Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 is a long ways away, with the highly anticipated sequel set for release in 2022. However, that hasn't stopped fans from hoping that the follow-up to the Oscar-winning animated superhero film will surpass its predecessor. To this end, many have started speculating about what might occur in the next entry in the series. Will the Japanese Spider-Man show up? Will Venom make a cameo appearance? Will Mayday Parker finally make her way to the big screen?
It is obvious that the sequel to Into the Spider-Verse will, in some capacity, draw from the comics. The 2018 smash hit drew heavily from Miles Morales' origin story and the storyline Spider-Men while including nods to moments throughout the greater Spider-Man continuity. While Spider-Verse didn't adapt these stories in the strictest sense, it took inspiration from them in order to create an original narrative built on a successful framework.
So what will Spider-Verse 2 draw from? It might be wise for the powers to be to look to two particular stories when drafting the script for the third animated film: the video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions and the controversial yet financially successful comic story Superior Spider-Man.
In this structure, Shattered Dimensions creates the structure through which Spider-Verse 2 can function, while Superior Spider-Man offers some of the story's core heart. In a sense, the two combined comprise external and interpersonal conflicts.
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions features a conflict between Mysterio and Spider-Man over a magical tablet. When the slab breaks apart, it results in a magical shock-wave that scrambles the multiverse. Madame Web assembles a quartet of Spider-Man: 616 Spidey, Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Man Noir, to help travel between dimensions to reassemble different realities before they all collapse.
This story offers a particularly fascinating possibility for Into the Spider-Verse 2. In the prior film, the Spider-Men were the displaced characters. However, using this model, the universes are displaced, offering a contrasting continuity. Consider how last film Kingpin's machine shoved bits of alternate realities into one another. The sequel can then reveal what may have happened after that disturbance occurred. Perhaps, in order to reassemble his universe, Miles Morales needs to travel to different universes in order to split reality apart.
This will allow us to see alternate and fascinating locations, forcing characters to confront how things might have been, for better or worse. The first film saw Peter B. Parker freeze up when confronted with a living Aunt May and a happy Mary Jane. With this scenario, it would be possible to see Miles put into that scenario -- or, rather, explore Gwen Stacy confronting a living Peter Parker or a reality where she's with Peter Parker. Into the Spider-Verse gave audiences a chance to see different Spider-People interacting. This one would allow those Spider-People to experience different worlds.
Mysterio isn't Necessarily the Main Antagonist
If Sony decides to draw from Shattered Dimensions, Mysterio might end up being the main antagonist, but it almost doesn't matter. Mysterio, in the original comics, manages to travel between dimensions already. The film might utilize this dimension-hopping ability in order to establish a common enemy -- that the Mysterio facing off against Miles also fought another Spider-Man in another world, like, say, Peter B. Parker's dimension.
However, Mysterio might only serve as a first-act adversary, responsible for breaking reality. He initiates the conflict of the story but doesn't need to feature throughout. It doesn't necessarily mean that Miles needs to face Mysterio for the whole of the story. Though, that said, maybe he could be the final adversary. Much like the first film with Kingpin, Mysterio doesn't need to be a constant presence in the story. After all, that film features multiple adversaries, from the Prowler to Doc Ock, that are just Kingpin's henchmen. These secondary villains leave a bigger impact on audiences than Kingpin.
Likewise, in Shattered Dimensions, Mysterio plays a relatively small role in the narrative. He initiates the plot and serves as the final boss, but each act in the game features a shard in the possession of another established Spider-Man villain, such as Doctor Octopus or Carnage. That being said, another potential adversary might make a better final villain for this Spider-Man villain: Spider-Man himself.
The Superior Spider-Man storyline features Doctor Octopus taking over Peter Parker's body, assuming complete control of his life in order to survive his own mortality and prove that he'd make a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker. While Ock creates a "better" life for himself by using the potential at Peter's fingers, he alienates all his friends and allies. It gets so bad that even the Venom Symbiote refuses to merge with him because he doesn't recognize the person Spider-Man has become. Eventually, Peter reclaims control over his mind and body, and just in time, because Green Goblin had taken control of New York City under Ock's ignorant nose. The Big Apple then needs Peter Parker to save the day.
The story would allow audiences to see what could happen if a villain had command of the powers of Spider-Man. Can a villain be improved or redeemed by becoming Spider-Man? Would evil flourish when Spider-Man is too obsessed with "improving" his own life and not helping the neighborhood? While the story has many flaws (most notably how precious few people notice Peter isn't acting like himself, even literal mystics and mind-readers), the framework offers a lot of really good material for a full-length story.
Which Ock and Which Spidey?
If this storyline were to be done, this begs the question: which Doc Ock and which Spider-Man would be used? Miles' Doc Ock proved incredibly popular, not only for being gender-swapped but also for being just a great re-interpretation of a classic character. Olivia Octavius should return for the sequel, and end up as a presence, regardless of if they follow the Superior Spider-Man arc. She's an established character who might manage to develop from one film to the next.
Perhaps Olivia crosses into Peter's dimension and, in order to survive, puts her mind into the mind of another Spider-Man. And who is the Spider-Man she could take control of? None other than Peter B. Parker.
Peter B. Parker is the most down-on-his-luck Spider-Man in the history of Spider-Man. His life is so fundamentally collapsed that any "improvement" can be seen as an "improvement." Therefore, Ock should take over Peter B., and "improve" his life. Make him use his brain to make a fortune, get back in shape, among other things. However, none of this makes Peter B. happy. He doesn't get back with Mary Jane or help people in need. In the end, he should give up his "success" in order to pursue his true bliss. Miles and he can figure out a way to either swap Ock back into her own body or just completely regain command of his body.
Superior Spider-Man can be a supporting character or, potentially, be the final antagonist of the film, forcing Miles from the outside and Peter from the inside to confront Ock. Or, perhaps, in order to beat the final boss (possibly Mysterio), they need to bring Peter into command of his own body. All of this offers the framework for a multi-leveled, fascinating story that can serve as a worthy follow-up to an Academy Award-winning film.
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stars Shameik Moore, Brian Tyree Henry, Jake Johnson, Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, Liev Schreiber, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, John Mulaney and Kimiko Glenn. The film is available on Digital HD, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD.