In the MCU, Tom Holland's Spider-Man has been to Germany, Washington, D.C., Venice, London, and even space. Where he hasn't been is on a cruise ship. However, that wasn't always the plan. In addition to starring in WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure at the Disneyland Resort, Disney had plans to feature the web-head aboard Disney Cruise Line's Avengers: Quantum Encounter.
Avengers: Quantum Encounter is an MCU-themed mini-movie/interactive experience presented in the Worlds of Marvel restaurant on the Disney Wish. As guests dine on fare inspired by Wakanda, Ta Lo, Sokovia, and Madripoor, Paul Rudd's Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly's Wasp host a technology presentation on behalf of the Avengers.
When things go wrong, Captain Marvel, Sam Wilson's Captain America, and Ms. Marvel assemble to save the ship; but during the show's planning stages, Disney Imagineering had a different superhero roster in mind.
Why Disney Replaced Spider-Man in Avengers: Quantum Encounter
In talking with Imagineer Danny Handke, the Creative Director for Worlds of Marvel, The Direct learned that Disney "had a bunch of different characters picked" to star in Quantum Encounter's finale, and in one version, "it was Spider-Man for the longest time:"
"We had a bunch of different characters picked that just changed over time. I saw early on a version of Sam Wilson as Captain America in his suit and it just looked amazing. And, I thought he has a connection to Ant-Man with Tic-Tac in the film, and you get Captain America the new leader, right? So that would just be amazing, so we brought Sam Wilson in. Ms. Marvel was a very late add. There was one version where it was Spider-Man for the longest time as the young character who's super excited to be here and has never been on a cruise ship before."
Avengers: Quantum Encounter still has its young, exciteable character who's thrilled to be on deck; but instead of Peter Parker, it ended up being Kamala Khan from Ms. Marvel on Disney+.
According to Handke, Ms. Marvel being "a huge Avengers fan and a Captain Marvel fan" just made sense, especially since Brie Larson's Captain Marvel had always been part of the plan for the restaurant:
"And when I saw the first footage of Ms. Marvel and Iman, and she's a huge Avengers fan and Captain Marvel fan, it made perfect sense and to have her kind of tag along with Captain America and see that dynamic of him being serious and being a leader and her having fun just to be there. So it just kind of worked itself out having that casting."
While the team-up is largely comprised of new characters or those assuming new mantles, The Direct learned that Iron Man's FRIDAY, voiced by Kerry Condon, is part of the experience and "is, of course, the glue to speaking directly to the audience."
Still, FRIDAY wasn't the only influence Iron Man had on this show or the restaurant itself.
Handke explained that Imagineers referred to the modern, cutting-edge design of Worlds of Marvel as "'Stark-itecture'. It's the Stark look. It's the metal, it's the glass, it's the hex pattern..." and it's designed to evoke "Tony's Malibu home or Avengers Compound or Avengers Tower:"
"When we first started settling on this space as a tech showcase, Iron Man was in it for a very long time. We call it Stark-itecture. It's the Stark look. It's the metal, it's the glass, it's the hex pattern you see everywhere in Marvel productions. It kind of brings a specific look that when you walk in here, it evokes Tony's Malibu home or Avengers Compound or Avengers Tower. We took a lot of design language from that."
As to who else Disney Imagineering considered for Quantum Encounter during development, Handke noted that an "Iron Man and Spider-Man team-up" was looked at, as was the use of HYDRA, Maria Hill, and at one point, a Helicarrier over the Disney Wish cruise ship.
However, as the MCU progressed into Phase 4, it seems that the plans for Worlds of Marvel's Avengers: Quantum Encounter did as well. And, as Handke explained, "What's awesome is, at the end, when we had our final script and pre-vis, the talent we wanted to use were willing to sign up and play with us:"
"We looked at an Iron Man and Spider-Man team-up. Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man team-up. Is it Hydra? It's it Ultron? We went through many iterations. Maria Hill was in the mix at one point. My concept designer drew this cool picture of a Helicarrier above the cruise ship. That's kind of a cool visual. Then it became Falcon, and Falcon became Captain America. This is even better. It just kind of progressed. What's awesome is, at the end, when we had our final script and pre-vis, the talent we wanted to use were willing to sign up and play with us."
How Worlds of Marvel is the Future of the MCU
At first glance, it's a bit shocking that Disney Imagineering didn't end up using Tom Holland's Spider-Man for Worlds of Marvel, especially in the wake of Spider-Man: No Way Home's record-breaking success.
But since Tom Holland's Spidey already has a huge presence at Disneyland's Avengers Campus, it's to Disney's credit that it chose to highlight Sam Wilson's Cap, Ms. Marvel, and Captain Marvel and to explore interactions and dynamics that fans have yet to see on screen.
Also, as Danny Handke pointed out, Captain America is one of the Avengers' new leaders. And, with Ms. Marvel currently streaming on Disney+ and The Marvels set to release in 2023, this particular roster isn't just up to date but also a preview of what's in store for MCU fans.
With so many films and MCU Disney+ series coming down the pipeline, it's safe to say that there's never been a better time to be a Marvel fan. And now, thanks to Disney, those stories aren't only limited to the screen but can actually be experienced in the parks and aboard the Disney Cruise Line.