Spider-Man swings from skyscraper to skyscraper, spinning and tumbling across the horizon like a weightless whirling dervish. He sharply turns left and finally slides through the window of his Queens room before removing his mask and settling into Peter Parker mode.
But who is it in the red and blue suit? In the mainstream Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s likely that Tom Holland will continue for a while, which has left rival studio Sony (which owns the big-screen rights to Spidey) with a long-standing problem: his superheroes set in the world of Spider-Man, like the Venom movies directed by Tom Hardy and the upcoming Jared Leto Morbius movie, are greatly weakened by the fact that the wallcrawler can’t actually show up.
In comic book terms, it’s a bit like making a Gotham City movie and leaving out Batman. In the case of Venom, this is particularly ridiculous, as Spidey was intimately involved in the origin of the toothy antihero in the comics.
Luckily for Sony, this is also an issue that the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home appears to have addressed, at least in part. This movie is set in the MCU and features the friendly Holland neighborhood as a webslinger. But it also brings back various Spider-Men and their villainous counterparts from previous Sony movies, following Doctor Strange’s accidental introduction into the multiverse with a spell aimed at restoring Spidey’s secret identity.
Now, some fans are asking that those returning Spider-Men, played by Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man and his two sequels) and Andrew Garfield (both Amazing Spider-Man movies) receive their own future spinoffs. Frankly, it’s hard to see why this shouldn’t happen: the move would suit Sony, who could add their own Spider-Man to existing projects while also benefiting from Holland’s success in the MCU. Audiences can be a little confused for a while, but only if they haven’t seen No Way Home; Given the film’s huge box office success and the fact that it will likely make its way to streaming services at some point, this might not be a problem for long.
There are already rumors circulating that Garfield and Maguire could team up for a Sony-led buddy movie titled Spider-Men – which looks a bit like a retread of the No Way Home plot – along with suggestions according to which Maguire could appear in the next Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, a move that would require revivals. Given that this latest film is being directed by Sam Raimi, who directed the first three Spider-Man films, and the huge hype generated by No Way Home after it was leaked that the film would bring back after Spideys, the studio would be well advised to work on the covers now.
Would Garfield and Maguire want to come back? The very fact that the two were convinced to appear in No Way Home suggests that they felt they had unfinished business. At 46, Maguire would be playing a very different version of the wallcrawler than what we know and love on the big screen (Garfield isn’t much younger, at 38.) Peter Parker has rarely been portrayed as older than his 30s in the comics, but there’s the little-known 2006 Spider-Man: Reign limited series to lean on if the studio is to take a Dark Knight Returns-style path. It might work.
Where Maguire has the edge is that the villains featured in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are both some of the greatest in comic book movie history. Following his stormy return to No Way Home, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin is likely battling Heath Ledger’s Joker for the mantle of the greatest big-screen supervillain of all time, with Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock not far away. behind. It would take clever writing to bring the two back to the dark side after they were ostensibly healed at the end of No Way Home, but it could be done.
Still, it seems to me that Sony could be better served by restoring its Spider-Men in future Venom and Morbius movies, which could certainly use up the extra hype. Sony’s Spider-Man universe has never made sense without the lead actor, and the studio is now in the perfect position to bring Spider back to the debates.