!! MAJOR SPOILERS FOR SPIDER-MAN NO WAY HOME AHEAD!!
Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is known for drastically reinterpreting it’s cast, but Spider-Man is easily the biggest sandbox Disney has gotten to play around in. After nearly going bankrupt, Marvel sold the Spider-Man film rights to Sony Pictures in hopes of staying afloat. Up until he joined the MCU, Spider-Man’s been a solo act under Sony. Many feel that Marvel’s take on Spider-Man has been missing key elements of his character since the beginning. Fortunately, Spider-Man No Way Home finally reveals the master plan Disney and Sony have been working toward since Peter’s first thwips into Captain America: Civil War.
After Dr. Strange successfully casts an even stronger spell to rid the world of Peter Parker, No Way Home ends bitter-sweetly on Peter swinging through the New York’s iconic Rockefeller Center in a brand new, homemade, suit. Finally, Peter faces loss and consequences for his actions. During Peter’s introduction, he was mocked by Tony Stark as the Spider-Boy. Peter has spent his entire tenure in the MCU aspiring to be Spider-Man, but No Way Home proves that this trilogy was truly his origin. No Way Home plays up how unusual it was for the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, reprised by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, to be working as part of a team; but finally sets up an ending where the MCU’s Peter Parker has to become Spider-Man independent of his Avenger cohorts.
In November of 2021, Spider-Man Freshman Year was announced for Disney+. This animated series promises to fill in the gaps of Peter’s MCU origins that have only been alluded to. There is concern Freshman Year will overstep the status-quo that No Way Home establishes. With the potential introduction of Uncle Ben and super-villains before the Vulture, Freshman Year could soften the impact of Jon Watts’ entire “Home” Trilogy.
The past isn’t the only place Disney is looking toward for Spider-Man! In Venom: Let There be Carnage’s post-credits stinger, Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock was swept up in Dr. Strange’s multiversal mishap, but not everyone was satisfied with how Disney and Sony crossed the wires. No Way Home’s post-credits sequence follows up with Eddie as he sits in a bar catching up on the story of Iron-Man, Thanos, and cracking a few jokes at The Hulk’s expense, but he’s quickly sent back to his world.
Fans feel this is a shame, as Tom Hardy’s Eddie can easily leave as big of a mark on the MCU as Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, but Eddie leaves something even better behind. The final shot in No Way Home is the twitching of a piece of Venom’s symbiote left behind; it’s the smartest decision Disney could’ve made. Sony’s Venom is firmly established as the “Lethal Protector” and a super-hero in his own right. There’s no way Eddie and Peter could clash without breaking either character.
Many forget that Tom Hardy portrays both Eddie Brock and Venom. In an interview with Collider, Kevin Feige—head of Marvel Studios—states that “the minute” Tom became so “iconic” the question was how do they work toward a cross-over. Leaving the symbiote behind in the MCU allows Sony to continue their franchise while giving Disney access to it’s biggest star and none of the strings. Breaking this piece of Venom off allows Disney the opportunity to adapt the classic Symbiote Saga, or just find a new host for Venom, while keeping everything iconic about the look and feel of Tom Hardy’s portrayal.
Disney certainly isn’t stupid, and Sony is well aware of how much they can profit off of giving them more freedom to play with Spider-Man adjacent characters in the MCU. There’s good reason for everyone to be excited about Tom Holland’s future as Spider-Man in the MCU. His fans will get to see him grow and his skeptics will see him mature. Especially if future films pick up characters and plots such as Flash Thompson’s time in college, Matt Murdock’s presence defending Spider-Man, and the symbiote making its way to New York. The seeds have been sown Disney just has to harvest.