What is going on?
After a decade of superhero movie universes adhering to vast, inter-connected webs of steadfast continuity, the walls are coming down in a big way. Suddenly, all bets are off and there’s no telling what happens next.
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In the wake of the wild trailer for WandaVision and the news that multiple versions of Batman will appear in the upcoming Flashpoint film, it has been revealed by The Hollywood Reporter that Jamie Foxx will return to play Electro in the next MCU Spider-Man movie.
He previously played the role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014 — the final outing for Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.
This follows the return of JK Simmons as news impresario J. Jonah Jameson in the post-credits sting of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home — a role from the noughties Tobey Maguire-led trilogy.
The inclusion of Simmons — who will play the role again — felt like a neat nod to fans and a recognition of the fact that nobody could cast a better Jameson than the Whiplash Oscar winner. But with Foxx now joining the fold too, this seems like a concerted move to link the various Spider-Man worlds together.
Multiverse is a word that has come up a lot in discussion of Marvel’s upcoming Phase Four. Not only does it feature in the title of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but the suggestion of it was a key plot point in Far From Home.
Watch: Analysing the Spider-Man: Far From Home credits scenes
Given that nothing has been announced in terms of plot, or even a title, for the third Spider-Man movie, it’s difficult to work out how big a part Electro is due to play in the film.
He could be the main villain of the piece, but he could equally just be a cameo akin to the appearance of Jameson last time around.
In the likely event that Marvel chooses to reckon with the fact that Foxx’s Electro has appeared before — though it’s theoretically possible they might just ignore it — this will further the multiverse around Spider-Man.
This obviously manifested most clearly in the Oscar-winning 2018 animation Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That innovative adventure confronted the idea of the multiverse head-on, by including multiple different versions of Spider-Man from across the comic book world.
Notably, producer Chris Miller said he and Phil Lord pitched live-action cameos to Sony bosses and they said no, citing the fact that it was “too soon” — not that they didn’t want to do it.
Clearly, the idea of blurring the lines between the Sony world of Spider-Man over the years, the modern Spider-Verse at the studio and the entirely separate MCU take on the character is one that is being actively considered.
This increased cross-pollination is a growing element of the MCU, but it also raises the possibility that the Sony universe could be about to get a Tom Holland-shaped kick.
Sony is aggressively pursuing various Spider-Man adjacent characters in the wake of the ultra-successful Venom and the Jared Leto-starring Morbius. Olivia Wilde is making a Spider-Woman movie and J.C. Chandor is taking on Kraven the Hunter. It seems as if Sinister Six might be just around the corner, and they really need a Spider-Man to face off against.
The involvement of Electro is certainly the latest strand in an increasingly tangled tapestry, in which the rigid barriers once erected between superhero films are proving to be more porous than they have ever been before.
Given the roster of characters Marvel inherited back into its care after the Disney-Fox merger, this sort of cross-pollination could open the door for the likes of the X-Men and Deadpool entering the MCU.
Either way, the popularity of the multiverse across both Marvel and DC means that, once they start making superhero movies again, they’re going to be unlike they’ve ever been before.