3 Ways Spider-Man Could Enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Now that there has been much rejoicing over Spider-Man coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have to wonder how he'll get there.  Sony and Marvel announced that Spider-Man will first appear in an upcoming Marvel movie before his next standalone feature.

We've speculated that he'll show up in Captain America: Civil War since that seems like the most reasonable place to put him for a few reasons.  First, I doubt there's enough time to cast a new Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield won't be returning, sadly) and squeeze him into the stinger of Avengers: Age of Ultron, although that would certainly drive people wild, and then torment them as they wait over two years for Spidey's standalone film. Ant-Man seems unlikely unless you want to have Peter Parker stroll in and tell Scott Lang he's not the only bug-based superhero in the world.  Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 also come before the new Spider-Man's July 28, 2017 release date, but do you want to introduce a new Spider-Man in Doctor Strange, which already has to bring magic into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  And while Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is popular, the cosmos isn't really Spider-Man's scene.

Furthermore, even though Captain America 3 won't be based entirely on the Civil War comics, those comics do prominently feature Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man.  Briefly, in the storyline from the Civil War comics the government wants a superhuman registration act.  Captain America believes people shouldn't have to register as superheroes, Iron Man believes they should, and Spider-Man gets caught in the middle.  Iron Man convinces Peter Parker to unmask himself, but later Peter decides to join Captain America's underground resistance movement.

With filming on Captain America: Civil War beginning in a few months, it's unlikely that Spider-Man will be such a pivotal character, especially since Civil War is also introducing Black Panther.  Since Kevin Feige has been working on this deal for a while, it's possible there's a draft heavily featuring Spider-Man, so we can't rule out that the web-slinger could have a significant role, although it will have to be balanced with not only Black Panther, but also the Winter Soldier.  However, Civil War is the most natural place to put Spider-Man, but we obviously don't know how big his role will be.

But how will the MCU introduce this new Spider-Man?  The way I see it, there are three possibilities.

This is the worst option.  Sony has touted that their Spider-Man movies have brought in $4 billion dollars, so everyone is probably pretty aware of how Peter Parker became Spider-Man: it was a spider bite.  It doesn't matter if it was on a school field trip or sneaking into an Oscorp laboratory.  He was bitten by a genetically engineered spider, gained superpowers, and now uses them to fight crime following the death of his Uncle Ben.  The end.  It's one of the most famous superhero origin stories next to Batman and Superman.

Set photos from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice show that the movie will show Batman's fucking origin yet again, and while it may be a minor scene, I have trouble imagining how it's essential to any new Batman film.  Any new Spider-Man movie or appearance doesn't need to tell us what we already know.  It's an origin you can say in one sentence, and everyone knows that sentence.

Some folks on Twitter are saying that Marvel should go with Miles Morales as their Spider-Man.  While I like that development in the comics (for those who don't know, Miles Morales is a half-black, half-Hispanic teenager who took over as Spider-Man following the death of Peter Parker) and it would be an admirably bold move for Marvel, we have to accept the limits of the causal moviegoer.

Miles Morales exists because Peter Parker existed.  He's an heir, not the progenitor.  You need the passing of the torch, and if Miles Morales pops up, then plenty of non-comics fans are going to wonder what happened to Peter Parker.  Maybe they'll think Marvel couldn't get the rights, and so they had to create a new character.  Maybe they'll think they missed something (because they did).  You can put a new actor in the role of Peter Parker, and maybe you can even cast a non-white actor (time to bring back "#Donald4SpiderMan"?), but Morales is a big leap.  Marvel's been willing to mess with some canon (e.g. The Mandarin), but I think they'd stay traditional on this one.

Even though Garfield isn't returning, Sony may want to carry the mythos established by the Amazing Spider-Man movies.  This means Gwen Stacy has died, the Sinister Six is in development, Norman Osborn is possibly dead, Peter Parker's father could be alive, and Spider-Man has superblood.

If Sony and Marvel don't want to bring back Garfield, then continuing The Amazing Spider-Man plotline seems pointless.  Once you recast the role, you basically have a new Spider-Man.  We all liked Garfield, but if he's out, there's no reason to keep the less popular aspects of the Amazing Spider-Man franchise.

The press release says Sony will retain final creative control, but by giving an executive producer credit to Avi Arad—the driving force behind the many terrible decisions in the Amazing Spider-Man movies—and upping the presence of Feige, it looks like Sony is willing to back a new creative vision rather than stick to the Amazing Spider-Man mythos.

Last July, Feige said that he was excited to bring Doctor Strange's origin story to the big screen "because he’s got one of the best origins ever and it’s our opportunity to take that left turn into the supernatural."  However, on the Schmoes Know podcast, Badass Digest's Devin Faraci said Marvel was done with origin stories and that Doctor Strange would pick up "in medias res".

I'm not sure which approach works best for Doctor Strange and future Marvel characters, but it could be great for Spider-Man.  We know who this character is.  Presumably, Peter Parker was transformed into Spider-Man post-Battle of New York.  It would be hard to stomach that Spider-Man would sit out an attack on his city even if it was from an otherworldly threat.

None of the Earth-based Phase Two movies thus far have taken place in New York City.  Iron Man 3 is West Coast, Thor: The Dark World is London, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is Washington D.C., and Ant-Man will be San Francisco.  That leaves Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., who have their own issues, and probably lack the resource-gathering skills to keep an eye on a New York City crime-fighter.  The closest you could come would be the Marvel Netflix shows, which take place in NYC, although Daredevil, Jessica Jones, et al. could have other problems to deal with.  There's no reason they have to interact with Spider-Man.

That's not to say anyone would be ignorant of Spider-Man.  Spider-Man doesn't operate like Batman.  He's willing to work during daylight hours, have his picture in the papers, and if Marvel is sticking their commitment to reality, then he would definitely be picked up on social media.  It's just a matter of no one mentioning Spider-Man, which I can believe.  Everyone else has their own matters to attend to.

Separated from previous films and TV series, Marvel is free to weave a new back story for the character.   Maybe he's dating Mary Jane, or they'll do one better and pull from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics so the two will be friends and she knows his secret.  As long as Marvel doesn't overreach and provide a reason for other superheroes to seriously notice Spider-Man, then the studio has plenty of choices.

So I prefer Option #3, but perhaps there's a choice I haven't thought of.  Do any of these three options appeal to you, or do you think there's another way to get Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  Sound off in the comments section.

For more on the Sony/Marvel deal, peruse the links below:

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Matt Goldberg (15116 Articles Published)

Matt Goldberg has been an editor with Collider since 2007. As the site's Chief Film Critic, he has authored hundreds of reviews and covered major film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. He resides in Atlanta with his wife and their dog Jack.

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