If a Marvel character shows up in Sony's Marvel movie, can they still appear in the MCU? Despite producer Amy Pascal's insistence that the upcoming Venom is not set in the same universe as the proper MCU, rumors continue to persist that Tom Holland might make an appearance in Ruben Fleischer's anti-hero thriller. For all intents and purposes, as of this writing, there is no official connection between Venom and the MCU just yet, and there may never be, regardless of the best wishes of a hyped-up fandom.
As excited as audiences may be for a big-budget, R-rated, no-holds-barred Venom film, it may come at a great cost to the MCU. If Venom (along with the in-development Silver & Black and Morbius) is not set in the MCU, then what does that mean for the prospect of its characters ever appearing in a "real" Marvel movie? For that matter, the story of the upcoming animated Spider-Man film apparently precludes the possibility of a full-on live-action Spider-Verse movie starring Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield. Not that such a film was ever actually in development, but now it would just seem redundant.
By all accounts, the existence of films like Venom, Into the Spider-Verse, and Silver & Black was the price Marvel Studios had to pay in order to reboot Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Considering the excellent critical and financial reception of Spider-Man Homecoming, as well as the character's scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, it seems it was a price worth paying. But what if Kevin Feige and the team at Marvel Studios want to introduce Venom to a Spider-Man sequel?
- This Page: Can Audiences Differentiate Sony From the MCU?
- Page 2: Marvel Character Have Already Appeared in Multiple Universes
- Page 3: How Sony Could Share Continuity With the MCU
Can Audiences Differentiate Sony From the MCU?
If Venom is a box office success, Sony has plans to launch a franchise around the character. It's also likely that they're waiting to see how the film performs before moving forward with their Morbius and Silver & Black films, which are based on significantly lesser-known characters than the iconic and provocative black Symbiote.
The biggest fear regarding Sony's Marvel Universe is, since it's not part of the MCU, there could be multiple versions of characters appearing in films across multiple universes. If the MCU introduces Symbiotes, they'll likely wish to have total control over the casting of figures like Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady. The same holds true for Silver & Black and Morbius, provided those films are ever made... Or they could make Sony characters off-limits in the MCU to avoid any potential confusion.
At this stage in the game, there is evidence to suggest that Sony and Marvel don't want to include multiple versions of key Marvel figures across the MCU and Sony's universe. In the early stages of development on Black Panther, Ryan Coogler was aiming to include Kraven the Hunter as a villain in the film. Kraven, a "great white hunter" archetype, is a perfect fit for the world of Wakanda, but Coogler admitted that certain legal issues prevented him from utilizing the villain. Of course, Kraven is mostly known for being a Spider-Man villain, and there are rumors of a Kraven the Hunter movie secretly in development at Sony. It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to connect the dots and suggest that Kraven was prohibited from appearing in Black Panther because Sony had their own plans for the character.
Page 2 of 3: Marvel Character Have Already Appeared in Multiple Universes
It Wouldn't Be the First Time Marvel Characters Appeared in Multiple Universes
This doesn't happen often, but every once in a while, Marvel characters appear in multiple universes simultaneously. Of course, the obvious examples are the disparate TV, comic, film, and video game universes. Spider-Man himself will be appearing in the much-anticipated Spider-Man video game for PlayStation 4, as well as the Into the Spider-Verse movie, in addition to his role in Avengers: Infinity War. That's three different versions of Peter Parker, but it's easier for audiences to digest when one is live-action, one is animated, and the other is a video game.
The most notable comparison in recent memory is Pietro Maximoff, AKA Quicksilver. In the Marvel Comics canon, Quicksilver is both a mutant and part of the X-Men roster, and a member of The Avengers. Due to a loophole in the legal jargon surrounding the character, both Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox were able to use different versions of Quicksilver in their movies, played by different actors.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron (and a brief cameo at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Quicksilver appeared as a minion of Ultron who later joins The Avengers. This version of the character is not a Mutant, but he gets his powers due to Hydra's experiments with the Soul Stone embedded within Loki's staff. There is also no mention made of his father from the comics, Magneto.
In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Quicksilver is a mutant, and it's hinted that Magneto is his father (which is confirmed in X-Men: Apocalypse). It's also worth noting that the Age of Ultron version of the character was killed off in his debut appearance, while the X-Men incarnation survives and is slated to appear in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and even had a surprise cameo in Deadpool 2. While Quicksilver was merely part of an ensemble in both the MCU and X-Men films, Venom is the lead character of his own self-titled film, so having two versions of the character running around could be a bit trickier than the Quicksilver situation. Still, it's not unprecedented, and arguably a superior solution to trying to force Tom Hardy and Tom Holland together in a gratuitous and tonally-dissonant fanservice crossover.
Even Spider-Man himself appeared in 3 different live-action incarnations in the last 10 years. While none of them were running simultaneously, there doesn't seem to be any confusion between those universes with most audience members.
Page 3 of 3: How Sony Could Share Continuity With the MCU
How Sony Could Share Continuity With the MCU
While it's extremely unlikely, given Amy Pascal's comments, it's still technically possible that Tom Holland could pop up in Venom. The last time he appeared in an MCU movie, he wasn't feeling so good, but that's neither here nor there. If he does show up, then it's official: Venom is in the MCU, and Kevin Feige no longer solely holds the keys to the kingdom.
To be fair, though, Kevin Feige is not the only person responsible for the MCU, since the sprawling cinematic universe also includes a slew of TV series, from ABC's Agents of SHIELD to Netflix's The Defenders, and even Freeform's Cloak & Dagger. All of these properties are part of the MCU, and occasionally make reference to events from the movies, but have never made any sort of impact on the universe themselves. If there is any sort of crossover with Venom (and the rest of Sony's spin-off universe), expect it to be in a similar spot as Marvel's Netflix shows; adjunct to the MCU, though completely extraneous to it. Of course, that's the way Amy Pascal originally described the Sony Marvel Universe's relationship to the MCU, a description she quickly clarified after Kevin Feige insisted that Sony's films were, indeed, not part of the proper Avengers canon.
If Marvel's movies are the main wing of the MCU story, then Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter are a sub-wing, including some former movie characters (with other movie characters appearing once in a blue moon), and Marvel's Netflix suite is a whole other division, making slight references, but otherwise disconnected. In the unlikely event that Venom winds up being part of the MCU, then it is a distant corner of a universe which will likely never impact the larger story. After all, how long have audiences waited for The Defenders to cross over with The Avengers, or for Thor and Coulson to be reunited? Keep in mind, that as cool as it might seem to see The Punisher fight side-by-side with the friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man, it would be tonally dissonant, to say the least. Spider-Man is a jolly web-slinger who fights bad guys and makes witty quips while jumping around the battlefield; The Punisher is an unrepentant killer who mercilessly guns down gang members with a ruthless and violent efficiency.
Some stories are custom-made with crossover potential. Venom, as seen in his latest dark-and-gritty reboot incarnation, is not one of them, and to try to shoehorn Ruben Fleischer's stylistically unique take on the monster of dubious nobility into the established tone of the MCU would be a major disservice to everyone involved. If and when the time comes to introduce Venom into the MCU, Marvel Studios should have complete control the creation and implementation of their characters, even if that doesn't prevent Sony from moving forward with their own Venom sequels. There's more than enough Venom to go around.
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