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The Clone Saga Should Be Spider-Man's Next MCU Story (Thanks To No Way Home's Cameos)

If there's one thing that the last three web-slinging cinematic outings have confirmed, it's that the more Spider-People on screen, the better. 

"Spider-Man: No Way Home," which saw the return of Peter 2 (Tobey Maguire) and Peter 3 (Andrew Garfield), still stands as the third most successful MCU movie ever, swinging in behind only "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame." On the animated side of things, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" walked away with an Oscar, followed by its sequel "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," which blew everyone away at the box office.

Looking at these huge successes, it seems obvious that people really, really love seeing multiple Spider-people on the big screen at the same time. That said, while cramming Tom Holland's live-action side of the Spider-Verse with more web-slingers seems like a straightforward win, leaning any harder on the multiverse is going to get old, quick. So if we want multiple Spider-people on screen but without multiple interdimensional portals, where do we begin? What notorious Spider-Man story, with more than one wall-crawler running around, would make for a good adaptation? 

Well, for that, it's time to refresh the 1990s and take a long, hard look at "The Clone Saga," one of the most divisive story arcs in Spider-Man's history. Yes, readers hated it. But the concept was dynamite, and with the increasing love people have for characters like Scarlet Spider, retooling this story for the big screen could blow open the Spider-Verse open in a brilliant new way. 

What is Spider-Man's Clone Saga?

To mention the word "clones" to a Spider-Man fan is to spark a level of debate equal to DC acolytes arguing whether or not Zack Snyder was onto something with the DCEU. It technically started in 1973, when the villainous Miles Warren, AKA the Jackal, cloned both Peter Parker and the late Gwen Stacy, the latter of whom he was creepily obsessed with. This story ended simply, with Peter defeating this doppelganger. Jackal and the Spider-clone die from the same bomb. Peter doesn't stress over whether he's the real Peter.

Flash-forward to 1994: Peter's thought-deceased clone returns, now calling himself Ben Reilly — yes, that's the wall-clutching, Andy Samberg-sounding Spidey from "Across the Spider-Verse". While the "Spider-Verse" version didn't get a fair shake, the comics version was a grizzled, tougher, but still responsibility-driven hero who becomes the Scarlet Spider, wearing a torn hoodie that inspires hundreds of cosplays to this day. One clone is never enough, so Reilly was accompanied by other Spider-variations, each with their own unique skillset. 

Looking back, the story stands as a mixed bag of clever ideas and god-awful creative decisions that fans were consistently vocal about. One huge redeeming quality is that it gave us the fan-favorite Ben Reilly, plus the even edgier Spider-clone Kaine. Unfortunately, other harebrained ideas didn't go down well, whether it was forcing readers to accept Reilly as the "real" Peter (they went back and forth on this) or randomly resurrecting Norman Osborn, ruining his iconic death to reveal him as the big bad.

Still, the plethora of Peters could tap into the same winning formula as "No Way Home," regardless of how loathed the source material was. Especially when you consider that "No Way Home" also reworked a universally despised Spider-Man comics story. 

Like Spider-Man: No Way Home redeemed One More Day, the MCU can redeem the Clone Saga

Fans have every reason to be reluctant over "The Clone Saga" ever seeing the light of a theatre screen. Still, previous Spider-related efforts prove even some of the worst stories can be manipulated to make great movies. 

Looking past the fun and games of the big Spidey get-together, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" pulled its core story concepts straight from what is widely considered the single worst story in Spider-Man comics history. You know that part about Peter's secret identity being erased from memory, and he and MJ's relationship being ripped apart by magic? Yeah, well it was great on the big screen, but it was ripped directly from the ridiculed pages of "One More Day," which saw Peter make a deal with the demonic Mephisto to make his identity secret again (and save Aunt May's life) at the cost of his marriage with MJ. 

This story has been loathed by comic readers for decades, but "No Way Home" successfully reworked elements from it (and jettisoned the awful parts) to craft one of the best "Spider-Man" films to date. 

If such a turnaround can happen with "One More Day," then, why not "The Clone Saga?" Keeping the core story in place and doing away with the dumb out-of-character moments, resurrections, or double-bluffs could mean zooming on the extremely compelling core — can you imagine if you got cloned, and that clone just wanted to live their life? — and simultaneously lead to exciting scenes with Tom Holland as multiple Spider-Men. To top it off, Marvel's already been seeding this event in some subtle ways. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming already has traces of clone DNA

While integrating the disparate pieces of "The Clone Saga" into the MCU might seem challenging — especially since Spidey's last adventure wiped Peter Parker off the map — it's worth noting that the hero's first solo MCU outing, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," slyly introduced a key player.  

In that film, seen among the faculty working at Peter's school in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is his physics teacher, Mrs. Monica Warren (Selenis Leyva), who catches Ned (Jacob Batalon) during his initial "guy in the chair" stint. For casual fans, she's just another teacher clueless about having a wall-crawler in her class. However, die-hard fans know that in the comics, Monica Warren was the late wife of Miles — the guy who goes haywire, starts cloning his students, and becomes the villainous Jackal, hence setting off the story. 

One could argue that Monica sets up her husband's arrival. On the other hand, why not have Monica become the MCU Jackal? For one, this would avoid the creep factor of the comics Jackal being a professor with an unrequited obsession for his student. Even better, Monica's Jackal would also mark the first time Holland's Peter would be taking on a female villain, which none of the previous live-action "Spider-Man" films can say they attempted.

The Jackal is the foundation of a revamped "Clone Saga," after all, so getting the character right is essential. There is, arguably, only one character more important — and that's Ben Reilly himself. 

The Scarlet Spider could save the live-action Spider-Verse

In the pantheon of world's greatest web-slingers, Ben Reilly is one of the best. And he deserves to come to live-action.

Initially created by Marvel editorial to take over Peter's role as Spider-Man, Ben instead found love from fans as the Scarlet Spider. While he might have been a punchline in "Across the Spider-Verse," what the film did get right was the moody, shadowy, so-very-90s vibe of this character, and he could be exactly what's needed for the future live-action Spider-Verse. 

In a world of Spider-Man movies lacking the right dose of Spider-Man (we're looking at you, "Venom"), Scarlet Spider may just be antidote. And while "The Clone Saga" would be deeply fun for Tom Holland on every level — who doesn't want to see him as the violent antihero Kaine, or perhaps even the infamous Spidercide? — the real highlight would be him getting to experiment with crafting Ben Reilly into the pained but positive figure that comics fans have adored for decades, even when they didn't adore the story that introduced him. A "Clone Saga" movie wouldn't have to kill off Reilly at the end, as the comics did, and could instead have him sticking around for future team-ups, spin-offs, or even his own solo film.

Tom Holland already wants to take on Spider-Man's Clone Saga

Before even "Spider-Man: Homecoming" arrived in theatres, CinemaBlend probed the web warrior over which story from Spider-Man's history he'd love to swing at. Incredibly, "The Clone Saga" was his top choice. "It would be so cool. I could play seven characters. That means seven checks! And I like the idea of having characters in front of Spider-Man who have the same powers as him ... It would make sense, because cloning is more or less coming true. It would make sense to talk about that."

Clearly, Holland has a fascination with playing multiple versions of the same character. "The Crowded Room" proved his skills in that regard, as he portrayed a character with DID (dissociative identity disorder). It's also worth noting that Holland is deeply involved in breaking the plot for the fourth MCU Spider-Man movie, as he revealed to THR. "It's a collaborative process," Holland said. "The first few meetings were about, 'Why would we do this again?' And I think we found the reason why. I'm really, really happy with where we're at in terms of the creative."

As enthusiastic as Holland is about playing Spider-Man (and perhaps Scarlet Spider, Kaine, and the like), he can't crawl walls forever. Having already taken a break from acting after "No Way Home," it wouldn't be a surprise if and when he bins the costume for good. What better way to handle the exit than to have another Spider-clone step in? 

Holland doesn't have to play every clone. Or perhaps at the end of the "Clone Saga" movie, Ben could alter his face (to a new actor) so he can start a more independent, less-Peter-Parkery life. This is based on comics, so why not to have fun with it?

Spider-Man clones could mean Sony spin-offs we'd actually want to see

Ben Reilly doesn't have to be the lead Spider-clone, either. There's also Kaine, the botched first clone of Peter Parker, who immediately began to degenerate, was cast aside by the Jackal, and went on to become a brutal vigilante obsessed with protecting the original Peter Parker at all costs. Kaine is one of those untrustworthy antihero types (think Venom, but less sticky), and in the comics, eventually took on the role of Scarlet Spider himself. On the pure villain front, there's Spidercide, who could easily face off against any of the heroic Spider-people. 

In this quintet of characters, the live-action Spider-Verse could truly thrive, and benefit not only Marvel — but Sony as well. Because why do all these clones have to stick in the MCU, when there are so many handle portals to other universes? The Venomverse (or SPUMC, or whatever they're calling it this month) has been dying from its need for a Spidery hero to face off against all the villains being aggressively forced into antihero roles. What better way for Sony to untangle their ruined web than to have Ben Reilly or Kaine fall into this universe, allowing for Peter Parker to stay in the MCU while the Sonyverse gets their own hero? 

To replicate the booming success of "No Way Home" and "Spider-Verse," the choice is simple — send in the clones.