It’s hard to imagine now, but when Marvel Studios began erecting what we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008, the mighty heroes that make up our beloved Avengers–Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Widow–were generally regarded as B-list superheroes. Most people at the time were somewhat familiar with the characters, but very few in the general public obsessed over them like they did Wolverine, the X-Men, or DC Comics icons Batman and Superman.
Since then, Marvel has racked up an impressive catalogue of good-to-excellent superhero movies, building a thriving ecosystem and even managing to make D-list outcasts The Guardians of the Galaxy a worldwide phenomenon. But for comic book fans like myself, there has always been that one hangup that’s been needling at us since the MCU’s inception: Where’s Spider-Man?! It hurt my heart a little to watch the Avengers kick ass all over New York City without the web-head swinging around, making snarky remarks, and helping them knock out some baddies.
Now that our childhood dreams are coming true and Spider-Man is confirmed to be joining the MCU, there are a few questions on my mind as to how this will affect Marvel’s future plans, which had up until now been thoroughly mapped out through 2019. Peter Parker’s entry into the fold is going to shake things up big-time, so join me as I speculate what the Spidey-fied future of the MCU holds in store.
[Note: The most obvious question on some people’s minds is, “Who will they cast as Peter Parker?” While it’s an interesting question, I don’t feel particularly inclined to speculate since at this point we know so little and it’s so early on in the process. Maybe in a future piece. For now…]
Will Joss Whedon Stick Around?
Joss Whedon has been the mastermind behind the MCU since his debut directing 2012’s The Avengers, and since then he’s been a consultant on virtually every Marvel Studios production, helped create Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and taken on this summer’s gargantuan Avengers: Age of Ultron. He said recently that he “couldn’t imagine doing this again”, revealing that he has no intention of directing any more Avengers movies.
But Mr. Whedon is a comic book fan at heart, and like every other comic book fan on earth, he’s got to know how unbelievably perfect a candidate he would be to helm a Spider-Man movie, or at least write one. The prospect of him bringing Peter Parker to life with his witty, subversive writing style is the stuff dreams are made of, and if you’re a Buffy fan (or a Runaways fan–woot!), you know that he was born to make this movie. Teen angst, simultaneous wisecracking and skull-cracking, devastating deaths in the family–he’s been doing this shit for years. With hope, Joss will see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver us the definitive Spider-Man experience.
How Big a Role Will Peter Parker Play in Civil War?
In Civil War, Marvel’s year-long mega-event that sold zillions of comics in 2006-2007, the super-powered population is split in two following the government passing the Superhero Registration Act, which forces individuals with extraordinary abilities to register and act under government regulation, and reveal their secret identities. Tony Stark leads the superheroes in support of the act, Steve Rogers leads those who refuse to register, and a cataclysmic war erupts across the nation with heroes fighting heroes and villains running amok like never before. Guess who’s right smack-dab in the middle of the conflict? Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, of course!
The third installment of the Captain America movie series, Captain America: Civil War, will focus on the popular storyline, and it was confirmed this morning that, now that Spider-Man is a member of the MCU family, the character will make his debut in the Joe Russo-helmed film. In the comics, he’s the face at the center of the debate over the Registration Act, and of the most pivotal moment of the entire storyline revolves around him, so it would be great to see him make a huge impact in the script. (Recreating the aforementioned pivotal moment in the film would be tricky, though, for reasons I won’t spoil here.) I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not a shoehorned, throwaway cameo, which would hurt my soul. If the fine folks at Marvel can find a way to work him into the movie in a major way, it would serve them well.
How Will The Netflix Series Be Affected?
Marvel and Netflix are gearing up to unleash five binge-watchable shows on the streaming service, the first of which being the 10-episode Daredevil series (starring Charlie Cox as the blind crimefighter) launching on April 10, with the others–AKA Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and The Defenders–rolling out over the next couple of years. Like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, the five series exist within the MCU, though their stories will be mostly contained to the harsher corners of New York City.
With Peter Parker now fighting crime on the same streets as the Defenders, will he make an appearance on any of their shows? Daredevil and Spider-Man are frequent partners in the comics and share a common enemy in Wilson Fisk, a.k.a The Kingpin, who’s being played by the great Vincent D’Onofrio. (I wouldn’t rule out D’Onofrio making an appearance in the upcoming Spidey movie, by the way.) I know for a fact that I would lose my mind if I saw Peter Parker and Matt Murdock cleaning up thugs the NYC streets together, and now that it’s in the realm of possibility, I’m holding out hope for the crossover of my dreams.
Will J.K. Simmons Reprise His Role As J. Jonah Jameson?
Everybody knows that J.K. Simmons‘ turn as J. Jonah Jameson–the huffing, puffing, hard-ass editor-in-chief at the Daily Bugle and obsessive hater of Spider-Man–in Sam Raimi‘s original Spider-Man trilogy was one of the best things about those movies. He was so funny and so perfectly over-the-top that he made a bigger impression than characters that got triple his screen time. I left Whiplash craving more of Simmons screaming and fuming until his veins popped, and him returning as Peter Parker’s crotchety boss for the franchise reboot might be just the thing I need.
In a recent interview on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show (credit to /Film for the scoop), he was asked by the legendary host if another Spider-Man movie was in the cards. His reply was cautiously optimistic: “I just heard that we…that’s a possibility.” When asked if he’d be interested in returning to the role, Simmons replied with an enthusiastic, “Absolutely.” Seems like a no-brainer.
Will the Release Date Shifts Affect Storylines?
The first MCU Spider-Man movie is slated for a July 28, 2017 release. Consequently, every movie after it has been moved one slot back on the release calendar. For example, Thor: Ragnarok, which was bumped off its July 28, 2017 release date by Spider-Man, will now release on November 3, 2017. What’s notable are the shifts to the movies releasing adjacent to Avengers: Infinity War, the two-part event slated for release May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019.
Black Panther was originally coming out before Infinity War: Part 1, but is now scheduled to release after it. This either means that the events of Black Panther have no bearing on the events of Infinity War, or that the story will have to be tweaked to fit in with the grander MCU arc. It’s all very confusing, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. I predict a sweep of raging migraines striking the masterminds at Marvel Studios any second now…