The Bigger Meaning of Spider-Man 3 Casting Surprises

It seems like there are more actors playing Marvel heroes in Spider-Man 3 than there aren't with [...]

It seems like there are more actors playing Marvel heroes in Spider-Man 3 than there aren't with all of the rumors and reports surfacing in recent weeks. The Tom Holland film which follows up the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and WandaVision is going to be a game-changer for the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Should the word of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, Charlie Cox, and more returning to their respective Marvel roles turn out to be true (undoubtedly, at least some of them are going to be accurate, if not all), it would seem there is something bigger in play. While everyone is hyper-focused on a Spider-Verse story coming to the live-action stories, the next major saga and event film from Marvel Studios might be teed up right here.

A version of a Spider-Verse tale is clearly developing. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a massive hit. The Academy Award-winning animated film followed Miles Morales in a multiverse story with multiple Peter Parker characters and showed what happens when characters from alternate universes collide into the same world. In one way or another, it looks like Tom Holland's Peter Parker is going to experience something similar to what Shameik Moore's Miles Morales went through. Still, it is not known how heavily any Spider-Man characters from alternate worlds will be featured in Spider-Man 3 or if Peter is simply going on a short multiversal road trip with Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange simply to confirm their co-existence.

The idea of introducing these co-existing universes to Spider-Man 3's sure-to-be-massive audience could be the key to Marvel's next big event movie event: Secret Wars.

Secret Wars
(Photo: Marvel)

Secret Wars is a big concept from Marvel Comics which sees heroes from several different universes being pulled together in a battle. There have been different versions of the Secret Wars story, with the original calling from characters for the main Marvel universe being transported to Battleworld a fight against a faction of villains. In the more recent Secret Wars, heroes and villains from different realities find themselves on Battleword. This latter version, a run written by Jonathan Hickman in 2015, has earned quite a bit of favor from fans, and even Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have expressed interest in it being adapted to the big screen.

Ahead of mainstream audiences buying a ticket to see a Secret Wars movie, they will have to be introduced to the idea of alternate universes. Avengers: Endgame touched on the theories in a conversation between the Ancient One and Bruce Banner. Spider-Man: Far From Home outright described the theory as a whole but ultimately made Mysterio a liar and invalidated the theory just as quickly as it was introduced. WandaVision and Spider-Man 3, however, are going to truly introduce alternate worlds before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness goes all in.

Why is this so important? Because Secret Wars can not only introduce new versions of heroes both that we've already met and that we have not on the big screen yet. However, Secret Wars can also pull from previous Marvel movie or TV franchises, taking its pick at characters and cast members, and putting them on the big screen together once and for all. This is how Marvel answers Wong's question of "You wanted more?" in Avengers: Endgame with, "Yes."

wolverine claws homemade
(Photo: 20th Century Fox)

The multiverse is how Hugh Jackman is invited back to play Wolverine again in a story that would not resurrect him from a grand finale in Logan and send him back to that X-Men movie universe to carry out that legacy with no need to continue in the MCU. This is how some of the Netflix characters gets invited to the Marvel Cinematic Universe without the full baggage of The Defenders. Chris Evans could briefly reprise his role as the Human Torch from the forgettable Fantastic Four movies or Ben Affleck could get a quick appearance as Daredevil. Robert Downey Jr. could play an alternate universe's Tony Stark without having to resurrect the character in the main universe's canon or keep him around beyond Secret Wars. We can check in on Wesley Snipes' portrayal of Blade after the trilogy or invite him to the party. Chloe Bennet can get another crack at Daisy Johnson from Agents of SHIELD. The almost-castings of Tom Cruise as Iron Man, Emily Blunt as Black Widow, or John Krasinski as Captain America can be realized for an exciting moment in time. Not to mention, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield amongst the other previous Spider-Man franchise cast playing their parts in all of this, as well.

All of these can happen, none of them can come true, or some combination might be brought to the movies. The multiverse possibilities are endless but the mainstream audience has to be trained to understand it. Spider-Man 3 seems to be taking another step in opening all of our eyes to something bigger.

Spider-Man 3 is set for release on December 17, 2021.