Now that Spider-Man: Homecoming is finally here, fans and critics alike have been dissecting every Easter Egg for potential hints on where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is headed. One theorist of note is none other than filmmaker and comic book man Kevin Smith, who proposed a compelling notion that a certain character mentioned in Homecoming will take on a huge role in the MCU — and sooner than later.
This article contains minor spoilers for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In the film, Tom Holland's Spider-Man meets Donald Glover's Aaron Davis, a criminal from the comics who operates under the alias "The Prowler." Offering up info to Spidey, Davis makes reference to having a nephew in New York he'd rather not see get hurt. As comic readers will know, Prowler's nephew is none other than Miles Morales, the half Black, half Hispanic second Spider-Man.
While many took the line as little more than a subtle nod, others like Smith read into it as an early introduction to the next on-screen wall crawler.
On the Fatman on Batman podcast, Kevin Smith laid out his idea for how and when the MCU will swap out Peter Parker for Miles Morales. In short, Smith believes that with several Marvel stars' contracts ending around 2018's The Avengers: Infinity War, it's not impossible to imagine Tony Stark dying in (or soon after) the film. When that happens, Tom Holland's Peter Parker could take over his mentor's role as Iron Man, allowing the Prowler's nephew Miles Morales to swing into the Spidey suit.
Kevin Smith's Full Quote From The Podcast:
"I've got no inside info, here's just something I was whimsying about on the ride home: we know we're heading into Avengers: Infinity War...All of those contracts are getting big for the stars of the Marvel Universe, and they've been saying, 'After the Avengers: Infinity War, we're in a completely different phase of the Marvel Universe, and things will fucking change indefinitely, or permanently.'"
So what they're communicating, as far as I understand is, you know, as they go battle Thanos, get ready to lose some big guns. So imagine this: some world where Tony Stark gets killed in Infinity War. Who could take over the suit? The kid he's been mentoring, Peter Parker, who's already got a suit that talks to him. So then who takes over the Spider-Man suit? Prowler's kid...his nephew, and you can see it working. I don't know if that's the way, that's just armchair writing. They'll do a better version I'm sure."
Smith's idea rests on two core foundations: the significance of Easter Eggs in the MCU, and the reinvention of the MCU that Kevin Feige and co. insist will follow the events of Infinity War and its 2019 followup (referred to here as Infinity War Part 2).
The Significance Of Easter Eggs
Moviegoers are well aware that the MCU has often used Easter Eggs and post-credit scenes to display what's next in store. Sometimes it's subtle, like the blink-and-you'll miss-it shout out to Doctor Strange during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which came two years before the character's on-screen debut. Other times it's more outright, like the now-famous credits scene in the original Iron Man where Nick Fury announces he's assembling a team.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently chatted about Homecoming's Miles reference with CinemaBlend, mentioning how nods like this pave the way for later films and characters. Feige told CinemaBlend, "Whenever we have something like that -- you remember Doctor Strange was mentioned in Winter Soldier -- we always love those little teases that suggest yes, people are out there in a broader universe. If and when he shows up, who knows?"
Phase 4 Reinventing The MCU
On Smith's second foundation — that Phase 4 of the Marvel universe will ask viewers to forget everything they know about the MCU — Feige himself has been the loudest voice on this topic. The studio president has been quoted as saying, "We have an idea [of what the MCU looks like post-Infinity War], and it's gonna be very, very different."
In the film universe, Infinity War and its followup will mark a narrative conclusion to the arc that's been built up across the 22 films from 2008 to now. In the real world, actors like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr.'s contracts will wrap up around the same time as Infinity War Part 2. Combined, this means we can expect some new faces to lead the #MCU into a post-Infinity world.
How Likely Is Kevin Smith's Prediction?
Considering the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming is slated to release two months after Avengers: Infinity War, and will star Tom Holland, don't expect Peter Parker to assume the Iron Man title immediately after Infinity War Part One. Smith's timeline may be a little off, but he admits in the podcast that his thoughts were preliminary armchair writing.
Still, the idea of someone else becoming Iron Man — and that another could become Spider-Man — is not unprecedented in the source material. A recent comic arc saw Tony Stark step down and give his suit to teenage genius Riri Williams, who became Ironheart. While Peter and Riri are drastically different characters, the notion of a brilliant teenager inheriting Tony Stark's tech and becoming the next Iron Man is nothing new.
With an animated #MilesMorales Spider-Man flick from Sony on the horizon, Marvel will have a chance to see how mainstream audiences will react to a Spider-Man that isn't Peter Parker before dropping Morales into the center of its film universe.
The MCU has undeniably been playing with the mentor relationship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark since Peter's introduction in Captain America: Civil War. Imagine, from a narrative perspective, having Peter graduate to become the next Iron Man, and having him mentor up and comer Miles Morales, who's keeping things safe in Peter's old turf as the next #SpiderMan.
Do you agree or disagree with Kevin Smith's prediction? Do you have your own? Weigh in by leaving a comment below.