A year-old comment from Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige, as well as the shock casting of Jamie Foxx as Electro, may hint at a live-action Spider-Verse in Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man 3. On Friday, Foxx appeared to confirm Thursday's report that he will reprise his role as super-charged supervillain Electro after first portraying the character in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a Sony production made without the involvement of Disney-owned Marvel Studios. The sequel's box office performance resulted in Sony and Marvel entering into a pact to reboot Spider-Man, this time as part of the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, agreeing to a five-movie deal started with 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
Last year, after summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home became the highest-grossing Sony Pictures movie and the first Spider-Man movie to cross a billion dollars, the Sony-Marvel deal ended with the release of Far From Home. Attempts to negotiate a new pact with a 50/50 split famously broke down, leaving the MCU without Tom Holland's Spider-Man until both sides reached an agreement in late September.
One year later, Foxx's return sends shockwaves through the Internet, sparking speculation that the Electro of the MCU is the same blue-skinned madman that already menaced Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Some surmise this means Holland's Spider-Man 3 is a live-action Spider-Verse, owing to the success of the animated Sony film that introduced Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore) opposite a roster of inter-dimensional Spider-People.
In a statement announcing the renewed deal late last year, Feige said Spider-Man is "the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold."
Subsequent reports stated Sony and Marvel entered into a "call and answer," which would directly connect the "Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters" to Disney's MCU, home to characters like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Avengers.
Reinforcing this was the surprise return of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), a.k.a. the Vulture of Spider-Man: Homecoming, who attempts to recruit living vampire Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in the first trailer for Sony's Morbius. Also spotted in its trailer: a poster labeling Spider-Man a "murderer," a reference to the events of Far From Home, which ends with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) exposing Spider-Man's secret identity and framing him as a killer.
Eddie Brock actor Tom Hardy, star of Venom and sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage, has repeatedly hinted at a crossover with Spider-Man by publishing — and quickly deleting — gruesome fan-art depicting a showdown between the comic book archenemies.
Holland himself may have hinted at a crossover of some kind late last year, saying the films would only "get bigger and better."
"It's really exciting, the ideas we have for how we can expand the Spider-Man world and bring new characters into it, and crossover with other people," Holland said during an August convention appearance. "And it's only going to get bigger and better from here, which is great."
In the manner that previous phases of the MCU prominently featured the Infinity Stones, a storyline that reached a climax in Avengers: Endgame, the currently on-pause Phase 4 is emphasizing the concept of alternate dimensions, or the Multiverse.
Inter-dimensional trickery is afoot in WandaVision, the first Marvel Studios series premiering later this year on Disney+, and both WandaVision and the time-traveling Loki tie into the Sam Raimi-directed Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That film, due out in 2022, teams Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and will tap into the infinite realities making up the Multiverse.
Foxx seemed to hint at Spider-Verse in a since-deleted Instagram post, where the actor also revealed the MCU's Electro "won't be blue" this time around.
It remains unclear if this is the Electro who appeared to perish at the end of Amazing Spider-Man 2, or if this is an instance of reusing the same actor for a different spin on a character. J.K. Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, returned as the MCU version of Jameson in Far From Home.
Feige, who did not produce Amazing Spider-Man 2 but did give feedback in a 2013 email, told Sony executives he "really love[s] Electro."
Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man 3 opens in theaters on December 17, 2021.