‘Spider-Man’ Beyond ‘No Way Home’: A Balancing Act

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As Marvel Studios prepares its future phases and the Multiverse Saga, there is still one key character seemingly missing on the horizon. After making a massive splash at the box office during the pandemic, Spider-Man: No Way Home took our favorite wall-crawler to his limits as he faced Variants, tragedy, and a world that has forgotten who he is. It raised the question of what the future might have in store for him beyond the lurking Symbiote left behind by a multiversal visitor.

The ending of that project highlighted a potentially new direction, as Spider-Man was no longer a well-recognized face without his mask. The entire world has forgotten Peter Parker and he’s lost everyone dear to him. Without Aunt May or his friends by his side, he now has to do his best to cover rent, follow up on his education, and balance life as Spider-Man. The future seems difficult and challenging for our favorite hero.

At the same time, it opens up a new challenge for Marvel Studios and whoever may take over the franchise. While Spider-Man: Homecoming was a bit more grounded, he still was shackled under the shadow of his mentor and an Avenger. His first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had him take on Captain America, he would travel into space, take down Thanos alongside his army, fight fake elementals, join Nick Fury’s mission, and so much more.

No Way Home brings magic and the multiverse to Spidey’s corner of the MCU, which seemed like the perfect high point for the development of this trilogy. Yet, it opens up the question of: where do you go now? Any higher and we might lose any fabric of what defines Spider-Man. We already had five films before this trilogy. So, it seemed fitting that they’d take him to new places and further explore his time in the comics, where he ended up getting wrapped up in other characters’ plots in various team-ups. Plus, if you introduce Peter Parker into the MCU, it comes with the territory.

Yet, the answer is still not there for what to do next. A fourth entry is definite after the last film’s success and Sony’s ongoing deal with Marvel. They both want Tom Holland‘s take on the character to remain a sturdy figure in the franchise. With the ending of No Way Home leaving the young man on his own, it seems like perhaps the best strategy is to take a step back rather than continue to push forward. In a world without Avengers, there are no more ties to a bigger world but a whole new one to explore.

Swinging throughout the snow-covered New York City, Peter is on his own. Yet, it comes with a new freedom that no longer sees him as part of what he once was. It seems fitting that perhaps his time in college also comes with a more grounded time as the wall-crawler. He’s no longer in a place where he has to face world-ending threats but rather help the locals. Everyone still remembers the webhead and he is no longer in a place where the Avengers will just call for him. Now, he has time to figure out his place in a world that doesn’t remember him.

The sequel will likely be a story in a smaller scope even with the Symbiote on the horizon. Its tease actually sets up the perfect comic tribute with him potentially getting his hands on it during Avengers: Secret Wars as he did in the comic. We shouldn’t expect that storyline to instantly kick off, as Marvel Studios has a challenging balance to keep moving forward. We’ll see him in Avengers films but we’ll likely not see him in the same capacity as before.

He’s no longer an Avenger and none of the remaining members would even know that he is Peter Parker. So, he’s just a guy in a costume that helped out. So, moving forward we’ll still have these bigger-than-life stories with Spider-Man but his own franchise will take that step back to ground him even more. The balance that Marvel Studios and Sony will have to balance moving forward is the very notion of his two worlds. No matter how you look at it, it’s going to be a tough balancing act, and either they once again restart a trilogy that continues to escalate or try to create a distinct line between Peter Parker’s two alter-egos: Spider-Man and forgotten Avenger.

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