Now that the dust has somewhat settled, we've had plenty of time to soak in Tom Holland's surprisingly excellent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Spider-Man/Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War.
As a comic relief with a hell of a lot of heart, Spider-Man seemed to instantly capture the affection of comic book and movie fans alike, and Holland will reprise the role for next year's Spidey solo outing [Spider-Man: Homecoming](tag:3874051).
Spider-Man is an interesting one to introduce to the MCU now, as he has a bit of an edge over other new-coming characters due to the fact that most of us are familiar with the iconic Marvel hero. If not from reading the comic books or watching the animated series, then from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy, and the Marc Webb/Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man twofer.
Sure, there is going to have to be a fair amount of groundwork laid regarding exactly what the new, younger Holland-portrayed Spidey is all about, but beyond Homecoming the scope for Spider-Man movies is almost limitless.
Homecoming And Beyond
We've already seen some of this potential in Sony's planned (and perhaps now canned in the wake of the Marvel deal) Sinister Six and Venom spinoff features, and the Spider-Man universe is chock-full of villains and heroes ripe for the big screen.
But what about the Spider Family? A lot of classic heroes have a support network of similar supes surrounding them, from the famous Bat Family, to the Arrow Family of the comics that is currently growing in as "Team Arrow" in The CW's "Flarrowverse". The extended Spider-Man family were front and center in Marvel's 2014 "Spider-Verse" storyline, which saw various incarnations of Spider-Man from across the Marvel multiverse being targeted by Morlun and his family.
"Spider-Verse" featured every single Spider-Man we'd seen in the pages of Marvel comics — yep, even Spider-Ham, as the Otto Octavius Spider-Man brought the various Spideys together to fight back against Morlun. But why is the Spider Family important?
The Spider-Man Family
One of Peter Parker's defining attributes is his lack of immediate biological family. Raised an orphan following the death of his parents, the patriarch of his nuclear family Uncle Ben Parker is killed around the time Peter receives his powers, due to his failure to exercise his "great responsibility".
Though Peter later discovers he has a half-sister — Teresa Parker/Durand, who was only introduced two years ago in Family Business — in the majority of his comic book iterations, his only biological family is his Aunt May. That is, unless you count the Spider-Man family.
The family consists of Spider-Men and Spider-Totems, at lot of whom hail from other universes. From Earth-616 (the Marvel baseline Earth) you've got Peter's clones Kaine Parker (Scarlet Spider) and Ben Reilly, as well as Cindy Moon (Silk), Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), Cassandra Webb (Madame Web) and more.
Spider-Gwen hails from Earth-65, a universe in which Gwen Stacey was the one bitten by the radioactive spider, with her friend Peter Parker becoming the Lizard and subsequently dying in her arms.
From Earth-1610 (the Ultimate universe) comes Miles Morales who took up the Spider-Man mantle following the death of Peter Parker, and has been a hit with fans as the first half African-American, half Hispanic Spider-Man.
From Earth-982 there are also Peter and Mary Jane's children, the infant Benjy and Mayday Parker (Spider-Woman). And of course who could forget Spider-Ham — Peter Porker — the pig Spider-Man from Earth-8311?
I could go on, but there isn't enough time in the day for that and I'm sure we'll all very busy and important. My point? There's a hell of a lot of other Spider people out there, a limitless amount, in fact. Though many of them were killed off during the massive "Spider-Verse" event of 2014, there's still a huge scope for storytelling using these characters. Case in point: Both Silk and Spider-Gwen were spun off into their own comic book series following "Spider-Verse" due to their popularity.
Why Do A Spider-Verse Movie?
Of course, the MCU is already a pretty damn ambitious piece of work, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) managed to balance such a huge cast. So why bother with a Spider-Verse when we already have a good Marvel-verse established?
It's Something Different
As previously mentioned, Peter Parker's alter ego is one superhero who has been done to death when it comes to cinematic adaptations, with Sony already cranking out five live-action films of vastly differing quality. To be fair, Marvel and Disney have never had a direct hand in Spider-Man's on-screen iterations until now, so allowing them their version of a solo Spider-Man movie now is understandable.
Peter Parker is historically one of the most popular Marvel characters due to how relatable he is to many readers/viewers. We already know what he's all about, and we've seen him in action many times before. But the opportunity to see some of the other Spider-Men who have been growing in popularity since the "Spider-Verse" event — especially Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales — would be incredible.
And as for the movies, you wouldn't be wrong to say that even at their best (which probably fizzled out around the time of Spider-Man 2) they remained pretty formulaic. Each film can be boiled down to Spider-Man versus a major villain who has a personal connection to him, Peter Parker's problems with his job, and his relationship with Mary Jane and/or Gwen Stacey.
It Creates A Support Network For Peter
Of course, we've known for a while that we're going to see Robert Downey Jr. popping up in Homecoming as Tony Stark/Iron Man, thanks to the rapport established between the two characters in Civil War. Presumably we'll get to see Stark hit on Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) some more, and crack jokes about puberty and webbing.
In the comic books Spider-Man has a close but complicated history with the Avengers team — but right now the Avengers as we know them are broken, and Tony Stark isn't fairing much better.
Spider-Man has typically been swinging solo, but given the success of the Avengers and how exciting it is to see them on screen together, it would be great to see other Spider-Men introduced to the MCU for him to bounce off.
Could It Happen?
Well, it was announced last week that Donald Glover — who voiced Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and was part of a long-running campaign to play Spider-Man — has just signed on for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Does this mean we'll get to see Miles Morales in Homecoming? It's unlikely, due to how early in the game it is for Spider-Man, but not impossible to imagine later down the line.
And indeed — as Mr. Sunday Movies posits — there's already the potential to bring in two more Spider-Men in the form of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who could feasibly appear as older Spider-Men from other universes (the Sony-verse, if you will).
Though that suggestion doesn't help very much with regards to the same old samey problem, it would be very interesting to see, and a good send-off for the characters who kinda just fizzled out with their poor last swings as Spidey in Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Joining The Infinity War?
Of course, if the Spider-Verse was going to be truly opened up, then the way to do it might be through Avengers: Infinity War.
Although all Infinity War details are currently being kept under pretty tight wraps, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that the concept of other universes might come into it. After all, messing with other universes is kinda Thanos's jam.
If there is the potential to introduce more Spider-Men to the MCU, it seems likely at this juncture that the way to do so would be through bringing in characters from other universes; particularly if they're older, more experienced ones, to act as a foil or mentor to the young Peter Parker.
At the moment it's looking like the DC Extended Universe is more on track to be the first to introduce a cinematic multiverse, but that could all change with Infinity War, which will really open up the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the cosmos. And we're not forgetting Doctor Strange either, which releases this year, featuring the magical, mystical, dimension-hopping Doctor Stephen Strange, and will introduce these concepts more firmly into the MCU.
Of course, if the wider Spider-Verse is ever introduced to the MCU, it almost definitely won't be until after Holland has been allowed to have his solo run as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and probably not until after Infinity War as we head into Phase Four of the cinematic universe.
For now, we can only hope that Glover's casting in Homecoming is a sign of things to come. Spider-Verse-flavored things.
Well, we can dream right?
Spider-Man: Homecoming is set to release July 7, 2017.
Do you want to see a variation of "Spider-Verse" introduced to the MCU after Spider-Man: Homecoming? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!