Spider-Man: How Tom Holland's Hero Could Exist in Two Cinematic Universes

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Spider-fans felt a whiplash effect when the news that Spider-Man would no longer be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe precipitated the news that he might still be, but the recent statement from Marvel executive Kevin Feige opens up whole worlds of new possibility. When the new deal between Marvel Studios and Sony was announced, Feige seemed to choose his words carefully regarding the web-slinger's big-screen future. "Spider-Man is a powerful icon and hero whose story crosses all ages and audiences around the globe," he said. "He also happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold." And it's the second half of his statement that has been causing a stir of sorts online.

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The statement holds a lot to unpack and presents several possibilities for what shape Spider-Man's story may take going forward should he go on to occupy both the MCU and Sony's own more spider-centric universe. The initial news that Sony would continue to make its own Spider-Man movies with the Tom Holland incarnation of the character confused fans given how vital Spider-Man has proven to be within the MCU. However, with Feige's statement in mind, there are a few different ways the transition could happen.

One much-talked about possibility is that Spider-Verse type shenanigans could lead the MCU hero into crossing over to a world very similar to his own but without a trace of many of the Marvel-owned elements around him. That would mean that Aunt May had no relationship with Iron Man's right hand Happy Hogan, that the Vulture and Mysterio's villainous motivations were no longer grounded in the goings-on of other heroes, and that Spidey himself would need to make his very own suit from his very own (limited) resources.

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The possibility of alternate realities is one promised by the title of the upcoming Marvel Studios feature, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and provides the studio with innumerable opportunities to clean house and set the continuity just how the company wants it. Whether the impact of this could mean a multi-verse story entailing several Spider-Men (with Raimi fans still holding onto hope Tobey Maguire could return) or just a simple offhand retcon there is an entire gamut of possibilities available.

There's no need to default to Spider-Verse type stories, of course, and Spider-Man comics have managed to get by with their own reality-altering retcons well before the web-slinger slung across the multi-verse. The infamous One More Day story involved Peter Parker making a literal deal with the devil to save his Aunt May's life, but the cost the satanic Mephisto demanded was the erasure of Parker's secret identity (and his marriage) from the minds of everyone on Earth.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

That particular story feels like an appropriate fit given the climax of Spider-Man: Far From Home, in which Mysterio greatly complicated the wall-crawler's life by revealing his identity to the world at large. Doing its own take on One More Day could give Sony and Marvel the perfect opportunity to preserve the character while keeping him roped off from crossing company boundaries too often. To do that, however, there need not be an overly-complicated explanation at all.

Much of the Marvel Universe in the comics manages to function just fine on the suspension of disbelief alone and rarely is one character keeping to themselves in their own title much of an issue. Particularly for Spidey, who has appeared in multiple titles a month every single month for decades, the explanation for how he could be in the midst of a battle with Electro in one title while fighting for his life against the Lizard in another is rarely a problem. Especially when it comes to the involvement of other heroes, fans seem to fully accept that it's alright for Spider-Man to fight the Sinister Six all on his own without needing to call the Avengers every time, and the movies may take the same route.

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For that to work, all it would take is toning down the MCU-references in the Spider-Man films and centering the story more on Peter Parker, his huge variety of interesting supporting cast members, and keeping the wink-winks about Iron Man or Captain America to a minimum. Just which tactic the films take remains to be seen, but clearly, there is a far-reaching web of possibility available.

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