Spider-fans are rejoicing, as it looks like the Spider-verse we deserve is finally coming to the big screen. After two separate Spider-franchises created by Sony, the web-slinger joined the larger MCU last year in Captain America: Civil War thanks to a rights-sharing deal hammered out by the two studios. Now, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is getting his own solo movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming (out this month), and the early reviews are incredibly positive. Spider-Man has come home, and everyone is excited to see him teaming up with the Avengers in the MCU where he belongs.
At the same time, Sony has revealed plans for an expanded universe of Spider-Man characters, starting with a Venom movie set for release next year. This stand-alone film will not feature Peter Parker himself, and instead stars Tom Hardy as the Eddie Brock version of Venom, facing off against the villainous Carnage. Also in the works is a female-fronted Spider-film, centered on Black Cat and Silver Sable, titled Silver & Black. It’s clear that Sony has big plans for their Spider-Man characters, but what isn’t clear is how this fits into the larger MCU, or whether Holland’s Peter Parker will be joining Sony’s own Marvel universe.
Based on all the evidence, it appears that Venom won’t be explicitly connected to the MCU, but it also won’t be explicitly disconnected – leaving the option open for Marvel to potentially bring the character into the fold if his solo movie proves to be a success. Read on for a recap of the various (and changing) “official” statements on the subject.
Tom Holland Is All In
Tom Holland himself has been asked about the possibility of appearing in both the MCU and the Sony Spider-verse, and if the young star had anything to do with it, he’d be involved in both. In an interview for Homecoming, Holland confirmed that he is primarily based in the MCU, but that he would jump at the chance to work with Tom Hardy:
“That’s something that’s not up to me, I am the MCU’s Spider-Man, I exist in a world with the Avengers. If Venom exists in that world, I don’t really know the answer to that question. I don’t think he does. But yeah, any opportunity to work with Tom Hardy, I’d jump to it.”
He’s also praised Hardy’s casting, saying that the actor has “a lot of energy, a lot of life. It can be a very cool movie”. Holland is obviously enthusiastic about the project, and about the idea of appearing alongside Hardy in Sony’s universe. Of course, that’s not saying much, as Holland is endearingly enthusiastic about every part of his journey into the Marvel family, and would obviously love to appear in more films as Spider-Man. And, as he himself points out, it’s simply not up to him.
Marvel Confirms Separate Universes
After the initial announcement, things seemed clear: the MCU Spider-Man and the Sony Spider-verse were not to be connected. Sony’s universe would be entirely separate, and not include Holland’s Peter Parker. First, Kevin Feige, head of Marvel studios, was crystal clear on the separation;
“For now, there is no plan for Venom in the MCU. It’s a Sony Project.”
Then, Homecoming director Jon Watts weighed in, also confirming that his movie would not be connected in any way with the Venom film.
“It’s not. It’s not connected to the Marvel world, so that’s really intriguing… what that will be. I don’t know anything about it. It’s not connected, so there’s not that overlap. I’m only focused on my movie right now.”
Everyone at Marvel seemed united: Sony’s expanded Spider-Verse is not a part of the MCU. And while this was disappointing news for fans who wanted to see other Spider-Man characters absorbed into the MCU, it also made a lot of sense. Sony seems to be focusing on other characters, having already done the Peter Parker origin story to death, and fans are thrilled to see other members of the Spider-verse getting some much-deserved attention. In addition, the MCU is a giant, complex beast of a universe at this point, and keeping the Spider-verse separate allows Sony more creative freedom. Simple, right? Except that Sony themselves seemed to have other ideas about where it all fit together.
Sony Confuses The Issue
Despite Feige’s clarity on the separation between Venom and MCU, representatives from Sony started to confuse fans by giving a very different answer to the same question. Spider-Man franchise producer Amy Pascal claimed that not only is Venom in the same world as Holland’s Spider-Man, but that crossovers had been discussed and that Holland may appear in other Sony Spider-movies.
“Those movies will all take place in the world that we are now creating for Peter Parker. They’ll be adjuncts to it, they may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world, and they’ll be connected to each other as well.”
This statement sent the comic-movie fandom into a spin, as Pascal’s comment directly contradicts Feige’s. However, Pascal then retracted her statement, with a claim that she was not placing Venom in the MCU, but was instead meaning that they were all part of the same Marvel comics universe. It’s a retraction that raised some eyebrows, and seems to suggest that Sony and Marvel may have some slightly different ideas about how the rights-sharing deal will pan out.
Where Does This Leave Spider-Verse And The MCU?
Most recently, Feige and Pascal found some common ground with the maddeningly vague comment that Venom and the other Sony characters will not be seen in the MCU, but that it is the same “reality”. This came from Pascal during the Homecoming press tour, and was immediately backed up be Feige, who called it “the perfect answer”.
“First, there is Spider-Man happily in the place where he’s supposed to be which is in the Marvel Universe. I think everything comes from that. This is the signpost, the tentpole, the signature and… the other movies that Sony’s going to make, in their relationship to this [MCU] Spider-Man, take place in this [separate Sony] world. Although you’re not going to see them in the Marvel Universe, it’s in the same reality.”
Pascal seems to be reverting to Feige’s original position, that the Sony Spider-Verse is not part of the MCU, but also seems to be suggesting that they are not entirely separate either. While this statement was meant as a clarification, it left fans scratching their heads.
What seems clear is that Sony and Marvel aren’t entirely on the same page about how Venom will fit into the MCU, and there is a good chance that this is down to Marvel. Sony is keen to include Holland’s Spider-Man in their Spider-Verse because it looks like Homecoming is going to be a huge success, and the studio will want to capitalize on that. However, Marvel may be holding back to see if Venom is also going to be a success before committing to a connection. Should Venom be another R-rated superhero success story, it’s possible that it may be inducted into the MCU after the fact, and that Holland will be able to make future cameo appearances in the Sony universe. If, however, Venom becomes a Fantastic Four level flop, it will remain separate from Marvel’s much more successful cinematic universe.
In practical terms, what this means is that Venom is currently not confirmed as either part of the MCU, or separate from it. Holland’s Peter Parker may well show up in Spider-Verse films in future, but that’s not guaranteed. And the success or failure of Venom is probably going to be the decider.
For the story, this could mean a couple of things. The most likely scenario is that the Venom movie is either going to completely ignore Spider-Man, or simply mention him in passing. Given Eddie Brock’s obsession with getting ‘revenge’ on Spider-Man for the perceived wrongs he has done to Brock, it would be difficult to create the character without even a mention of Spidey, but it’s very possible that we will see Venom at a later point in time, when his history with Spider-Man is less important. Rather than seeing Spider-Man on screen, any mentions of him will be vague enough to allow for either Holland’s Peter Parker to become a part of later films, or for a new Spider-Man to be cast if it is decided that Sony’s universe will be entirely separate.
Similarly, this storyline will take place within a limited enough space that it could be part of the MCU, and nothing will directly contradict the events of the MCU or tie the film to it. It’s possible that Sony will include an Easter Egg or two, but nothing overt, until Marvel decides which way it wants to land on this issue. In short, everyone involved is just going to have to wait and see, and fans who want to see Venom, Black Cat, and Silver Sable in the MCU in the future should cross their fingers that Venom knocks it out of the park.
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