[Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) wrapped initial filming on Saturday, sadly leaving us with no set photos to provide a glimpse into what we can expect from the long anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man, portrayed in this iteration by Marvel newcomer Tom Holland.
There's been tons of speculation over what Holland's role will be in Civil War, with rumours flying that we're going to see Spider-Man clashing with the Avengers, most notably Captain America himself.
Spider-Man has a long and often-complex history with the Avengers, crossing paths with and dipping in and out of their team over the past 50 years. It's worth noting here that the Avengers team as they exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is much smaller and more contained than in the comics (though we do see an expansion of the ranks at the conclusion of [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035)).
It was back in 1963 that the original Avengers team was created when the heroes were brought together to battle Loki; this team consisted of Hank Pym (Ant-Man/Giant-Man), Bruce Banner (Hulk), Tony Stark (Iron Man), Donald Blake (Thor), and Janet van Dyne (the Wasp). Steve Rogers (Captain America) joined shortly afterwards when he was discovered frozen in ice, and he was given founding member status in place of the Hulk, who left the group when he realised that the others didn't trust his unstable personality.
So how does Spider-Man fit in?
The member roster continued to change over the years and Spider-Man encountered different individual members many times before he fought beside the Avengers as a team. After helping them defeat Kang the Conqueror in 1964 Spidey asks if he can join them, but is initially turned down.
It wasn't until 1966 that Spidey was offered membership to the group. However he decided against it at the time as he felt that he had been manipulated by them into capturing the Hulk who he saw as sick man when he turned briefly into Bruce Banner during their fight as part of his membership test.
In the 1980's Spider-Man was offered membership again, but is deemed a "trainee" rather than a full member due to Government security concerns and the worry that he isn't enough of a team-player, so it doesn't really go through.
Not much happens regarding Spider-Man's membership until the early 2000s when Scarlet Witch goes insane over the memories of her lost children, loses control of her powers and kills some of the members of the team in the process. Following this the remaining members disband, but the New Avengers are then formed in 2004 and this was Spidey's time to shine.
The New Avengers formed to tackle the threat of a jailbreak at The Raft prison and were comprised of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Ronin, Spider-Woman, and the Sentry.
The New Avengers later disbanded and Spider-Man was split between sides in 2006-2007's Civil War; initially in support of Tony Stark and the pro-registration heroes, he changes sides after becoming disillusioned with their methods and joins up with Captain America's underground movement, but not before being badly beaten by Iron Man.
In 2010 all of the then-running Avengers series were cancelled, with a new Avengers title being launched featuring Spider-Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Woman and Iron Man, with the team being led by S.H.I.E.L.D agent Maria Hill. This marked the beginning of the 'Heroic Age' of Marvel comics.
Later, following the Fear Itself storyarc in 2011, Spider-Man leaves the team to become more involved with the New Avengers, who are now recognised as a separate team from the Avengers themselves.
So, back to the MCU...
This is where we can start to link the team to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers, as the roster is pretty similar at this point. The initial absence of Spider-Man and Wolverine was due primarily to rights issues (with Sony owning Spider-Man and Fox owning Wolverine); as far as I'm aware there hasn't been a confirmation of who owns the rights to Spider-Woman, so why she wasn't included remains unclear. Hulk was brought back into the picture, Black Widow was included in to fill the female gap, and our original MCU Avengers line-up was born.
The comic book Spider-Man currently isn't operating too much as part of an affiliated team cause he's, well, just returned from the dead and he's a little busy with that. But with the new rights agreement seeing Tom Holland take to the screen as Spider-Man forming part of the MCU, presumably he's going to be inducted into the Avengers team at some point, most likely around the time [The Avengers: Infinity War](tag:738027) swings round.
Why Infinity War?
There's been no confirmation as to whether or not Tom Holland will be appearing as Spider-Man in Infinity War, but it would make a whole lot of sense as Spider-Man and Thanos have certainly had their share of run-ins in the past.
Way back in 1977 Thanos had captured the Avengers, and Spider-Man and The Thing headed into space to save them. Spider-Man manages to release the Avengers and Adam Warlock, who turns the purple supervillain into a rock.
Fast forward to the 1991 Infinity Gauntlet run upon which the Avengers: Infinity War films will be loosely based. Thanos is in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet and almost unstoppable power, so a huge amount of superheroes join together to stop him including, that's right, Spider-Man. He, alongside most of the other heroes, is eventually murdered by Thanos, but they all get brought back to life at the end. All's well that ends well!
In 2010's Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Wolverine and Doctor Doom end up fighting Thanos after he wipes out half the population of the universe. Doctor Doom ends up betraying them to try and swipe the Gauntlet for himself (no big surprise there) but fails to make it operational, resulting in Spider-Man using it to erase the entire adventure from history, with only him and Thanos remembering what took place. Good job Spider-Man.
With all this material to work from it shouldn't be too difficult for the writers to find a place in the Avengers team for Spider-Man, though I imagine that a lot of it will rest upon the reception of Tom Holland when he makes his first appearance in Civil War next year. After the declining popularity of the Sony-produced films we need a fresh take on the classic hero to bring him back to the forefront of public popularity, and it's up to Holland and the writers to make sure this happens.
So, you know, no pressure.