In 1984, Marvel Comics published Secret Wars, it’s first ever line-wide crossover event and, in fact, the first event of its kind by any comic book publisher. Secret Wars saw all of Marvel’s heroes and villains transported to the mysterious Battleworld by the Beyonder, one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse. The Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and hosts of villains, Doctor Doom key among them, were grouped into teams to do battle with one another with the promise that the Beyonder would grant them their every wish should they “slay” their enemies.
It was an incredible premise that sold more copies than anything Marvel had published in 25 years and spawned two direct sequels and, in 2015, another sprawling, line-wide Secret Wars event orchestrated by Jonathan Hickman. In Hickman’s Secret Wars, inhabitants of Earth-616 and Earth-1610 found themselves on an all-new Battleworld after the collision of their respective universes destroyed each of them. Hickman’s event once again featured Doctor Doom but leaned much heavier into the concepts and constructs of the multiverse. At the conclusion of the event, Earth-616 was restored and, for a time, served as the only Earth in the Marvel Universe.
In 2019, it was first brought to my attention that Marvel Studios had an eye on developing Secret Wars. In the two years since, there have been multiple, significant developments on that front. The Russo brothers, who once indicated that it would take an event the size of Secret Wars to bring them back, have entered into negotiations with Marvel Studios to return for an unannounced project; Marvel Entertainment recently made moves to secure the rights to characters featured in the original Secret Wars events; the concept of the multiverse was deeply explored in Loki and head writer Michael Waldron may have tipped us off that the studio was headed in the direction of a Secret Wars project; finally, stories began being told through What If…?, Spider-Man: No Way Home that allowed multiversal variants of characters to begin interacting with one another. And it is one such interaction from the mid-credit scene of Spider-Man: No Way Home that might be the biggest piece of evidence yet that a Secret Wars project is headed our way.
We learn from the mid-credit scene of No Way Home that while most of the characters who came through portals during the miscasting of Doctor Strange’s spell ended up converging in New York City, Eddie Brock spent his time drinking in Mexico and getting a brief history lesson about the heroes and villains of this dimension. When Strange’s new spell sent everyone back where they belonged, a piece of the symbiote was left behind. It certainly doesn’t make any sense given how we saw Strange’s spell work on everyone else, but the symbiote is here and once Peter finds it, it’ll set the stage for Secret Wars.
Marvel Studios has often indicated that they don’t intend to create projects that are direct adaptations of the comic books on which they are based. They are more likely to grab onto catchy titles and moments from those arcs. For example, Captain America: Civil War was nothing like the comic book event but it did recreate an iconic comic book panel. The studio is likely to do the same with Secret Wars and nothing from that event is more iconic than Peter Parker first donning the black, symbiote suit with the large, white Spider logo across the chest.
Getting Parker in the black, symbiote suit is almost certainly a key precursor to Marvel Studios Secret Wars project. so the symbiote fragment being left behind in No Way Home to eventually be found by Parker is the first big step in preparing him for whatever version of the story they choose to tell. As was pointed out during the premiere of No Way Home, Tom Holland’s contract calls for one more appearance in a Marvel Studios film and there’s no bigger project in the works than Secret Wars. It could potentially reunite Holland with the Russo brothers, who introduced his Spider-Man to fans in Civil War and made him a significant player in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Given what we’ve already seen in Loki and what the post-credit scene teaser for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness suggested, the multiverse is going to be in disarray and it’s all but certain that a major battle between universes is in the cards. The pieces are all in place now, including Spider-Man looking the part. All we need now is the official announcement.