MCU? More Like MC-WHO!
Before I get started, it should be known that this article is sort of a spiritual sequel to my article from the beginning of the year Is the Marvel Cinematic Universe too Much of a Connected Universe?, so before you read this, you might want to read that. It’s on the Paper Lion website, so it shouldn’t take you too long. Another thing, this article will contain spoilers for both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so you have been warned.
All good? Good. Now we can talk about the craziness that is happening in the MCU, and how Marvel clearly hasn’t read my article, as it has become even more difficult to jump into this universe. My previous article left off on a bit of an interesting note; I acknowledged how difficult it can be for newcomers to catch up to the MCU and how that can potentially alienate new viewers, and also explained how it would be a difficult decision for Disney and Marvel on how to solve this issue. Let’s just say that the choice they went with definitely won’t make it easier for newcomers.
Remember that dartboard analogy I used in my previous article to explain the interlocking narrative threads in the MCU? Get another dartboard. In fact, get an infinite number of dartboards, because the way that Marvel is going with their movies, we’re gonna need them. Let’s do another analogy. This time, we’ll do Spider-Man: No Way Home. So, to understand everything that happens in these movies, we can take a thread through movies such as Doctor Strange, the previous two MCU Spider-Man films, and we can finally bring Netflix’s Daredevil into the MCU. However, this is where things get tricky. As everyone who saw the movie knows, Spider-Man: No Way Home features substantial roles for both the villains from Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man and Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, as well as both actors reprising their roles as the Spider-Men from their respective universes. If that wasn’t enough, the movie also has a cameo from Sony’s Venom, with Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock making an appearance. So with our dartboard analogy, we now have four separate dartboards: The MCU dartboard, the Andrew Garfield dartboard, the Tobey Magurie dartboard, and the Sony-Marvel dartboard. All these dartboards have their own threads with their own movies, do you see what I’m getting at?
Spider-Man: No Way Home finally opened the door to the multiverse, a term which basically allows Marvel to pull from any property they have made in the past, MCU or not, in order to put characters in the MCU. Now it should be said, these cameos are exactly what they are, cameos. Both Tobey and Andrew, as well as their respective villains, all return to their own universes at the end of the film (although Tom Hardy does seem to leave behind a piece of Venom, possibly hinting at a return). However, the most recent Doctor Strange film does not simply have cameos.
I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum as the movie is fairly new, but some details will obviously slip in. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the first MCU film to deal with the multiverse in a major way. The film follows Doctor Strange as he goes through multiple universes to help the new character America Chavez. The film features many cameos from characters who have not shown up in the MCU yet, and while it could be argued that these are also cameos, the film, as well as Disney, would disagree. The film establishes that people can exist across multiple universes. For example, Wanda, played by Elizabeth Olsen, is shown to exist in many different universes, so it stands to reason that some of these cameo characters could very well exist in the MCU universe, and Disney seems to agree. According to Disney and Marvel, a film is in the works that features one of the characters in the film. Obviously, those who know about the upcoming movies can get a good idea of who I am referring to, but I won’t say more for the people who want to remain in the dark.
So what is the point? My previous article ended with me being curious about how Disney could walk the line between catering to fans while also being accessible to newcomers. These previous two films, however, have made one thing clear. Disney no longer cares about being accessible to newcomers. With the introduction of the multiverse, they are able to pull characters from any property from the past. They already have a revival of the X-Men cartoon from the ‘90s, with X-Men ‘97 slated to release on Disney+. Could this be a part of the MCU? Who knows at this point. If they wanted to, they could bring back Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider from his movies from the mid-2000s.
Now, while this may all sound very pessimistic for newcomers, here’s the truth. While it is very possible that Disney and Marvel can pull in all these other characters from past properties into the MCU, truthfully I don’t think they will. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were crazy because fans have wanted them back for so long, and Marvel knew this. The movie was a way to please these hardcore fans. In reality, while it is entirely possible for Disney to bring back Ben Affleck as another form of Daredevil, I don’t think they will. Call it wishful thinking, but surely Marvel knows that there needs to be a limit. At most, I can see them bringing in the X-Men from the Fox movies as those were both fairly recent and fairly popular. More than likely, if they’re going to bring in obscure characters from their cinematic past, they’ll likely just be cameos, there for the people who know, but they won’t detract from the viewing experience if you don’t. I ended the last article in a similar place to this one, so I suppose we’ll see what kind of universe (or universes) Disney and Marvel feel like making.