Marvel to Break New Ground for Superhero Movies With Unexpected Crossover Feature

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(left to right) Bugs Bunny from Space Jam, Tom Holland's Spider-Man, Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, edited together

Credit: Inside the Magic

Under the guidance of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and presently under the umbrella of The Walt Disney Company, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has played a pivotal role in reshaping the superhero film landscape. Its impact on the film industry has been deep and widespread. The MCU has achieved remarkable success, particularly evident in the culmination of Marvel Studios’ Phase Three through the releases of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). These films marked the pinnacle of the MCU’s expansive Infinity Saga, solidifying the franchise’s dominance in the world of filmmaking.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) dying looking at Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in 'Avengers: Endgame'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Spider-Man’s Own Definitive Ranking of the ‘Spider-Man’ Movies

Spider-Man has occupied a cherished spot in the hearts of comic book fans for many years. There likely no superhero as immediately recognized (and beloved) than the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, who has consistently symbolized the lively urban landscape of New York City. The classic tale of young Peter Parker facing off against supervillains while also managing the intricacies of his own life, family, and relationships is something many are familiar with. This incredibly popular Marvel Comics hero hasn’t just graced the silver screen once or twice, but three times in recent memory.

Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man looking back from a conspiracy board covered in articles, pictures, and red yarn
Credit: Sony Pictures, Marvel

That’s just in the Marvel Studios’ MCU, however. The film legacy of Spider-Man goes even further back — and it’s hasn’t been isolated to merely the live-action realm.

Marvel’s Next Big Plan Starts With Spidey

Thanks to a fortunate collaboration between Sony, the rights holder of “Spider-Man”, and The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Studios, a monumental event took place in Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) — and a precedent was set for Multiversal crossovers.

(right to left) Andrew Garfield, Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire variants of Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Spider-Man logo; Marvel Studios
Credit: Inside the Magic

This film marked a groundbreaking moment as it brought together different live-action film versions of Spider-Man/Peter Parker, portrayed by Tobey Maguire (from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies), Andrew Garfield (from The Amazing Spider-Man franchise), and Tom Holland (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s portrayal of young Peter Parker). This thrilling crossover was made possible within the Multiverse Saga storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), delighting both Marvel fans and moviegoers alike with exhilarating Spidey action amidst the convergence of multiple realities.

But the MCU was not the only place where the Spider-Verse, featuring multiple Multiversal variants of Spider-People, had been thrown wide open.

The Newest Marvel Experiment

What’s the next big Marvel experiment going to be? Well it appears like it has to do with the upcoming Avengers: Endgame spiritual sequel, Avengers: Secret Wars — and reports from insider @CanWeGetSomeToast tell us that Kevin Feige is prepared to blow the established live-action canon totally out of the water.

Miles Morales running in 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'
Credit: Sony Pictures

In recent times, it’s not just the MCU that has gained major traction at the box office. The animated Spider-Verse within Sony Pictures Entertainment has gained incredible popularity, starting with the groundbreaking launch of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. In this movie, Shameik Moore brings Miles Morales to life, also known as Spider-Man, whose original world’s Peter Parker (Chris Pine) tragically meets his end at the hands of Wilson Fisk, also known as Kingpin (Liev Schreiber). Miles uncovers a nefarious plot involving his uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali), who transforms into the villain Prowler. He joins forces with various Spider-People from alternate dimensions to save the world, including Jake Johnson as Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man and Hailee Steinfeld (who also plays Kate Bishop in the MCU) as Gwen Stacy AKA Spider-Woman.

Of course, this story was recently followed up with the even more successful (and potential Oscar Best Picture Winner?) Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which released on June 2, 2023. With this success, it appears that Marvel Studios were in fact checking with audiences just how much they loved certain crossover elements found in the film.

@CanWeGetSomeToast shares that Donald Glover’s real-life, live-action debut in the most recent Spider-Verse film actually had an ulterior purpose, and that audiences should be prepared for “more of this in the future”:

This and Donald Glover’s Prowler weren’t just fun cameos. They were a test for mixing live action and animation, and it went REALLY well.

Expect more of this in the future…👀

What does this mean? Well, that Kevin Feige is likely planning to cross the streams in Secret Wars and integrate the animated Spider-Verse continuity with that of the live-action MCU.

Glover has already appeared in the live-action 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as the MCU’s version of the Prowler AKA Miles Morales’ Uncle Aaron, and again Across the Spider-Verse. Interestingly, based on the way the animated film’s various Multiverse Variants are portrayed, it seems like universe-hopping individuals retain the “style” of their home plane. Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) or the Space Jam film series (1996, 2003, 2021). This confirms that all of these Spider-Man Variants share the same “Multiverse”, and that these characters are likely to interact again.

As users like @tfd_jrdy believe:

Just can’t believe it had never been done before

What do you think about the MCU mixing animation with live-action? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Featuring a story about a young Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as he faces the aftermath of the universe-altering events depicted in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the Chris Miller and Phil Lord-led Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, breaks animation boundaries — all while acknowledging the existence of the MCU (and therefore basically canon to it). It puts Miles Morales at a dangerous crossroads and brings its lead hero face-to-face with a reality-altering choice. Hailee Steinfeld reprises her role as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman/Spider-Gwen, while Jake Johnson returns as Peter B. Parker/Spider-Man. Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Vélez also make a comeback as Jefferson Davis (Miles Morales’ father) and Rio Morales (Miles’ mother) respectively. Joining the cast are Oscar Isaac, known for his role in Moon Knight, portraying Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099, Issa Rae as the pregnant Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman, Daniel Kaluuya as Spider-Punk/Hobart Brown AKA Hobie Brown, and Jason Schwartzman as the Spot, a villain possessing interdimensional portal abilities. Donald Glover cameos as the MCU’s live-action version of the Prowler/Aaron Davis.

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