At present, the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Spider-Man and Sony's Venom are a world apart, an uneasy -- and sometimes uncertain -- separation created by the studios' unorthodox co-production deal. That meant 2018's Venom had to create an origin for the alien symbiote that didn't involve Spider-Man, going so far as to remove the white spider emblem from the title character's chest. Although many fans hoped Tom Holland's Peter Parker might have at least a cameo in Venom, as long rumored, one never materialized.
Given the unraveling this week of the collaborative agreement between Sony and Marvel Studios, the primary obstacle presumably has been removed to a meeting between Holland's wall-crawler and Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock. The question is whether Sony will now push forward with the crossover it has wanted for so long, and whether that will change plans for the Venom sequel.
WEB OF VENOM
Despite the erasure of any Spider-Man connections from 2018's Venom, some of the movie's other choices clearly push to use the wall-crawler in the future. For instance, although Venom was initially speculated to be rated R, the eventual PG-13 theatrical release was a good middle ground: Sony's attempt to create a movie different from Marvel's usual fare, while still allowing Spider-Man to not look too out of place if he did show up in later installments.
The script for Venom 2 is currently in progress, with Hardy working alongside screenwriter Kelly Marcel. Many of the ad-libbed bits in Venom were at the behest of a take on the character spawned by Hardy, so this script will more than likely follow that vision. The film is in its early stages, so changes could still come at a creative level and, if they do, there are really two paths that Hardy, Marcel and director Andy Serkis could take with the new opportunities that could be presented by the dissolution of the collaboration deal between Sony and Marvel.
ALONG CAME A SPIDER
The most obvious choice would be to completely scrap whatever ideas are already planned for Venom 2, and instead craft the sequel around Venom finally facing Spider-Man. The interest this would generate for the already anticipated sequel would be through the roof. It would fully cement Sony as the home for Spider-Man, and possibly create another alternative to the current monopoly of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Sony would also be able to finally launch many of the other planned Spider-Man spinoff projects to more anticipation. Many questioned the need for movies about Morbius and Kraven if they were set in a world without the web-slinger. Now, Sony can silence the naysayers by simple virtue of having the horse back in its stable.
One drawback to this might be that those who were anticipating a showdown between Venom and Carnage, as teased in Venom's mid-credits scene, might be disappointed if that plot thread is postponed. A Carnage-based sequel could still involve Spider-Man, but it might also run the risk of being overcrowded.
One form of easy advertising for coming additions that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has capitalized on is the post-credits scene, which the first Venom utilized to introduce Cletus Kasady, the future Carnage.
Sony could do the same thing for Spider-Man in Venom 2, if it chose not to postpone or interrupt the already foreshadowed Carnage storyline. It could also use Easter eggs throughout the movie to establish other elements of the Spider-Man mythology, such as the Daily Bugle or the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane.
That way, not only is a future Venom sequel with Spider-Man established but a wider universe is also gently established to introduce other Spider-Verse characters, such as Black Cat, Silver Sable and Silk.
The only real drawback would be the extended wait to see a fully established Spider-Man on screen in a Sony movie again. To circumvent this, however, the film could even use news clippings of Spider-Man in action, but hopefully without falling into the setup curse of films like The Mummy.
INTO THE ACTOR-VERSE
Another big question for if and when Spider-Man shows up alongside Venom is who will play him. It's unknown if Tom Holland's contract would allow him to continue playing the character in future Sony-produced films, let alone what supporting cast members could also make the jump.
Given how reliant the MCU version of Spider-Man currently is on the rest of that universe's mythology, namely Iron Man, it might be a bad idea to use an actor from a wider universe that you don't have the rights to. Even if Tom Holland played Spider-Man in this new, potential "Sony-verse," it obviously couldn't be the same character from the MCU.
The world of Venom is, so far, inarguably unrelated to the one of The Avengers, immediately scrapping any idea that a Venom-anchored Spider-Man could be the same guy who had to get his costume handed to him by Tony Stark.
The best possibility might be to get Andrew Garfield to reprise the role from The Amazing Spider-Man movies. This would give an already established Spider-Man a new universe to interact with, namely one that isn't dependent on other heroes.
Nothing established in Venom would necessarily contradict the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, either, making it very easy to simply slide them together. Having a more mature take on Spider-Man would also give fans something resembling the acclaimed version from the 2018 Spider-Man video game.
However, Sony may instead elect to recast the character again, giving viewers the fourth live-action Spider-Man in an almost twenty-year period. This choice would obviously be controversial, which wouldn't help alleviate the current reception of Sony severing ties with Marvel Studios, making the use of a returning actor that much more likely.