Ever since the news broke of Spider-Man’s exit from the MCU, fans have hoped that it was something that was going to be resolved in due course.
That seems not to be the case, though, as Sony Pictures chairman Tony Vinciquerra recently said that “the door is closed” for a Spidey MCU return, although he did hint at a resolution in the future: “It’s a long life.”
But after this high-profile split, that’s not likely to happen any time soon – and certainly not in time for Phase 4. So how does Spider-Man‘s MCU departure affect the current plans for Marvel’s next big phase?
Well, according to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Spidey’s story is done so it won’t really affect Phase 4.
“It was never meant to last forever. We knew there was a finite amount of time that we’d be able to do this, and we told the story we wanted to tell, and I’ll always be thankful for that,” he explained.
Says him. But there’s no doubt that Spider-Man: Far From Home was setting up future MCU movies.
If the post-credits scene with Nick Fury in space weren’t a big enough sign, then here’s what Feige had to say about the sequel: “There are a large number [of Easter eggs] that point to future MCU stories [and] that point to future Spider-Man stories.”
It’s something that was echoed by director Jon Watts when Digital Spy spoke to him about the sequel.
“I know some of the direction as to where things are going, but in terms of how it affected this film, yeah I’d say there are definitely some hints of where Phase 4 might be headed,” he explained.
Feige even spoke about how the reveal of Spider-Man’s identity was setting up a “Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film”, so it certainly feels as though Marvel were gearing up for Spider-Man 3.
And sure, Spider-Man 3 wasn’t among the Phase 4 movies announced at Comic-Con, but it was never Marvel’s place to announce that.
After the billion-dollar success of Far From Home, a third solo outing for Tom Holland is almost guaranteed to happen.
Some fans even thought Feige’s comment of “11 projects in two years” (when only 10 were announced) was a hint that Spider-Man 3 was a part of Phase 4.
In truth, without an Avengers movie on the horizon, Phase 4 probably hasn’t been all that affected by the sudden disappearance of Spider-Man. (It’s like Avengers: Infinity War‘s ending all over again…)
Phase 4 is bringing new superheroes into the MCU in the form of Shang-Chi and the Eternals, while Spidey probably wasn’t going to pop up in either Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Panther 2 or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
But a future Avengers movie as and when it happens will have to address the Spidey-shaped elephant in the room. It could be a simple fix of, “Oh, we just let him get on with his life, rather than constantly put him in life-threatening danger”. It will need to be explained, though, as the fans will certainly point it out.
The other elements of Far From Home shouldn’t prove too much of an issue for Phase 4 to side-step.
Nick Fury had been keeping an eye on Spider-Man (well, he got Talos to do it), but he’s got plenty of other things to worry about.
Mysterio’s reveal of Spider-Man’s identity is a big thing, sure, but not too much of a concern for the likes of Thor, Black Panther and Doctor Strange as everyone knows who they are anyway.
And since Mysterio turned out to be lying about the multiverse, then it opens up the stage for the Doctor Strange sequel to establish what the MCU’s version of a mulitverse actually looks like.
If anything, Spider-Man’s MCU exit is more of an issue for Spider-Man 3 and the continued story of Holland’s Peter Parker.
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His arc to date has been closely intertwined with Iron Man, but now, we imagine, any future movies will have to completely ignore his late mentor/father figure.
What happens now to the J Jonah Jameson reveal from Far From Home too? Maybe it’ll just be restricted to a wonderful cameo and little more, otherwise JK Simmons is going to have the unique opportunity to play the same character across three different universes.
It’s not been made official yet whether the third Spider-Man movie can continue the same storyline from the previous two movies. We’d imagine it can, minus the MCU references, because Sony co-produced both movies with Marvel Studios, so if there was a planned storyline for the third outing, they can probably keep it.
But it’ll be a strange, potentially unsatisfying, resolution to Peter’s arc if he’s no longer able to mention Tony Stark, Happy Hogan or even Nick Fury.
Hopefully Peter will be able to keep his sweet new suit, made with Stark technology, at least.