Does 2021 Have 5 MCU Marvel Movies Now?

With Sony Pictures planting its flag in October of 2021 for an "Untitled Marvel movie," the question of whether or not this means a fifth Marvel movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a valid talking point. Next year was already slated to have three Marvel Studios productions set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe's continuity, in addition to a joint effort between Marvel Studios and Sony for a third film in the Spider-Man: Homecoming saga. Now, Sony has added a second Marvel title to the year and, on the heels of an intriguing moment from the Morbius trailer and other hints spotted on Sony movie sets, it's possible the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be expanding further in 2021.

Initially, it appeared as though Sony's Marvel titles weree going to be set in an isolated big screen world. Venom, Morbius, and the likes would tell their own stories, operating independently of stories set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where Tom Holland's Spider-Man exists. The perception was shattered when Michael Keaton appeared in the trailer for Morbius, reprising his role as Adrian Toomes from Spider-Man: Homecoming. In one way or another, Morbius is connected to that Marvel Cinematic Universe story. Furthermore, the Morbius trailer featured a photo of Spider-Man, albeit an image of the suit worn by Tobey Maguire as it appeared in the Spider-Man video game, with "murderer" written on it. A public hatred of Spider-Man falls in line with his framing as a killer in the post-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Then, in photos from the production of Morbius, a logo for the Daily Bugle was spotted. On the side of a bus, the in-universe media company's ads came complete with a "Where is Spider-Man?" tag, furthering the aftermath of Peter Parker's identity being revealed while being framed for killing Mysterio.

It is unclear whether this is some sort of agreed upon deal between Sony and Disney, as the two studios struck a deal in 2019 which allowed Holland's Spider-Man to tell at least two more stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of those stories comes in the form of a Spider-Man movie and the other in an appearance in another Marvel Studios title. Since then, it is clear that Sony is, at the very least, aiming to operate its stories adjacently to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is a smart play by Sony, assuming there is no more expansive deal in place between the studios, especially in the aftermath of Spider-Man: Far From Home. The film is the highest grossing Spider-Man title at the box office, with seven total in existence, largely because it served as an epilogue to Avengers: Endgame -- the biggest movie of all-time. Argue that as you might, the proof is in the buzz for the Morbius trailer. The film was not generating much social media traction or traffic to sites covering it outside of a deep Marvel fan base but -- the moment Keaton showed up as his Marvel Cinematic Universe character -- the buzz skyrocketed.

With the proof of Marvel Cinematic Universe having a built-in audience, it would seem Sony is going to begin playing with the idea of operating within that world or acting as if they are without crossing any legal barriers. Like in Marvel Comics, Sony's Spider-Man stories can be told in New York City or other parts of the world, never interfering with other Avengers or calling for them to get involved, and being just as compelling on their own. The question is whether or not Sony will be able to pull of building out their Spider-Verse on the big screen and if audiences will be able to keep up with the shared or not shared stories.

When Morbius hits theaters later this year, this whole thing will get a lot more clear as Keaton's role will either be the exact same one from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (thus, connecting the film's the MCU) or is an alternate universe version of the character which can't be ruled out with so many multiverse stories existing in comics and coming to the movies.

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If Sony's films are set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then there are five films continuing stories in that world in 2021, in addition to an onsalught of shows on Disney+.

Do you think Sony's Marvel movies should be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Instagram and Twitter!

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