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Doctor Strange Director Makes Intriguing Remark About Spider-Man In The MCU

As often happens on the internet, it started with a joke and ended with something that makes you question the fundamental nature of reality.

In this case, the reality is that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Spider-Man, whose tangled strands of spin-offs, potential crossovers, and custody battles between corporate parents would seem convoluted enough already without someone throwing a wrench into the center of that web.

The wrench was prompted by writer and director Duncan Jones, who responded to a Nerdist prompt on Twitter November 23 –– "Describe your personality in a single gif from the MCU" –– with a clip of a cartoon Spider-Ham sipping from a mug (and nearly ruining a coffee table) from 2018's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

This being Twitter, someone called him out (politely, at least), saying that Spider-Verse wasn't actually a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather than respond directly, Jones reached out for backup. "Tangential connections through portals is covered under the Dr Strange subsection. Can i have a ruling, @scottderrickson?"

"All Spider-man iterations are defacto MCU," Scott Derrickson, director of the MCU's Doctor Strange, responded.

Will the third Spider-Man movie contain multiple versions of Spider-Man?

In context, this certainly looks like a joke, a friend helping a friend who reached out to him with a quippy one-liner. Derrickson has exited the director's chair for the Doctor Strange sequel and his ties to the MCU are looser than they've been in half a decade, but he's still probably not confirming major spoilers via Twitter reply.

But — and this is a big "but" — the evidence seems to indicate that it's a joke with more than a kernel of possibility to it. Said sequel that Derrickson was at one time planning to direct is called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Something extra-dimensional is presumably going on there. The upcoming streaming series WandaVision also seems set to twist the boundaries of reality in some way. And Derrickson presumably knows as well as anyone how much speculation is out there about a potential Spider-reunion in the third Marvel Studios- and Sony Pictures-produced Spider-Man film. 

Behind the scenes, more and more crossover is already happening. The person who replaced Derrickson at the helm of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is three-time Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. J.K. Simmons, the once and future J. Jonah Jameson, returned to the part he originated in Raimi's movies for Spider-Man: Far From Home. Jamie Foxx has been confirmed to be returning as Electro for the third movie in the MCU's version of the series, as well. Sure seems like a lot of universes colliding. 

The history of cinematic Spider-Men is already looping back on itself, which gives extra credence to the rumors about the possible returns of Spider-alums Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Everything the MCU impresarios might want from that history seems to be fair game. Thank you, Spider-Verse.

What other Spider-Men from across the multiverse might appear?

In fact, why stop at the cinematic history of Spider-Man? Derrickson did say that Spider-Verse and all movie Spider-Men are de facto MCU. How far can we go with his "all?" If we take the joke at face value, then the line is clearly not drawn at the live-action medium. If the Spider-Men and Spider-Gwen of Into the Spider-Verse count, then are other animated versions fair game? The Spectacular Spider-Man? The 90's Spider-Man and his striped polo shirts? Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

And if those animated television series are incorporated into the fold, then why not his live-action TV appearances too? Forget Maguire and Garfield; bring back Nicholas Hammond, who made his name as Freidrich von Trapp in The Sound of Music and went on to play Peter Parker in the 1977 series The Amazing Spider-Man. Or Shinji Tōdō, who starred in the Japanese Spider-Man series where the hero is a motocross racer who pilots his own giant alien robot.

What other possibilities exist for expanding the Spider-Verse?

The comic book storyline that partially inspired Into The Spider-Verse has already explored this possibility, throwing just about every conceivable version of the character –– down to the giant robot –– into one multiverse-spanning plot to stop a powerful group of spider-hunting vampires known as the Inheritors.

So far the response from the studios has been to neither confirm nor deny Maguire and Garfield's involvement in any new films. If the pair are returning for parts bigger than a Stan Lee-style cameo, then Electro on his own probably isn't a big-enough threat to warrant the intervention of a trio of Spider-Men. Will this finally be the movie that makes good on the long-promised formation of the Sinister Six? Or will the threat be extra-dimensional as well, something similar to what Doctor Strange will face in his movie?

The as-yet-untitled Spider-Man: Far from Home sequel is expected to be released December 17, 2021, so fans can expect to learn the answers to at least some of these questions as that date approaches.