The (sort of) surprising return of Andrew Garfield in this month’s Spider-Man: No Way Home already has fans buzzing about the potential of his character’s future. While any plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 were scrapped when Sony announced Marvel Studios would once again reboot the web-slinger in 2015, the multiversal trajectory of the MCU’s next phase has opened the door for any project to become possible. As such, enthusiastic members of the Spider-Man fandom have already started petitioning for Sony to put a third Garfield-led film into production.
If this were to ever become a reality, it’s likely the movie’s plot would have to be dramatically different from what was originally mapped out. Garfield is now an older version of Peter Parker, and his dialogue in No Way Home hints that events in his universe played out unlike anything we’d seen set up in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Last we saw “Peter-Three”, he was engaged in battle with Paul Giamatti‘s Rhino, triumphantly returning to heroics after the death of his love Gwen Stacy. While we may never know for certain what exactly was to come next, it is possible to get an idea of Sony and director Marc Webb‘s general plot ideas from a collection of interview sound bites over the past decade.
The first hint at genuine story details for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 came from actor and comedian Denis Leary, who portrayed Captain George Stacy in both previous movies. In an interview with IGN at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Leary was asked his thoughts on the cancellation of his Spider-Man franchise. His response was far more intriguing than could have been anticipated:
I was disappointed because I’m totally selfish and greedy. I came back briefly in two and possibly in [The Amazing Spider-Man] 3, there was this idea at one point that Spider-Man would be able to take this formula and regenerate the people in his life that had died. So, there was this discussion that Captain Stacy would come back even bigger in episode 3. So, I was like, let’s go!Denis Leary
This sounds absolutely bonkers, but it doesn’t come without comic book precedence. Shortly after Marvel published The Night Gwen Stacy Died, they introduced a new villain to the Spider-Man mythos. Professor Miles Warren, a.k.a. the mad scientist Jackal, would go on to be involved in multiple controversial story arcs that involved him using Peter and Gwen’s DNA to create a variety of spider-clones and revive characters thought long-dead, mainly Gwen herself. This climaxed in the well-known 1990’s “Clone Saga” plot, where it was revealed that the many new versions of Peter and his deceased loved ones were actually all part of a ploy concocted by yet another thought-dead character from his past. I’m referring, of course, to the infamous former Green Goblin, Norman Osborn.
Chris Cooper had a brief role in the last Garfield film as a dying Osborn, passing away after leaving his “Osborn curse” and the Goblin mantle to Dane DeHaan‘s Harry. According to a 2017 Marc Webb interview with Den of Geek, this was never supposed to be the last time we saw Cooper. The filmmaker revealed the actor was initially slated to return as the surprise main villain in The Amazing Spider-Man 3:
Yeah, we were talking about the Sinister Six. They were going to make a Sinister Six movie before we did the third one. But I wanted…Chris Cooper was going to come back and play the Goblin. We were going to freeze his head, and then he was going to be brought back to life. And then there was that character called The Gentleman. We had some notions about how to do it…that was going to be the main villain. He was going to come out and lead the Sinister Six.Marc Webb
For those counting at home, that’s two major plot points taken directly from the Clone Saga. Of course, the inclusion of the Sinister Six, which was also teased at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, does take the film in a slightly altered direction. However, Webb makes a point to note that the super-villain team would first appear in their own movie, which was to be directed by Drew Goddard and was rumored to feature Garfield’s Spider-Man in a supporting role. There is no clarification on how involved the Six and the Wall-Crawler would be in each other’s solo outings, but it’s possible the villainous team would have been a more physical threat to pair with the psychological conundrum of Stacy clones running around everywhere.
If this seems like a lot of plots for one movie, it’s because it is. Yet, the Amazing franchise was sort of known for putting too much into one movie. For example, the one that tanked everything had a Goblin arc, an Electro plot, a love story, a Sinister Six set-up, and a C-plot involving Peter discovering his parents’ role in an international weapons scheme and the special nature of his own genetics. So, yeah, it seems likely they really may have gone for both the Clone Saga and the Sinister Six…in one film. After all, the idea of cloning lines up with the aforementioned Parker genetics’ throughline Sony was weaving in their superhero movies.
The now-famous Sony email hack of 2014 also hinted at elements from the Ultimate Comics version of the Clone Saga being used in the future of the Amazing series. In a now-deleted article from CBM, some of the leaked emails were detailed and revealed that Sony executives had actually discussed bringing back Emma Stone‘s Gwen Stacy in the same fashion as her Ultimate counterpart:
Hannah Minghella brings up a suggestion made in jest by Emma Stone that she returns as Carnage (like in the Ultimate comics) as a ‘thought to consider for the future’ because it ‘could be really cool/sexy/intense to see.Email Received by CBM
This revelation lines up shockingly well with a deleted scene from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which featured the unexpected return of Peter’s father Richard. A resurrection of a similar kind, with the elder Parker claiming to have actually secretly survived his supposed death, comes straight from the pages of the Ultimate Clone Saga story. The potential return of Gwen also could have fixed a brewing problem for Sony, where the cast-but-never-seen Shailene Woodley said she was unsure about coming back to play Mary Jane in the threequel:
I don’t know anything but seeing as how they picked up the next two ‘Divergent’ films, I don’t know how I would keep my sanity with two big action films in one year. But anything can happen.Shailene Woodley
As previously stated, it’s possible fans may never know what was actually supposed to happen in The Amazing Spider-Man 3. A lot of what is presented here is conjecture, based on short looks into a long, turbulent filmmaking process. Leary‘s claims of revival could have been from a version of the story written before Webb decided on Osborn and the Sinister Six. The information about Stone’s role reprisal and Woodley’s maybe-departure could be completely unrelated. Realistically, however, it does seem very likely that parts of the next Amazing were set to be inspired by the Clone Saga, with Garfield’s Peter Parker conceivably going up against a team of supervillains while contending with “clones” of those he lost. It’s a lot, but that’s what the The Amazing Spider-Man franchise’s legacy will always be.