Spider-Man: No Way Home has everyone firmly caught in its web. The latest Tom Holland-starring Spidey movie has shattered box office records as audiences eat up the introduction of the live-action multiverse.
We still don't know the official implications of the multiverse on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) going forward. However, the mid and post-credits scenes of No Way Home give us some clues. To begin with, here's our spoiler-fuelled breakdown of the No Way Home mid-credits scene.
WARNING: NO WAY HOME SPOILERS AHEAD
What happens during the Spider-Man: No Way Home mid-credits scene?
At the end of No Way Home, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has reversed the spell that caused the multiverse to open, and sent all the various Spider-Man villains back to their respective universes. Tragically, in the process, Strange has had to wipe the memories of all those people still living who know Peter Parker as Spider-Man. This includes Peter's girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Nevertheless, Peter is able to rise above the tragedy and re-imagine himself as the traditional friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, swinging through the New York skyline in joyous and exhilarating fashion.
Midway through the credits, we then cut to Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock sat in a tropical bar. Eddie is conversing with the parasitic symbiote Venom who lives inside his body, and it's clear that the scene follows on from the Venom: Let There Be Carnage credits scene, in which Eddie/Venom was zapped into the world of the MCU. Watching No Way Home helps us to fill in the blanks: it's evident that Doctor Strange's initial magic spell, the one designed to wipe people's memories of Peter being Spider-Man, brought Eddie/Venom into the MCU; we just didn't see them in the main context of No Way Home's narrative.
It's clear that being in the context of the MCU has blown Eddie and Venom's collective minds, as they namecheck the Hulk and various other characters. However, they don't hang around for long as they're restored to their traditional universe courtesy of Strange's reverse-spell. Don't forget that Eddie/Venom hails from the Sony Marvel Universe, a franchise that's adjacent to the Disney-distributed Marvel Cinematic Universe. We've been on tenterhooks to see if these two franchises would ever cross over, and it seems like this is the moment.
A tiny bit of liquid-like symbiote is left behind on the bar top, which means that although Eddie/Venom is back where he is, the symbiote can now potentially establish its presence in a completely different movie universe. Could we be getting individual iterations of the Sony Marvel Venom and a brand new MCU Venom? If the latter is true, it may well pave the way for the Spider-Man/Venom movie for which we've been hankering for a long time.
What does the Spider-Man No Way Home mid-credits scene mean for the MCU?
Immediately, we have questions about this mid-credits scene. Doctor Strange clearly states that his initial spell, the one that goes wrong, only applies to people who already know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Therefore, the fact that Eddie/Venom has been imported into the MCU implies that he knows it as well. But how is that the case?
During the post-credits scene for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Venom informed Eddie that the presence of symbiotes ranges across the cosmos, and also throughout the multiverse. So, there could be any number of iterations of Venom who already know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Putting all that aside, we know that Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal has promised us a new trilogy of MCU Spider-Man movies. Pascal has said that the original Tom Holland story arc, comprising Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home and No Way Home, is now complete, and a new story can start to take shape. In a recent New York Times interview, Pascal and Marvel president Kevin Feige further discussed the possibility of new Spider-Man movies, both solo and crossover.
The symbiotic blob that's been left behind in the MCU may be the starting point for all this. Should Tom Holland return as Spider-Man, his iteration of the character could come into contact with the symbiote and allow the filmmakers to adapt the 'Black Suit Spider-Man' storyline. This was the point where Peter assimilated with the symbiote and gained remarkable new powers but at the expanse of his own humanity.
Now that Peter knows the multiverse exists, maybe he'll return to Doctor Strange and demand to be sent to the universe where the symbiote originated? In other words, MCU Peter Parker soars into Sony Marvel Universe Venom territory. It would have to be that way around as Eddie/Venom has already been restored to his correct universe during the No Way Home mid-credits scene.
How does Morbius fit in with both Spider-Man and Venom?
Morbius is the next instalment in the Sony Marvel Universe and is due for release in January 2022. Jared Leto stars as scientist Michael Morbius, a brilliant physicist but also a man wracked with a rare blood disease. When he ventures to the far side of the world to seek a cure, Morbius finds himself infused with vampiric abilities and super-strength.
The Morbius trailers have made it clear that the movie crosses over with the MCU Spider-Man. Michael Keaton's villain Vulture, who tussled with Peter Parker in Homecoming, shows up, and we also see Morbius walking past graffiti that outs Spider-Man as a murderer. This alludes to the climax of Far From Home in which Peter is framed for the death of Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), the villain who, prior to his demise, maliciously revealed Spider-Man's true identity to the wider world.
This sets in motion the events of No Way Home as Peter grapples with the consequences of his identity being leaked. However, given that balance is restored during No Way Home's climax and people once again forget who Spider-Man is, we have to wonder why people in the world of Morbius still pinpoint Spider-Man as a killer. Maybe the Morbius film runs concurrently with the first third of No Way Home?
"In the film version of Morbius that we're bringing to you now, he's also a part of a much larger universe," Leto has said. "If you've seen the last Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, you know the multiverse has officially opened – and there are all kinds of opportunities for villains to meet up, thrive and maybe even nurture their more sinister intents.”
Leto's use of the word sinister (and forgive us if we're reading too much into this) makes us hope for the long-awaited Sinister Six movie. Various members of this deadly villain's collective have been teased on and off during the various live-action iterations of Spider-Man, including the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield takes. Will the presence of the multiverse allow the Sinister Six movie to progress from pipedream to reality? And could we potentially see a Spider-Man/Venom/Morbius team-up to fight these super-villains?
What is the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The next MCU movie is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. A sequel to Doctor Strange, the movie pairs Benedict Cumberbatch's Sorceror Supreme with the traumatised Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). The movie is directed by Sam Raimi who makes his first comic book movie since 2007's Spider-Man 3. Raimi's background in controversial, scrungey cult horror, namely the Evil Dead movies, has people wondering if we're about to see the first full-blown MCU horror movie.
Rachel McAdams will return as Strange's ex-girlfriend, nurse Christine Palmer. New to the series is Xochitl Gomez who will be portraying America Chavez. The latter adopted the mantle of superhero Miss America following her predecessor Madeline Joyce. Chavez is also the first Latin-American LGBTQ character in Marvel comics lore, so her big-screen portrayal may well break new ground.
Multiverse of Madness is about to wrap its sixth and final week of reshoots. Rumour has it that these reshoots are looking to import more and more characters into the MCU fold, so we await the results with baited breath.