This argument of "Why Avengers 5 & 6 Shouldn't Include Tom Holland's Spider-Man" is more of a “What if Captain America 3 was more of a solo movie than a pseudo-Avengers movie?” situation. It is less about Spider-Man being a part of the next Avengers movies and more about letting him have his own story because there is a ton of opportunity there.
After the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, this born-again Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man might be better off sitting this one out.
It is hard to imagine the world’s most popular superhero not adding to what is shaping up to be one of the biggest comic book movies of all time. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has already been a part of Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and of course, Spider-Man: No Way Home. Arguably the four biggest Marvel movies ever made.
So why not Kang Dynasty or Secret Wars?
The State of Spider-Man in the MCU
Before diving into why Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might be better off not being included in Kang Dynasty or Secret Wars, it is important to recap where he was left off after No Way Home.
J. Jonah Jameson shows the audience that the world forgets Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but Spider-Man is still a prevalent figure in the superhero world. So it can be assumed that characters who have interacted with Spider-Man in Infinity War or Endgame remember fighting alongside Spider-Man, but not Peter Parker.
Stripped of his friends, and his status as an Avenger, Holland’s Peter Parker is left alone in a New York apartment. He makes a new low-budget suit, tracks crime through a police scanner, and by all assumptions, is reborn and grown-up Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Possibilities of Spider-Man: Phase 2
One of the many outstanding accomplishments of No Way Home was an organic and earned soft reboot of one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Universe.
In a true act of having your cake and eating it too, Marvel Studios managed to have a young and modern iteration of Peter Parker in The Infinity Saga and be in a position to successfully transition him into a mature and classic Peter Parker in the future.
For the first time, a character is getting a Phase 2 in the MCU.
He was a sidekick of Tony Stark, an Avenger, and he had two movies in The Infinity Saga that often compare to the iconic High School vibes of John Hughes. Now, they have set Peter Parker up as the lonely, resourceful, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man that has been delivered repeatedly in comics and on the big screen.
If the direction of Spider-Man in the MCU is to return to his vintage street-level hero ways, putting him immediately in Avengers: Kang Dynasty and/or Secret Wars seems like a deviation from that path.
The “Forget Me” Dilemma
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a standard of continuity raises the bar of storytelling to levels hitherto undreamt of.
Spider-Man being in Avengers 5&6 is not as simple as his appearances in Civil War or Infinity War. The reality of the MCU is that Peter Parker remembers all of his experiences with The Avengers, while The Avengers only remember Spider-Man.
Yes. It can be assumed that this does not affect anyone but Peter, and the decision is to have him keep it to himself and never take off his mask (yawn). That creates some awkward storytelling situations.
For example, when Tom Holland’s Peter Parker made a maskless appearance at Tony Stark’s funeral, does everyone simply not remember there was a kid there with Marissa Tomei, or do they remember Tomei with Spider-Man in a suit and tie?
One thing the studio could do is have Doctor Strange, Wong, or another magic user undo the spell. Which would greatly reduce the rewatch value of No Way Home. Recently, Disney has had some issues, undoing impactful moments immediately after to get the most popular characters back together (see Grogu in Book of Boba Fett).
What Does Tom Holland Add to Secret Wars?
Avengers: Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars will be a tall task even for the greatest movie franchise of all time. Being able to bring together the heroes of Phase 4 to face a Multiversal threat in less than 7 years is a mountainous feat.
Would Tom Holland’s Spider-Man with the “forget me” elephant hanging in the room add to the value of that story?
In a movie that will end a saga full of complex rules and multi-dimensional moving pieces, audiences need to focus on the story. With Spider-Man on screen with characters, the audience knows he knows but cannot say anything that could be incredibly distracting.
It also sets up a line along the lines of “Hey Steph… I mean Doctor Strange,” which simply draws attention to the awkward situation.
No, this is not the end of the world if this dramatic irony hangs in the balance, but does it add anything to the movie? Especially if there are other viable options to get a web-slinger in these movies.
How Do You Make Secret Wars Without Spider-Man?
Notice throughout this article that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has been referenced.
The biggest argument against this theory is, “how can you have the biggest comic book movie of this saga without Spider-Man?” And it is a fair argument.
However, along with the massive success of rebooting Holland’s Spider-Man in the MCU, Spider-Man: No Way Home also managed to bring in both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as in-universe, alternate versions, fan-favorite Peter Parkers.
Tobey and Andrew are a lock to play a part in a movie that is sure to bring worlds together and reintroduce characters like Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine into the MCU.
While seeing all three Spideys together again would be another great moment, do Tobey and Andrew’s Peters remember Tom Holland’s?
Just another example of a hand-waving exposition that would need to take place.
There is still plenty of opportunity to have not one, but TWO Spider-Men in these Avengers movies without getting in the way of Holland’s potential next chapter.
Not the End of Crossovers
So let’s say Tom Holland’s Peter Parker does not appear in Avengers 5 or 6. This does not mean it is the end of crossovers in the MCU.
Street-level Spider-Man is what fans have been clamoring for in the MCU. Plenty of new street-level heroes are being introduced in Phase 4 that would make for some incredible Peter Parker team-ups.
The Defenders cast (featuring Daredevil) are already in line to meet Peter Parker one day. Other young heroes like Kate Bishop are also in play, as Peter has never met them.
Beyond a crossover, there are PLENTY of classic Spider-Man characters that would fit into and enhance his new comic-accurate story. To name a few, Norman and Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, and Eddie Brock.
If the plan is to bring him back up into the high-tech, Avenger-Esque Spider-Man fans have seen in the MCU already, then The Fantastic Four would be the best choice.
Tom Holland Will Be There
If fans were able to bet on whether or not Tom Holland appears in at least one of the next two Avengers movies, the clear favorite answer would be “Yes.”
He’s the most popular hero that makes the most money and a guaranteed applause every time he comes on screen. Plus, who doesn’t want Holland to wear the black suit in a movie titled Secret Wars? Another comic book dream was brought to life.
But if the plan is to take what was an Avengers-focused Spider-Man and make him a more comic (and animated series) accurate self-sustaining Friendly Neighbor Spider-Man, putting him immediately in the Avengers again might be a mistake.
It all depends on how long Marvel Studios wants this soft reboot to settle in. It was a bold and inspired decision to have Peter choose to leave his past behind even after the spell.
To have him immediately jump back into an Avengers team, where he cannot take his mask off, would improve the Avenger's value but lessen the value of this new Spider-Man.