Kevin Fiege and Marvel Studios have a very weird deal with Sony and the Spider-Man character appearing in films. Sony clearly has no say in the larger MCU (aside from lending Spider-Man to visit), but they may have overstepped by including an MCU villain (Adrian Toomes) in the Morbius movie as potentially seen in the latest trailer.
In addition to the inclusion of Michael Keaton, who is not confirmed to be returning as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming (but if not, why shove him in the trailer at all?), we do know that Morbius, at the very least, is not in an isolated universe of his own as there were other clues to Spider-Man occupying his world such as this very clear poster of Spider-Man on the wall behind Michael Morbius.
It doesn’t take a uniquely keen eye to notice that this doesn’t exactly resemble the MCU Spider-Man, but rather the Sam Raimi one played by Tobey Maguire and even though Keaton’s character has not been revealed (Keaton could just be playing someone entirely different, but again- why show him at all, if that’s the case?), we do know that Spider-Man is in this universe, at least, and that has many fans wondering if this is more than just an easter egg…
We know that Sam Raimi and Sony were planning a Spider-Man 4 at some point with John Malkovich in talks to play The Vulture. Clearly that did not happen and the franchise was rebooted later with Andrew Garfield. Those, too, came and went very quickly before the MCU caught up to a point where Spider-Man worked out in being involved in the larger picture, and the rest is history.
Sony got their wish eventually in the Marvel Studios/Kevin Fiege produced Spider-Man: Homecoming where Michael Keaton knocked it out of the park in his portrayal of Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture. And now that we know that Keaton is appearing in Morbius in what we can only assume is a reprisal of Adrian Toomes, fans are chatting all across social media on whether or not Morbius is part of the MCU or if this is a different Adrian Toomes. You have to admit, the easter egg showing off a very different version of Spider-Man does support the theory that it could take place in a universe of Raimi’s original vision.
Currently, as it stands, the multiverse is sort of a mess. The MCU is all Marvel Studios but Sony allows Spider-Man out to play a bit, and then Sony has their own thing going with their one-off villain/antihero spin-off movies. For example; we don’t know if Tom Hardy’s Venom is in the extended MCU by occupying the same universe with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, or if Venom is in his own universe. Then Sony could mess it all up by saying that in Venom’s universe, there are no Avengers, but there is a Spider-Man, and then have Tom Holland play that Peter Parker, and this is the same universe that Morbius occupies, but then it just gets too deep. But remember, Sony absolutely loves shared universes and really wants to dive deep into the multiverse with Spider-Man and the Spider-Verse.
Clearly, the above is a lot to unpack for what any of this could mean regarding the MCU, Spider-Man, and heck, even the multiverse or Sony’s own isolated universes. Then again, it could all mean nothing and it could just be Sony Studios messing around (classic Sony). But let’s list out some current theories from fans on what this could mean:
- Sony is going to shove Morbius into the extended MCU (whether Marvel Studios likes it or not), meaning that Morbius could appear in any Tom Holland/Spider-Man movies where the Avengers or any other MCU character does not appear and they don’t acknowledge each other. This allows the MCU to ignore Morbius entirely and maintain that two degrees of separation, as it were.
- Morbius could be in his own universe that has a Spider-Man. This could be a Spider-Man still played by Tom Holland (one that possibly doesn’t know the Avengers).
- Morbius could be in Sam Raimi’s universe, and Tobey Maguire reprises the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (highly unlikely but would be super cool if that were to happen). But, this could just be nothing more than an easter egg of sorts that Marvel Studios allowed Sony to use Spider-Man for the movie, but just not the shared one. But if so, then that would suggest that if Keaton were reprising his role as Adrian Toomes, then he could just be The Vulture of the Raimi universe.
- And then, of course, the most likely scenario – it’s just an easter egg, it means nothing, and Michael Keaton’s role is just for fun but Marvel Studios doesn’t acknowledge this as canon. Or they do and just don’t care that much.
The above can get very confusing, but it sounds to us like Sony is just doing whatever the hell they want and Marvel Studios just has to deal with it. But I still have so many questions.
- Is Venom in a universe without Spider-Man?
- Do Venom and Morbius occupy the same universe?
- Is Michael Keaton reprising his role as Adrian Toomes of another universe?
- Will Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, or Tobey Maguire ever appear in an animated Spider-Verse movie as their respective Spider-Men?
- Will Sony ever stop trying to make spin-off movies about villains/antiheroes before they are even introduced/mentioned within the boundaries of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe?
- Will Disney ever just flat out buy Sony Studios so we can stop dealing with all this bullsh*t?
Personally, I wouldn’t mind revisiting the Raimi universe if it meant a quick cameo from Maguire, but it could get really messy having two Spider-Men swinging across theaters at the same time. Sure, Spider-Verse did this, but one was animated which makes it easier to separate and distinguish the difference. However, the simple answer to everything is that this is within the extended MCU, much to Fiege’s dismay, and the poster behind Morbius in the trailer was just for fun. But maybe, just maybe, there is something more going on here. We will just have to be patient and wait to find out.