The Marvel Cinematic Universe started in 2008, with the release of Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the titular millionaire/playboy/philanthropist.
Back then, no one believed that Marvel could actually succeed in creating an entire film universe full of exciting characters and enjoyable films. Well Marvel proved all the naysayers wrong in 2012, when their cinematic heroes came together to save the world in the superhero ensemble film, The Avengers!
Now, The Avengers just released their sequel and Ant-Man, the MCU's 12th film is set to release on July 17 of this year! But as the saying goes, nothing is infinite; and that can be applied to our favorite MCU heroes.
The MCU is aiming to be around for a long time, but eventually, its resident actors like RDJ, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are going to exit. In fact, Downey and Evans have only a couple more appearances, and then they're out, unless Marvel can convince them to stay a little longer. But even if Marvel does persuade them, it's only a matter of time before the likes of Iron Man, Cap, and the rest of the Avengers will have to exit the MCU.
Or Will They?
Look, our beloved Chris Hemsworth is going to leave Marvel, and the Captain America title behind, there's no stopping that. The patriotic avenger wants to quit acting altogether, in favor of a directing gig.
We all support and respect him, Robert Downey Jr. and the other Marvel actors for their decisions; but like any crazed fan, we wish we could solidify them in those roles for all of eternity, as if we could just encase them in a gigantic ball of amber!
But there's no immortalizing it, and when those actors leave, there is only one solution that would allow us to have more adventures with the characters they left behind; recasting. But that word might as well be a curse word to superhero fans. No one likes to see their favorite character recasted, and it's especially worse when the other characters don't acknowledge it, because in their world, he's "always" had this face.
But what if there was a way to deal with that recasting? Not stop it, because as I said, it's bound to happen; but what if there was a way to excuse it? A way to acknowledge the first actor's time as that character, and a way for the character's new face to be acknowledged and accepted by the fictional world around him?
I'm talking about alternate universes! But how could Marvel introduce such a strange and complex concept into their Cinematic Universe? Well if recent rumors are true, they already have their portkey. And her name...is Spider-Gwen!
First Up, A Little Background Info
This is Spider-Gwen, and if you're not too familiar with her, shame on you.
But seriously, if you aren't too familiar with Spider-Gwen, you may want to get to your local comic store (or website) and start studying for two reasons:
1. It's an amazing comic series starring an awesome alternate Spidey!
2. It may be getting its own film pretty soon.
Spider-Gwen is a comic book series set in an alternate world, where Gwen Stacy gets the radioactive spider bite, instead of her boyfriend Peter Parker. The series did so well, putting a once long dead character in the spotlight, that it instantly became a comic phenomenon!
In fact, the Gwen Stacy version of Spider-Woman was so well received, that she survived the Edge of the Spider-Verse and the beginning of Secret Wars, two cataclysmic events set to completely change Marvel Comics, and has earned her spot in the mainstream Marvel Universe, alongside the mainstream Peter Parker/Spider-Man!
Now that you know a little more about Spider-Gwen, back to talking about,
Emma Stone portrayed Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel. Though in these films, she was just regular, non-superpowered Gwen. However, many fans have expressed their desire for a Spider-Gwen movie, with Stone reprising her role.
While the likeliness of Emma Stone reprising the role is questionable, given the status of her character in TASM2, the chances of a Spider-Gwen movie are just a bit higher.
Before the deal with Marvel, which would allow Spider-Man to join the MCU, Sony was keen on the idea of a female-led movie set in their Spider-Man universe. While nothing new has come out of that yet, Sony hasn't announced that the project was cancelled.
Characters like Black Cat, Firestorm and Spider-Woman (the Jessica Drew version) were all being considered for the focus of the film, but leaked emails from Lisa Joy, the writer attached to the project reveal that a Spider-Woman film starring Gwen Stacy was being considered as well; what's interesting to note is that Spider-Gwen had yet to make her comic book debut when this news was released.
So with that in mind, it's unclear as to whether or not the Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman movie would have featured the same Spider-Gwen from the then unreleased comic book, as it's unknown if Sony even knew about Spider-Gwen at the time.
Regardless, it looks like both studios were very interested in the concept of a Spider-Woman version of Gwen Stacy. But before either of them can make a movie, there's still one unanswered question:
Who Owns Spider-Gwen?
Or rather, who owns her film rights? Due to her name (both hero name and secret identity), powers, and world, one would naturally assume that she belonged to Sony. But if you think about it, she was created after the Sony deal, meaning that her film rights would belong to Marvel...right?
It's incredibly confusing, as no one except for Sony and Marvel knows the exact details of the deal, and just how far Sony's ownership of Spider-Man's film rights extend. But let's be honest, at this point, it doesn't matter who she belongs to, if she gets a movie, chances are she'll be a part of the MCU.
Why? Because why not? Sony came to a new agreement with Marvel to allow Spider-Man and any other Sony owned Marvel characters to appear in the MCU, but we know that the deal sort of works both ways; meaning that if necessary, MCU characters could poke their heads into Spider-Man films. They did this mainly because their Spidy-Verse wasn't working out too well financially, and working with Marvel is a very smart move.
If Sony owned the film rights to Spider-Gwen, chances are they wouldn't want to isolate her to her own Sony-only universe, as it's not a smart move at all. For one thing, Spider-Gwen doesn't have enough supporting characters for that to work; and the characters she does have are likely to be presented on-screen in Spider-Man films. Plus, Sony isn't going to want to confuse fans by making two completely separate Spider franchises, without the intention of making them coexist. We already have the completely separate animated Spider-Man film by the directors of The Lego Movie coming out, and most people are already confused on where that film stands in the Sony/Marvel deal (it doesn't).
Bottom line, should Spider-Gwen get a movie, it has about an 85% chance of at least being in that Sony/Marvel gray area that Spider-Man sort of resolves in.
Let's say that the rumors are true, and a Spider-Gwen movie is being considered, this is actually a bit of an issue. Well, depending on how you look at it. If the movie is made, then how would they go about introducing Spider Gwen?
The most popular theory is that Emma Stone's character will somehow come back from the dead (because...comics) and somehow get powers (because...comics?) and take up the mantle of Spider-Woman, most likely beside her beau, Spider-Man.
While that is an interesting take on the character, I have a feeling more than a little fans will be mad at such a large character change. The story of Spider-Gwen is that after her boyfriend, Peter Parker's death (as her universes 'Lizard'), she had her defining 'With Great Power' moment, and decided to use her powers for the greater good.
The appeal of the character is that she's a young, independent woman with a lifelong pact to herself and her loved one that she will always protect her city. With her world's Peter Parker gone, she develops her own outstanding characteristic, and becomes an incredible and inspirational superhero!
Change that back story to a resurrected Gwen, or maybe a clone (another popular SG film storyline theory), and you lose a large part of her character; her growth as a person in the wake of Parker's death. If you introduce her as a Gwen with a Parker who never died and caused her to become an outstanding hero, she's less of an outstanding hero.
How To Handle A Cinematic Spider-Gwen
So how can they introduce Spider-Gwen, and stay true to the character? Easy, alternate universes!
See, if Marvel were to introduce the concept of an alternate universe, timeline or dimension, then they could introduce Spider-Gwen as a Gwen Stacy from that different universe, one where she became her own hero in a world without Peter Parker/Spider-Man. It would also solve the problem I was talking about earlier; the one about RDJ eventually throwing up the peace sign and exiting the MCU.
(By the way, have you read the theory on that? Oh, it's pretty sad! Check it out here)
No one likes recasting, especially when the casting is as perfect as RDJ as Iron Man, or Chris Pratt as Star-Lord. But like I said before, actors eventually either grow tired of roles, get too old for them, or simply want to move on. So when Robert Downey Jr. is done with Iron Man, what's going to happen to Tony Stark?
I mean, you could say that Marvel will simply continue with their film plans, without the Tony Stark character. That may be the case, but what happens if for some reason, they need Iron Man again? And RDJ can't/won't do it?
They'll have to recast, and hear the cries of many fans as we attack this new face of Stark before he even gets the chance to suit up! But, if the MCU were to introduce alternate universes, it could be a different story.
He's The Same Character, But At The Same Time, Isn't.
Now, imagine this:
Star-Lord and Captain Marvel are discussing...I don't know...80's space jams that transcend across eras and galaxies, when a familiar face walks in; Tony Stark.
"Tony!"—Star-Lord exclaims as the man walks in the room. The camera pans to his face to reveal...Tom Cruise... (Fun Fact: Tom was considered for the role originally, before RDJ got it)
We, the audience, can obviously see that Tony has gotten a bit of a face job, but of course, the other characters in the film don't acknowledge it at all. That's the main thing we hate about recasting; it's as if the last actor in the role was never even there, this new face being the "norm". But what if the characters acknowledged that Tony looked different?
What if there was an explanation for his sudden change of face? This is where the alternate universe theory comes in. Think about it, the MCU has explored space enough, and the Infinity Stones, so we know there are other worlds out there. Perhaps, if they looked far enough, they'll find worlds similar to theirs, but with some differences (Like Gwen instead of Peter).
Marvel LOVES making different universes and timelines in the comics, so that they can mess around with their characters and try new things, without messing up the mainstream continuity, so why not in the MCU?
With this method, they could recast any hero or villain, and set them up so that they're actually an alternate universe version. It wouldn't just be out of the blue though, there'd of course have to be a reason for why that AU character is there, but I'm sure Marvel could come up with a great plan!
So yeah, that's a great way to excuse why Captain America is Channing Tatum all of a sudden; And just imagine what they could do with this alternate universe method! Like what?
Well, it goes like this:
Here we have the mainstream MCU, full of characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and (kinda sorta) Spider-Man. While Tony and Steve will be exiting failry soon, a ton of characters are heading our way, making their presence in this universe known.
Then we have the alternate universe, dubbed MCU2, where heroes like Spider-Gwen and...other reside. See, I put the silhouettes of Cap and Iron Man there because for one thing, we have no idea if they'd exist in this universe. And secondly, if they did, we'd have no idea what they look like.
The introduction of a second MCU could very well bring with it some fresh and exciting takes on former MCU heroes and villain. Perhaps there's a villainous, gun toting Captain America, or a kind-hearted Loki in this universe!
The introduction of this MCU2 could even do the original MCU a favor, by having new characters that call the MCU2 their home visit the MCU, therefore sort of de-cluttering it. Because honestly, if there were SOOO many heroes in the MCU, where were they when Loki attacked? Or Ultron? OR ANYTHING ELSE THE AVENGERS HAVE DEALT WITH?!
Anyway, that's my theory. The MCU will eventually introduce alternate universes/timelines/dimensions, allowing for recasts, alternate takes on characters, and even new faces like Spider-Gwen!
What do you think of my Cinema Conspiracy?
Do you think Marvel will introduce alternate universes in the MCU?
Do you have your own crazy theory you want to write about?