'Spider-Man' and Marvel's Path Forward After 'Endgame'
[This story contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame]
“We could’ve used someone like you on my world.” Wait, hold up. Did Mysterio just say “my world?” This was no doubt a common reaction this morning after Sony Pictures released the latest trailer for Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home, which blows open the doors on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s multiverse and the existence of alternate Earths in other dimensions. While Far From Home isn’t the first film in the MCU to mention the multiverse -- that would be Doctor Strange (2016) -- the possible exploration of such a big concept wasn’t expected to come out of the latest Spider-Man film, or at least not so soon after Endgame blew our minds with time travel. While Avengers: Endgame set up plenty of new directions for the future of the MCU, Spider-man: Far From Home, as the final Phase 3 film, is promising to be just as essential to that future and may make the superhero movie landscape larger than ever before.
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Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) tells Peter Parker (Tom Holland), “the snap tore a hole in our dimension.” Now, whether this means Thanos’ snap, Hulk’s, Iron Man’s, or a combination effort remains to be seen. But it makes sense that that much flexing of the laws of reality would create cosmic damages with lasting repercussions. Mysterio’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) claim to be from another Earth could be an elaborate ruse, and there’s little doubt that he’s not exactly who he says he is. He is known as the Master of Illusion, after all. But the alternate dimension concept tracks, not only because of its previous mention in Doctor Strange, but because in recent comics, Mysterio has picked up a penchant for traveling between dimensions. In the pages of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, Earth-1610’s Mysterio was revealed to be a robotic proxy for the familiar Earth-616’s Mysterio, who had built a portal between worlds. While it seems unlikely that Far From Home’s Mysterio is a robot, it does seem that the character will draw inspiration from the Ultimate version. That version, created by Brian Michael Bendis, sought to control Earth-1610, and while the version of Quentin Beck in the film appears to be a hero who mentors Peter Parker, he could be planning a takeover while most of Earth’s heroes are away. And perhaps Peter Parker’s future isn’t the only reality at stake, especially if he isn’t the only Peter Parker out there.
In Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s Spider-Men (2012), Mysterio’s travel between dimensions was the incident that initially brought Peter Parker and Miles Morales into contact with each other and laid the groundwork for Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse. Last year, Sony kicked off its universe of Marvel characters with Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to great success. It's always been assumed that Sony’s corner and Marvel Studios’ corner were entirely separate, with Holland’s Spider-Man being a shared asset who could only appear in the MCU. But what if Mysterio’s presence in Far From Home is the bridge that connects Sony’s growing Spider-Verse to the well-established MCU? This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Tom Hardy’s Venom meeting Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel in the future, but rather that Sony’s stories of Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Venom, and Morbius are happening adjacent to the MCU on another Earth, within what the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) referred to as “a vast multiverse.”
After the trailer dropped, Spider-Verse's executive producer tweeted, “You’re saying there’s a multiverse?” While it could just be a fun reference, Miller and Lord were reported just last week as having some big TV projects in development with Sony and Marvel, so it doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine Holland having a role as Spider-Man in both the MCU and Sony’s Marvel Universe.
But why stop there? Beyond Marvel Studios’ film releases in 2019, the big news this year was Disney’s buyout of Fox, which gives it access to the Fantastic Four and X-Men. The X-Men have had a nearly 20-year franchise run at Fox, one that will come to an end this year with Dark Phoenix and New Mutants. But perhaps there’s a way that franchise can live on. New installments featuring Fox’s cast seem highly unlikely, but the idea that their stories exist within the MCU in an alternate universe is the kind of thing comic fans have spent years dreaming about. On the other hand, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige has spent more than a decade meticulously crafting the MCU, and the notion that films like 2009's X-Men: Origins - Wolverine might exist in an alternate universe that is even tangentially related to his universe is unlikely to sit well.
But should Mysterio’s claims of hailing from an alternate universe pan out, there’s really no limit to the kinds of stories and continuities that could be developed under the Marvel banner. Spider-Man: Far From Home is looking to be more than an epilogue to Avengers: Endgame, but instead the cinematic groundwork for the very concepts that have kept comic books thriving for so many decades.
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