It was recently announced that Jamie Foxx would be reprising his role as Electro in the upcoming Spider–Man MCU film. Last time Foxx played the voltaic villain was in Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), a film that was less than critically acclaimed in the world of Spider–Man movies. While a title has not yet been revealed, this upcoming film will be the third solo Spider–Man film within the MCU, and it will be released within Marvel’s ‘Phase 4’ slate of films and productions.
However, many suspect that this casting decision is teasing something that fans have wanted for years now: a live–action ‘Spiderverse,’ featuring actors from all three Spider–Man franchises. In fact, Sony recently addressed the rumors, stating."Those rumored castings are not confirmed." But that doesn't mean it isn't happening—and a live–action Spiderverse could be a fresh take for a Marvel Cinematic Universe that has a lot of ambiguity regarding its future.
For those who aren’t as versed in the world of Spider–Man, the ‘Spiderverse’ is originally a 2014 comic book series involving multiple versions of Spider–Man coming together to fight a common enemy. The Spiderverse itself is a universe where each reality has its own unique web–slinger. One world’s Spider–Man might be a noir–style mutant who protects New York City against Nazis; another might be an Earth where Peter Parker’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, becomes a web–slinger instead of him. The most recent production involving the Spiderverse was 2018’s Spider–Man: Into the Spiderverse, which was critically acclaimed for groundbreaking animations and its fresh take on Spider–Man storytelling. Some even consider Into the Spiderverse to be the best Spider–Man movie yet, standing out amongst its live–action predecessors.
The profound success of Into the Spiderverse prompted many to question the possibility of a live–action adaptation of this storyline. This would be a very ambitious project for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the results could be huge. First off, the main characters are already established. Fans are familiar with three different Spideys across three separate Spider–Man franchises, so casting wouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, this unification could settle an age–old debate in one viewing. Every new casting of Spider–Man sparks a new discussion of which actor plays the NYC superhero best. Previous Spider–Man movies performed poorly for various reasons, so having all actors within one production could level the playing field for this discussion.
Uniting all three Peter Parkers on screen could not only provide an environment for each actor to prove themselves as a worthy Spidey—it will also unite different fanbases. While each Spider–Man franchise is based on the same premise, there are distinct divides among fans regarding the caliber of each actor, such as the divisive opinion that Tobey Maguire is the best Spider–Man (Hot take: I agree).
This film will also give previous actors another opportunity to shine under a unified Spider–Man story, something that’s never been done in live–action before. Other characters from previous franchises have already reprised their roles in the MCU, like when J.K. Simmons made a cameo as J. Jonah Jameson at the end of Far From Home.
A live–action Spiderverse will serve as the innovation that Marvel needs to keep the MCU at the forefront of box–office success. Avengers: Endgame (2019) was the conclusion for two of the MCU’s biggest characters: Steve Rogers, or Captain America (Chris Evans), and Tony Stark, or Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). With these two household names out of the equation, Marvel needs to make a drastic change to their upcoming slate of films—and this could accomplish just that.
There’s another casting decision that alludes to the possibility of a live–action Spiderverse: Benedict Cumberbatch’s return as the mystical Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange’s return implies that he’ll be the new mentor for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, and will likely need to provide him a quick escape after his secret identity was revealed at the end of Spider–Man: Far From Home (2019). Doctor Strange could easily protect Peter by simply taking him to a different New York City, where no one knows that Peter just got outed as Spider–Man on his own Earth. Of course, this alternate dimension will likely have its own Spidey and villains, leading right into the multiverse narrative.
Sam Raimi, the director of Tobey Maguire’s Spider–Man trilogy, is also directing the upcoming Doctor Strange film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This further propels the multiverse theory forward. There have been attempts to cast doubt towards this theory from those claiming that the upcoming Electro is not the same one from The Amazing Spider–Man 2. However, there’s no substance to this doubt, especially with Electro’s original actor returning to the role. At the time this is being written, there are already rumors that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield have signed on to reprise their respective roles next to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker—but only time will tell whether the multiverse unites the three web–slingers on the big screen for an epic cross–dimensional showdown.