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MCU Spider-Man 3 release date, cast, villain and theories

For just over a month in the late summer of 2019, pretty much every fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was walking around with a broken heart. It was announced that Sony Pictures and Disney had failed to reach an agreement to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. That meant that Spider-Man: Far From Home, which had just become Sony's first billion-dollar box office success, would be the wall-crawler's last appearance in the venerable franchise.

It was an abrupt, shocking development that seemed to make little sense from either a business or narrative standpoint. But fortunately, thanks to pressure from fans and one gutsy phone call to Disney CEO Bob Iger from Spidey himself (series star Tom Holland), the corporations found their way back to the bargaining table, and a deal was struck. In addition to an appearance in one as-yet unnamed Marvel Studios film, ol' web-head will get at least one more Sony-produced, MCU-set starring vehicle — one that we have a funny feeling will contain the word "home" somewhere in its title. 

Of course, we don't yet have all of the details — but we do have enough to offer a tantalizing picture of what Peter Parker's next solo adventure could look like. Here's everything we know so far about the MCU's Spider-Man 3.

When will the MCU's Spider-Man 3 be released?

Details about Spider-Man's third solo outing in the MCU are exceedingly slim. Surprisingly, though, we already know the film's release date, as it was announced at the same time that Marvel and Sony went public with the renewing of their shared custody deal. Spider-Man: Home is Where the Webs Are (no, that's not the real title — we're just guessing) will hit the big screen on July 16, 2021 — at least, that's where it's slotted at the moment. It's possible it could be pushed off to a later date, for a couple of reasons.

First, Marvel's 2021 slate is already pretty crowded. Previously announced to be on tap for that year are Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, and Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5. If Spidey 3's release date holds up, it would mark the first time Marvel has released four MCU pictures in the same year, which even the most hardcore fans might see as crowding the market. And that's before we even get to that year's MCU Disney+ output.

Also, that summer will see the release of another very, very highly anticipated superhero film: Matt Reeves' The Batman, which hits screens on June 25. The Robert Pattinson-starring flick will be the first Batman solo film in nearly a decade. While Marvel has every reason to be confident in the web-slinger's ability to kill it at the box office, there would be no shame in rethinking putting him up against the Dark Knight.

Who will be in the cast of the MCU's Spider-Man 3?

Marvel's previous two Spider-Man movies have fielded pretty amazing ensemble casts, focusing as they do on Peter Parker's high school life and his relationships with his friends and peers. Best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), friend and love interest MJ (Zendaya), and Ned's summer fling Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) have all made huge impressions on audiences, and while it stands to reason that they'll all be back for ol' Pete's third MCU go-round, nothing has yet been confirmed.

Having said that, there's reason to believe that both Batalon and Zendaya are locks. First, they're key to Parker's growth and character development. Aside from his Aunt May and late, great mentor Tony Stark, they're the most important people in his life. Also, they both happen to know that Peter is Spider-Man.

Aside from that however, consider that both actors were totally psyched when it was announced that Sony and Marvel had made up and were ready to play nice again. Zendaya took to Twitter to post a great "dancing Spidey" GIF, while Batalon all but confirmed his involvement in the new solo flick with comments he mad to ScreenRant. "I'm really happy," the actor said. "I think we were all really set and ready to go with Sony, we were ready to move on and do the third one just with them, but we're more than happy to work with Marvel again." It certainly sounds like Ned is a go.

What will be the plot of the MCU's Spider-Man 3?

Plot details for Spider-Man: Are We Home Yet (also not the actual title) have not been divulged, in all likelihood because the flick is still in early development. We do know one thing, however: life is about to get even more difficult for Peter Parker. Spider-Man: Far From Home ended on a heck of a cliffhanger, with Parker's identity having been revealed to the public thanks to Mysterio (who framed the wall-crawler for his death) and J. Jonah Jameson, who in the MCU is a conspiracy theorist vlogger and not a newspaperman, but who still looks a heck of a lot like J.K. Simmons.

Of course, we can and will speculate. Sony continues to develop its Spidey-related properties independently of Marvel Studios. At the moment, those include Venom 2, Morbiusand Kraven the Hunter, which recently found a screenwriter in The Equalizer series' Richard Wenk. It should be noted that, since the days of the aborted Andrew Garfield-starring Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Sony has been keen to get the Sinister Six — canonically a revolving team of ol' webhead's greatest nemeses — onto the screen. The studio probably knows better than to rush that introduction at this point, but that doesn't mean there won't be some table-setting going on during the events of Spidey's next solo flick.

Will the MCU's Spider-Man 3 cross over with Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters?

With all of the Spider-wheelings and Spider-dealings that have gone on in recent months, fans could be forgiven for being a bit confused as to the nature of Sony and Marvel's relationship at this point. Follow us here: Venom, which starred Tom Hardy (a very bankable star) and featured exactly no references to Spider-Man, surprised everyone by grossing over $850 million worldwide despite lukewarm reviews. Morbius, a solo vehicle for the "Living Vampire" and longtime Spidey nemesis which Sony has on tap for 2020, may very well follow suit. Both films are part of the (thus far) Spidey-less Sony Universe of Marvel Characters. Everyone knows that the MCU reigns supreme — so why not engineer a crossover between (or even a merging of) the two universes?

In fact, this may very well be what's happening, and if so, Spider-Man 3 is likely to be a focal point of the strategy. No less an authority than Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has teased that Spidey is "the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes," and in the past, he's suggested that Hardy's Venom and Holland's Spidey could one day meet on the big screen. It's all but certain that the two studios are busy hashing out the details even as you're reading this — but for now, we'll just have to wait to see how it all plays out.

Who will be the villains of the MCU's Spider-Man 3?

As we previously mentioned, Sony seemingly wants to see the Sinister Six unite to take on Spider-Man onscreen more than any corporation has ever wanted anything. It's actually kind of cute, and as teased in a mid-credits sequence in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, it absolutely would have happened by now if that series would have continued. We obviously don't yet know who will be the main antagonist(s) of Spidey's next MCU solo outing, but we can sure speculate — and if we were to single out any of the baddies Sony is currently laboring away on solo projects for, it would definitely be Kraven the Hunter.

Why, you ask? Well, for one, because the character is super-badass. His magically-enhanced strength and reflexes supplement his skills as a born hunter, and canonically, he's one of the few characters who could actually have killed Spider-Man if he'd wanted to (during the events of the iconic '80s storyline "Kraven's Last Hunt").

Also, remember that Sony is at work developing that solo vehicle for Kraven — and that Spider-Man: Far From Home director Jon Watts has gone on record stating that he loves the character, and would be totally down to feature him in a movie. There's even been a rumor floating around that Marvel is considering retconning Kraven's origin story, presenting him as a member of an exiled Wakandan tribe — but that, of course, is as unconfirmed as it gets.

What theories and rumors have surfaced about the MCU's Spider-Man 3?

With the dearth of available information about Spidey's third solo MCU flick, the rumor mill has rushed in to fill the void. As is usually the case with unsubstantiated rumors involving films with tight lids on production info, the vast majority of the buzz is likely nothing but noise — but one interesting theory stands out for how much sense it makes from a business standpoint.

Said rumor assumes that, after the traumatic month-long separation of Marvel and Sony, the two studios are keen to find a way to creatively write Spider-Man out of the MCU — and that they could do this by adapting a controversial Marvel storyline. One More Day took place in the aftermath of the Civil War event, and saw Spidey make a deal with Mephisto (basically the Devil in the Marvel universe) to rewrite his history in the interest of saving Aunt May's life. 

Such huge details as the public reveal of his identity and marriage to Mary Jane Watson were retconned out of existence in the comic continuity by One More Day. While it's plain to see that any adaptation would have to tweak a truckload full of details, the basic idea of a mystical redo of Spider-Man's history in the MCU could be a sound jumping-off point from which to craft a narrative that would ultimately keep both studios from painting themselves into a corner.

Will Nick Fury and the Skrulls appear in the MCU's Spider-Man 3?

One of Spider-Man: Far From Home's biggest twists (and there were a few) came during the flick's post-credits scene, when it was revealed that the Nick Fury and Maria Hill we'd seen for the entirety of the film were, in fact, Skrull impostors assigned to Parker by the real Fury, who was busy... well, in space, tending to some secret mission or another on a ship full of Skrulls. This, of course, set off a massive wave of speculation that the flick had been tasked with doing a bit of heavy lifting in setting up an MCU adaptation of the Secret Invasion storyline, in which Skrulls infiltrate the highest ranks of power on Earth by way of, you know, imitating everyone.

Remarks made by director Jon Watts seem to indicate, though, that the twist was actually his decision, and not a mandate from on high (he wanted an explanation for the audience as to how Fury could have been duped by Mysterio, which he found to be unlikely). This would likely mean that Fury's space jaunt isn't, in fact, setting up major future developments for the MCU as a whole — so, could it have been teasing a continued role for Fury and/or the Skrulls in the next Spider-Man movie? For now, it's completely unknown — but our money is on the superspy returning to Earth to resume his stewardship of Parker, with a few interesting stories to tell.

Will Spider-Man continue in the MCU after Spider-Man 3?

When Sony and Marvel made up, the first question on fans' minds was the obvious one: for how long? All we know for certain is that, aside from his third solo venture, Spidey will appear in at least one more Marvel Studios film. Beyond that, the future is a question mark. 

Considering that the MCU and Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters are finally making overtures toward recognizing each other's existence, though, there are a few ways it's likely to go. The studios could, as previously mentioned, find a viable narrative way for the character to switch cinematic universes. Or, as Deadline has suggested, they could form a loose connection, with a kind of "call and response" aesthetic which would keep the franchises largely separate, but tangentially connected.

Or, if the two studios can truly see their way clear to giving the fans what they want (and that's a pretty big "if"), the two universes could merge, with Sony's established characters being absorbed into the MCU. It seems like a pretty slight possibility, and it might be — but it also happens to be the option likely to generate the maximum amount of box office dollars, so we're going to go ahead and call it "not impossible."