Will the SPIDER-MAN Spinoffs Connect to the MCU?
There's a lot of uncertainty about Sony's planned Venom and Silver and Black Spider-Man spinoffs. We still don't know exactly what they'll be about, what characters will appear (including the minor detail of Spider-Man himself!), or whether they're meant to tie into other Marvel movies. With the recent, seemingly unplanned revelation that at least Amy Pascal thinks they'll take place in continuity with Tom Holland's take on the web-slinger, it might be a good moment to take an inventory of the several possible ways this could all play out.
1. Spinoffs are fully part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
"Fully" here would be a two-way street: MCU characters (Tom Holland's Spidey, Hulk, etc.) appearing in the spinoffs, or spinoff characters like Venom appearing in other MCU movies down the road. This seems extremely unlikely, considering Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has explicitly said this won't be the case. But what are some admittedly unlikely scenarios under which this would even be possible?
a. They've been planning on tying the spinoffs to the MCU, but were waiting to see the reception to Spider-Man: Homecoming first.
b. They've been planning on tying the spinoffs to the MCU, but were waiting to reveal this until audiences see a relevant plot point in an upcoming MCU movie (e.g. Spider-Man picks up the symbiote in Avengers: Infinity War).
c. They were waiting to announce this at a major media event (e.g. Comic-Con, D23).
d. They aren't currently planning on doing this, but if the movies are in production and then Disney ends up buying Sony Pictures or the Spider-Man film rights, it'd be odd to exclude one of their own movies from the rest of their continuity.
2. Spinoffs are compatible with the MCU
A one-way street of connectivity: The Sony films assume the MCU continuity, but the MCU films don't acknowledge them. It's not that hard to imagine a Spider-Man spinoff that does nothing to explicitly tie itself in to the MCU, but does nothing to disabuse the notion of a connection either. Even within the MCU there are films that only barely have direct ties to the rest of the MCU (for example, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), and the Netflix side has been playing this game all along. Here too there are a few specific ways for this to play out:
a. The spinoffs feature Tom Holland (and other supporting cast members from Homecoming), making it pretty damn clear that it's the same Spider-Man.
b. The spinoffs feature a non-identifiable Spider-Man in a cameo. We never see Tom Holland, and Spidey plays only a minor role. This would likely be unsatisfying, but if you squint you can almost imagine a way this can work.
Some version of this can still be satisfying for the audience: if the spinoffs are well received, then we can happily view them as part and parcel of the MCU. If they merely reach the level of quality of certain other recent Sony Spider-Man movies, they can be easily ignored.
3. Spinoffs are not compatible with the MCU
If the spinoffs directly contradict the MCU — say, by mentioning that there are no other superheroes out there, or by featuring a different Spidey — then they'll be clearly marked as their own thing. The reverse is possible too, if another MCU film does something to invalidate the spinoffs (like, for example ... blowing up Queens).
There's also the scenario where the spinoffs don't tie in to the MCU because they don't even relate to Spider-Man. No Spidey appearances at all — they just revolve around colorful characters (who happen to be in Spider-Man's orbit in the comics) off doing their own things. This is what the earliest reporting suggested, and it's one of the silliest outcomes. (Who cares about Silver Sable? How can you possibly tell a story about an evil Spider-Man who wears a variation of Spider-Man's costume without mentioning Spider-Man?) But it's also one of the likeliest, given Feige's initial comments.
4. None of this matters because the spinoffs never get made
Maybe it's because this was always a ruse to inflate Sony Pictures' value before selling it off. Maybe it's because these spinoffs were only ever meant to be a bargaining chip with Disney — a threat of future brand-tainting product if Sony doesn't get its way. Or maybe it's because someone sensible realizes that no one wants to see Spider-Man spinoffs that aren't related to Spider-Man. But it remains a distinct possibility that none of these spinoffs pan out. We'll find out on Oct. 5, 2018.
Spider-Man: Homecoming swings into theaters on July 7, 2017.