Marvel's MCU is about to get multiversal. And, if rumors are true, Marvel Studios' Spider-Man 3 will have a large hand in introducing alternate worlds to the biggest movie franchise of all time.
Not only was the internet wrecked at the turn of October with the news that Jamie Foxx would be reprising the role of Electro after his performance in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the real bomb came a week later when news broke that Benedict Cumberbatch will be included in the cast with Doctor Stephen Strange serving in a sort of mentor role to Peter Parker. These cast additions opened the flood gates to another look into what is turning into a cornerstone of Phase 4 and beyond: the MCU multiverse.
With both Electro and Doctor Strange both practically confirmed to play some kind of role in the untitled Spider-Man 3, and Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus now rumored for an appearance as well, there is undoubtedly some chance that other past iterations of on-screen Marvel heroes and villains could join into the fray. Whether it be other heroes fighting along Spidey and the Sorcerer Supreme, other villains filling in the ranks for a multiverse Sinister Six, or simply inter-dimensional bystanders, this movie could take a few different routes and still have the end result be absolutely mind-blowing.
While not all of them would fit into one franchise, here are 16 characters from previous on-screen Marvel franchises who we would like find their way into the MCU, specifically in next year’s Spider-Man 3.
Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin
When the MCU started expanding into TV shows with ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Netflix series' leading up to The Defenders, fans were seriously excited by the idea of an inter-connected universe that brought the movies and TV shows of the MCU together into one cohesive unit within the franchise. Sadly, this was not the case in the end with these shows not being recognized as canon although Kevin Feige is making major strides to rectify that mishap with the new string of Disney+ shows debuting in January.
Any of the starring heroes of the Netflix series would be an excellent fit next to Spider-Man, all of them with some noted ties to the web-slinger in the comics, although the man that nearly the entire fan base wants to see revived is Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. His run as Kingpin is praised as one of the most accurate and menacing villain portrayals in the history of the genre, and especially considering how many times Fisk and Spidey have squared off in the comics and other media, this is a matchup fans have wanted to see on the big screen for a long time. Plus, he could even be the benefactor behind a full-length Sinister Six movie if the studio decides to take that route.
On top of all these facts, Vincent D'Onofrio himself has even recently hinted that he would love to come on as an addition to the next installment of Spider-Man, replying to a poll with a classic line of his from a Daredevil comic: "When I was a boy...." Only time will tell if his wishes, along with the fans', come true!
Wesley Snipes' Blade
For everything that modern day superhero movies have become, none of it may have been possible without the efforts of 1998’s Blade. While the title hero isn’t necessarily one of Marvel’s MOST notable characters, the film made revolutionary strides before the turn of the millennium, both with new uses of special effects and Wesley Snipes’ performance as the half-vampire-half-human vampire hunter.
This would be a great tribute to the man who helped start the modern era of comic book movies, although there’s a chance it could be one of the less likely options in this list. Even though Blade will be rebooted in the MCU with Mahershala Ali in the title role, this is naturally a much darker kind of Marvel hero, and it may not be quite the right fit for the typically bright and cheerful Spider-Man, even considering his dire circumstances expected for the sequel.
Nicholas Cage's Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider is another darker character by nature as an anti-hero that sells his soul to the devil in order to save his father’s life. The character was first brought to life by Nicholas Cage, playing Johnny Blaze in both 2007’s Ghost Rider and its 2011 sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
This is another interesting scenario since the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider played an important role in season 4 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the common theory is that the series isn’t exactly canon with the MCU. That opens the door for the character to be explored more fully within the MCU movies and new Disney+ series' down the road.
Nic Cage is also one of the biggest fans of comics in all of Hollywood, most recently lending his voice talents to the role of Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Giving him an opportunity to join the MCU as Ghost Rider would help introduce the supernatural on a whole new level.
Former X-Men stars Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Patrick Stewart (Professor X)
The X-Men are still at least a few years away from making their official rebooted debut in the MCU, but this next entry could be a perfect way to tease their arrival. What better way to usher in the new era of mutants than with the two men who nearly hold the record for most Marvel appearances as two of the most notable mutants: Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier.
Especially in the case of Professor X, his powers and skill set would be one of the perfect tools to have handy in an adventure dealing with both the multiverse and, potentially, more than a handful of villains. It’s still unclear how exactly Jackman’s James Logan would fit into a story like this, but the thought of Spider-Man and Wolverine together even for a minute or two is too good to pass up.
This is more unlikely to happen due to both actors seemingly having ended their time playing mutants, but that won’t stop us from imagining it and hoping for it to happen!
Half of the Fantastic 4 (Ioan Gruffudd's Reed Richards and Michael Chiklis' The Thing)
Possibly more so than the X-Men, MCU fans are desperately excited for the arrival of the Fantastic Four into the MCU when they are rebooted. Marvel’s First Family has had three feature films thus far in two different franchises, arriving to...let’s say, varying levels of praise, but they did have their highlights. One of those highlights is a couple of great performances from the first series by Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards) and Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm), who would both be fun choices to bring into this fray.
The two characters have been best friends in all prior film adaptations of this franchise, and there is also the fact that the Baxter building is based out of New York in the comics and movies. The multiverse would also seemingly be the perfect place for the two to be exploring, considering how often the Fantastic Four travel through both space and time in their stories. This would make an incredible fit in an movie with so much craziness already planned.
Ben Affleck's Daredevil
Included in the early 2000's run of new superhero movies was the first live-action iteration of Matt Murdock in 2003's Daredevil. Amongst the classic campy performances by future MCU director Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson, Jennifer Garner as Elektra, and the late Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk was the brooding-but-cheesy Ben Affleck portrayal of Matt Murdock, whose character has had plenty of classic interactions with Spider-Man in the comics.
While it looks like the Netflix series of the last five years will never officially make their way into the greater MCU, Affleck's version of the Man Without Fear could serve as a hero helping out the young Spidey from the shadows, maybe only at night, similar to another Ben Affleck-portrayed superhero of more recent times.
In that light, Affleck is already reportedly signed on to reprise the role of Batman in 2022's The Flash, which is set to bring in a whole new multiverse of its own, including the Michael Keaton version of Batman from 1989. Marvel should be taking note of this and giving Affleck a double dose of multiverse by letting his version of Daredevil return to New York City as well!
Venom (Topher Grace and Tom Hardy)
When it comes to rogues galleries, almost nobody in comics history has both the quantity or quality of villains as our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. While the quality hasn't been there every single time in his feature films, the quantity has certainly been there by including almost 30 different iterations of classic Spidey bad guys. There are even two versions of one of the most famous of the bunch: Venom, played by Topher Grace in 2007's Spider-Man 3 and Tom Hardy in 2018's Venom.
Even though both of these versions of Venom have their fair share of criticism, they could both make for a great mirror image of Tom Holland's high-school hero. Throw in the fact that Peter is going through his own identity crisis of the sorts now that his secret has been revealed to the world by JK Simmons' new version of J. Jonah Jameson, and Venom could have the chance to cause some serious mayhem by screwing with Peter's life.
There is also a recent rumor to take into consideration that indicates there is general interest from both Marvel and Sony for Tom Hardy's version of the character to make an appearance in Spider-Man 3. Whether this turns into anything official soon is still a mystery, but it's absolutely a good sign that this casting is in consideration to bring some venomous madness into Spider-Man 3 through the multiverse.
Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin
The original Spider-Man from way back in 2002 was something of a revolutionary superhero film, led by upcoming MCU director Sam Raimi. Its use of special effects, storytelling, and spot-on casting helped to kick-start the modern era of superhero movies, and it still holds up 18 years after its initial release in theaters. One aspect that especially holds up is Willem Dafoe's terrifying and menacing portrayal of both Oscorp CEO Norman Osborn and his villainous alter-ego, the Green Goblin.
Even though he was killed off after only one movie (teasing a certain trope the MCU would later use), nothing seems impossible in terms of bringing characters back such as him. The MCU's iteration of Spider-Man already has plenty of experience fighting airborne bad guys, and Dafoe's Goblin could be potentially the scariest one that Tom Holland's web-slinger has ever faced should he find his way into the MCU multiverse.
On top of everything involving Dafoe's character, Dafoe himself seems to still be very open to taking on comic book movie roles, with his most recent appearance coming only two years ago in the DC Extended Universe's Aquaman. This would be incredible on so many levels: giving Dafoe a chance to join the biggest comic book movie franchise ever, returning to one of his most memorable roles, restarting the Goblin arc from the end of his original franchise, and being a potential perfect connection with the villains already established in the upcoming Spider-Man 3.
Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus
Even more so than its predecessor, Spider-Man 2 is regarded as an absolute masterpiece in the world of comic book movies and as one of the greatest of all time. On top of another round of perfect casting, CGI, and story, there was the nuanced and deep portrayal of Doctor Otto Octavius taken on beautifully by Alfred Molina. If there were ever a time and place to bring this kind of performance back for another go-round, it would be now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Molina's performance as Doc Ock is still viewed as one of the best comic book movie villains ever put to the big screen, and it's one of the most popular roles of his entire career. The way he connected emotionally with Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker while trying so hard to kill him at the same time was balanced well, and he could be potentially even more menacing than in his first appearance from 2004.
Doc Ock has also made an impressive comeback in other media forms too, largely thanks to the storyline including his leadership of the Sinister Six in the wildly popular Spider-Man PS4 video game, which would lead perfectly into his resurgence in the MCU movies. As one of the most nuanced villains ever put to the screen, Molina's return as Otto Octavius would make for some incredible battles and action, and it would undoubtedly bring cheers from fans everywhere.
Recent news has to be taken into account here too, including a new rumor that Alfred Molina was seen on set for Spider-Man 3 practicing choreography for a return as Doc Ock. Should this prove to be true, it would only add to what is already set to be one of the most exciting solo Spider-Man movies ever made.
Thomas Haden Church's Sandman
Thomas Hayden Church’s Sandman from 2007's Spider-Man 3, to be frank, was done unbelievably dirty. Set to be the central villain of the concluding film in Sam Raimi’s trilogy, he had to share an excessive amount of screen time alongside James Franco’s Harry Osborn/Hobgoblin and, even worse, Topher Grace’s Venom.
Flint Marco almost certainly had the most compelling story of all three villains in this film, and even though his arc was redeemed by the end of the movie, he made for a more interesting villain than most people give him credit for. Bringing him back through the multiverse for another showdown with this newer and younger Spider-Man could make for some epic fight sequences, especially considering how much GCI technology has evolved over the last 13 years, and he could add a new layer of terror to the story as well.
Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Men
With the potential addition of so many other characters from past Marvel films in the mix, I’d be absolutely remiss if I didn’t include the two men who carried the Spidey-torch before Holland web-slung his way into the MCU: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
Both actors have had their ups and downs while suiting up as the wall-crawler, but they are both as important to the history of Marvel movies as anybody to take on a superhero role. Maguire helped bring Peter Parker to life in 2002 in a way fans had never seen before with his films and effects, while Garfield took the mantle for a semi-new generation and helped modernize him for the times in 2012 by making his own gadgets and dealing with his personal demons.
After the overwhelming success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and with the potential now there due to the additions of Electro and Doctor Strange, now is as good of a time as any to have both previous Spider-Men swing their way into the multiverse to fight alongside Tom Holland. Especially considering how many potential villains and issues could show up for Tom Holland’s young hero with his identity revealed to the public, it could be the perfect opportunity for a triple dose of Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3.
Recent rumors have also led to the possibility of this occurrence a little more real, as multiple sources have reported that both Maguire and Garfield are in early talks to reprise their versions of Spider-Man alongside Tom Holland's MCU web-slinger. Fans can only hope and dream that this casting announcement comes in its full glory so we can get all three cinematic Spider-Men in one epic MCU movie together!
Ryan Reynolds' MCU Debut as Deadpool
Even including all of the options listed above, I’m not sure any would fit as perfectly as the final entry on this list. His adventures with Spider-Man are classics, he’s almost guaranteed to be a part of the MCU no matter what happens, and he transcends even the all-important multiverse: Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool.
This would be the absolute perfect opportunity to introduce Wade Wilson into the MCU for the very first time considering his meta nature and his ability to fit into literally any scenario from the comics or the movies. He could simply show up, drops some quips and MCU references, inappropriately put his Spidey-crush on full display, and, hell, he could even be the one who utters the memorable MCU Far From Home ending of “what the f—-?!?!” at the end of the film before the credits roll! (This could also be followed by an exceptionally long string of bleeps, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)
There couldn’t be a better opportunity for this to happen, especially considering the off-screen fact that Kevin Feige is looking to sign Reynolds to the most massive deal in MCU history. The studio wants him, the fans want him even more, and it feels like the time has come to finally bring Deadpool into the franchise for the first time in Tom Holland's upcoming Spider-Man 3.