The crisis surrounding Spider-Man's movie future may be over for now, but fans will want to know: Sony's new Madame Web movie can help write Peter Parker out of the MCU, if the studios need an exit strategy.
All attention may be on the hero, but Sony Pictures is still continuing their plans to develop a Spider-Man spinoff universe, as well. That began with the remarkable and unexpected success of Venom, which grossed over $856 million in the global box office. A Morbius the Living Vampire movie starring Jared Leto is set to hit theaters in July 2020. And Venom 2 is in the works with director Andy Serkis attached and Hardy returning in a starring role to battle against Carnage and his lover, Shriek. But some of Sony's ideas are a little more... unexpected.
Probably the most surprising recent example was the news that Sony has set Morbius writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless to pen the script for a Madame Web movie as part of the studio's own Marvel franchise. A strange choice, evoking memories of just how confused Sony's vision for a shared universe once was (even discussing a movie about Peter Parker's Aunt May). But, while it is possible Sony's plans are still as unorthodox, it's also possible they have a long-term strategy in place, since a Madame Web movie could help solve a particularly difficult problem going forward.
Marvel and Sony Have A Spider-Man Problem
Marvel and Sony have reached a new deal keeping Spider-Man in the MCU for now. But where the previous agreement was viewed as the launch of something new, this latest re-up comes with a time limit, running for just two more films: Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 due in July 2021 and bringing an end to Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy, and another mystery Marvel movie. Meanwhile, Kevin Feige has hinted Sony themselves have some level of access to Spider-Man in this new agreement, as "the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes," Feige observed in an official statement. Teasing that "you never know what surprises the future might hold," it looks as though Spider-Man will join Sony's villains universe as well.
At this stage, it's unclear how Spider-Man can be in both the MCU and Sony's universe. It seems unlikely that Marvel will allow Sony's films to become part of the wider MCU, so there are really only two possibilities. Either Spider-Man could wind up jumping between the dimensions, or Spider-Man's mystery movie will place him in some Multiversal event, say a "Secret Wars" Avengers movie, that will end with him being lost in the Multiverse. That would allow Marvel Studios to finish Spider-Man's MCU story, before having him shift to his own Sony universe. But if that's the approach Marvel and Sony intend to take, then Sony will do well to increase their own Multiversal plans... and Madame Web may be that key.
Madame Web Brings In 'The Web of Destiny'
The most well-known version of Madame Web a.k.a. Cassandra Webb was born blind and suffering from myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles. She compensated for her physical frailty by possessing tremendous psychic powers, showing an innate ability to tell the past, present and future. The comics eventually went much further, revealing she actually possessed a mystical link to an interdimensional force known as the Web of Life and Destiny.
The Web of Life and Destiny serves as the connective tissue holding time and space together; essentially it creates the Multiverse, holding the past, present, possible futures, and all other dimensions in place. That's why Madame Web can perceive so much; because she has a connection to the Web of Life and Destiny, a preternatural awareness of all that is, was, and could yet be. Marvel has recently revealed that Spider-Man's spider-sense operates in a similar way, explaining that it's far more than a mere "danger sense." And most interestingly, audiences already got a glimpse of the Web at work in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Web of Destiny Could Get Spider-Man Out Of The MCU
Marvel's current Spider-Verse comic event kicked off with the revelation that the Web of Destiny can be used to move any version of Spider-Man across the Multiverse. The comics consider every universe's Spider-Man to be what they call a "Spider Totem," an entity who has been linked to the Web of Life and Destiny, whether by magic means or by science. Spider-Verse #1 saw one alternate universe Spider-Man called 'Spider-Zero' use Miles Morales's specific arachnofrequency to locate his precise position in the time-space continuum, and then extract him against his will. Which is far more similar to how the classic 1990s Spider-Man animated series used Madame Web than anyone would assume.
In that animated show, Madame Web had an innate awareness of Spider-Man's location and destiny at all times, and she could send him on Multiversal jaunts with just a wave of her telepathic hand. This may well explain why Sony is so interested in Madame Web; because she could provide a solution to their multiversal Spider-Man problem. It's not hard to imagine a situation where Madame Web senses the need for a Spider Totem, and draws Peter Parker out of his own (MCU branded) universe, and into the one inhabited by characters like Venom and Morbius. Alternatively, depending on how Marvel choose to end Spider-Man's MCU story, it would work just as effectively to have Peter Parker experiencing some cosmic awareness, sending him stranded into the strands of the Web of Life and Destiny--with only Madame Web possessing the knowledge to get him back to Terra Firma.
Sure, it may be to a different Earth from the one he started on, but it solves a difficult problem, while also giving Sony's Spider-Man a new story hook viewers will want to see explored. She may seem like the odd woman out in Sony's plan, but Madame Web may well be more important to Spider-Man's MCU story than anyone has realized.
- Morbius (2020) release date: Jul 31, 2020