Wow. We thought the concept of a Marvel Cinematic Universe was ambitious enough in 2008. Now, we are getting a Marvel Cinematic Multiverse – with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Men rumored to be in tow… Kevin Feige reaches out for cinematic gold once again.
The beauty of Loki is that it isn’t exclusively a vehicle for six hours of Tom Hiddleston goodness. While it has plenty of that, the show serves as something of an undercover pilot for Marvel’s Multiverse. Sylvie’s offing of The One Who Remains in Loki‘s ending ensures that the MCU is set to become the MCMU before long.
This begs many questions. How will Feige and his team integrate a whole multiverse into their storytelling? When you have an infinite number of universes in your hand, how will you use them? To what extent does Marvel plan to use this as an opportunity for fan service? Such as…you know, Spider-Man?
Ever since rumors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were reprising their roles as their respective Spider-Men in Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been alive with excitement. The delicate strings of nostalgia played in the background of social media as Spider-followers enthused about the prospect of three Spider-Men joining forces in a Marvel movie. However, regarding the hypothetical cast, we’ve received mixed messages.
Both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have denied returning to reprise Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, respectively. Even Tom Holland, notorious for his loose lips on all things Marvel, denied the previous Spider-Men are involved in his superhero threequel. However, Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina have confirmed they are playing their roles as Electro and Doc Ock in No Way Home. So, what gives? Is the anticipation-whetting prospect of a Spider-Man crossover reality or fiction?
It could well be that Garfield and Stone are simply attempting to remain tight-lipped on their involvement. Or perhaps the villains are returning, but the heroes are not? At this point, it’s hard to say until we actually watch the film. The internet’s relentless sea of information is hard to decipher in terms of validity.
Loki’s Ending Created A Multi-Verse of Opportunity
That said, if Marvel is planning to reintroduce Maguire and Garfield, Loki has paved the way. Fan-service is a tool modern storytellers love to utilize for money-generating benefit. In order to realize this, we need only turn to the small screen of superheroes – the CWVerse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths brought back Superman alums Brandon Routh and Tom Welling to cameo. They even got Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy to play an older Bruce Wayne. Regardless of your stance on the story, you can’t deny the ability fanservice has to rope in those nostalgic views.
Therefore, given its proven effectiveness, Marvel is likely to integrate it themselves. And they needn’t stop at Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, either. Before Feige created Marvel’s cinematic empire, many of their iconic heroes had already proven themselves Box Office magnets in feature films. From Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk to the two Fantastic Four movies directed by Tim Story in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Hell, even Nicholas Cage’s Ghost Rider movies have material to draw from.
Now, these films may not necessarily be as heralded as, say, Raimi’s Spider-Man films. But even if their quality is debated, just look at Into the Spider-Verse 2. The Spider-Man from the oft-derided Japanese TV Series is set to appear in this animated flick. Even if the films are bad, Marvel can reuse these characters to poke fun at their flaws as a meta-way or improve upon where they went wrong. One hopes they do the latter with Jamie Foxx’s Electro (who, let’s face it, wasn’t the brightest star in his initial film).
All Together Now
As well as giving us fan-servicey cameos and Easter eggs, the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse has the potential to offer an even more trying threat for our heroes to confront. A villain that transcends universes and wants the power to rule them. It’ll be hard to overshadow Thanos, whose motivations were ambitious enough, but if even anyone can do it, Marvel can.
In Loki‘s ending, He Who Remains is the variant of Kang the Conqueror. Kang himself, a time-traveling villain from the comics, is set to debut in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Now, to defeat a powerful time-traveling villain, it’s likely the universes require heroes from each of their respective universes. This would include the Spider-Men of Sony’s past Spider-Movies.
Due to Marvel’s self-awareness and meta-style, one wonders whether we will see a first glimpse of the Spider-Men in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Why? Because Sam Raimi, who directed Sony’s first Spider-Man trilogy, is helming it. After all, since the famous Spider-Man director himself is directing the film, why not have him direct an after-credits scene cameoing Tobey Maguire? It would be a clever tongue-in-cheek way to introduce the first Hollywood Spider-Man to the MCU.
The Dangers of Spider-Man Fanservice
Of course, fanservice is all well and good. But how can Marvel integrate it in a way that feels natural to the story? Loki‘s ending may well have opened the door to a cinematic multiverse. But Feige and Co. shouldn’t screw up the opportunity they have here.
It would be easy to shoehorn Maguire and Garfield into No Way Home, write some banter and jokes and references to their films. It would be just as easy to throw them into a meaningless CGI-animated boss fight against some villains. But the first question Marvel needs to ask is: how will Maguire and Garfield’s appearances make Tom Holland’s Peter Parker a better Spider-Man?
Much of MCU Peter’s journey is about learning to be a hero. So, the relative experience of Maguire and Garfield’s Parkers should be used to teach Peter profound lessons. Maybe the pair can help Peter realize what it truly means to be a hero, to be Spider-Man. Whatever it is, the filmmakers need to create a story with purpose – not just carelessly chuck in famous faces for an easy cash grab.
Looking to the future of the Spider-Man franchise
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse shows us how a good Spider-Man story can be. It introduces a lot of Spider-Men (and even makes occasional call-backs to the Raimiverse) yet still manages to tell a compelling story. How does it manage this? It focuses on the emotional complexity of its characters and ties it to a central theme. All the Spider-People in the aforementioned movie have lost someone dear to them, but they’ve learned to keep going despite their tragedies. They’ve learned to leap of faith despite the obstacles that confront them.
Much of the tale of Spider-Man is about a young man coming of age. A young man who realizes, through tragedy, the consequences of misusing one’s great power. A young man who learns from this tragedy that with great power, there must also come great responsibility. He then spends the rest of his life making up for his mistakes. It would be wise for Marvel to implement what makes the web-slinger great into its potential multiverse film promised in Loki’s ending.
Are you looking forward to a potential Spider-Man team-up with Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland? Let us know in the comments below!