Earlier this week, news came in that Jamie Foxx's Electro would be returning in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) Spider-Man 3. Now we've had confirmation that Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange will also be joining Tom Holland's Spidey.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the Sorcerer Supreme will step into the breach, presumably to fill the mentor gap left behind by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Word has it that Spider-Man 3 will directly connect to the next Doctor Strange solo movie, In The Multiverse of Madness, which suggests all kinds of giddily exciting crossover possibilities.
Certainly, the presence of Foxx's Electro suggests a broadening of the MCU horizons. The character was introduced in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a Sony property with no affiliation to the Disney-distributed MCU. Does this suggest that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield could also be reprising their Spider-Man roles?
If so, it would be a huge step forward for the occasionally fractious Disney/Sony collaboration, which last year threatened to melt down altogether. Sony owns the rights to the Marvel character, and only via complex contractual negotiations was Tom Holland's Peter Parker allowed to make his debut appearance in 2016 MCU movie Captain America: Civil War. Since then, he's spearheaded two blockbusting solo movies: 2017's Homecoming and 2019's Far From Home.
In 2018, the critically acclaimed, visually exuberant and brilliantly meta animation Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse tapped into a global hunger for all things multiverse-related. That film mixed up various Spider-Man characters to surreal and memorable effect, but the trick has never been carried off in live-action form. Could that be about to change?
Fans online are already bracing themselves for the possibility of a Holland/Garfield/Maguire triage. And they're also hoping that Shameik Moore's Miles Morales from the aforementioned Spider-Verse (another Sony movie) will be thrown into the mix.
Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts will return for Holland's third, and presumably final, MCU solo movie. We're on tenterhooks to discover what happened after Far From Home's climax, in which Spider-Man's true identity was leaked to the wider world. In a further twist, non-MCU character J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) made his first appearance since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movie trilogy came to an end in 2007.
Talking of Raimi, he's set to helm the aforementioned In the Multiverse of Madness. He will be taking over from original Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson. The film is scheduled to come out on 25th March 2022, preceded by Spider-Man 3 on 17th December 2021.
Already, we have so many questions about the end of the MCU's Phase Four period, and the directions the franchise may take in Phase Five. As it stands, In the Multiverse of Madness will be the final Phase Four MCU movie, leading into Black Panther 2 on 8th May 2022 (film schedules permitting). Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 has also got a release date, scheduled for 7th October 2022.
Where do you think the MCU is headed in terms of the multiverse idea? Let us know @Cineworld.