning on characters we love (Thor, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Loki) while also introducing endless heroes and villains they haven’t even brought to life yet (Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, The Fantastic Flour). Marvel would miss Spider-Man. But they don’t need him.
Sony does. He is, and always will be, the studio’s most valuable asset. And they currently are hard at work building up the foundation of that universe. It’d be financially foolish NOT to eventually bring Spider-Man over to the world that you are building in movies such as Morbius, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and the announced Kraven film. If there’s ever going to be a Sinister Six movie, it’s going to be a Sony film, and not one that Sony gives to Marvel. And the introduction of the multiverse in a movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home is a seamless way to transition a Spider-Man (Holland) who is liked by fans into an existing Sony universe that only has room and potential to grow.
Imagine, at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter (Holland) disappears into a portal. Michelle (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) are left behind, wondering where he might have gone. And we cut to Holland, waking up in San Francisco in the Sony Universe, staring down Tom Hardy’s Venom. Fan fiction? Sure. But based on the few clues that have been scattered around, it’s beginning to feel more and more possible, at least to me.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.