Spider-Verse Is Here To Show The MCU How To Do Multiverses Right

It’s extremely weird that we have two Spider-Man movies both exploring the idea of multiverses separately. It’s proof that, of all the parallel universes we could have been born into, we live in the IP Universe, where profit is king and all ideas are terrible unless somebody else has already proved it can make money. While the MCU’s multiverse already feels tiresome though, Spider-Verse’s feels fresh and worthwhile.

Spider-Verse got there first, and that counts for a lot. It’s also keenly straightforward in its depiction of the multiverse – a bunch of Spider-People work together. It trusts its audience to run with that idea, and that means it gets to tell some fascinating stories. We have the typical Miles-father-uncle narrative, as well as Miles coming of age and learning what it means to be a superhero, but we also see a depressed Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy afforded her own spotlight, and brilliant supporting roles from Spider-Noir, Spider-Ham, and Peni Parker.

Related: Stop The MCU I Want To Get OffContrast that with the MCU. Loki had unleashed the multiverse, or maybe it was Doctor Strange, or maybe it was Venom. It might even have been Wanda. It’s connected to Kang, maybe, who was introduced and killed in a single scene, except he’s not dead. He’s a time traveller, probably, and all the stuff from the comics is going to come to the MCU now. Except it might not. Also he’s Iron Lad. But he probably isn’t. Oh, and the Loki who developed over a decade is dead, but this one fell in love with another version of himself so that six episode arc should replace ten years of character development, right? No problem.

Also Kang, Thanos, and the Eternals are connected, but actually, are they? Also also Doctor Strange probably saw Kang when he scanned the different timelines, except he might not have, and then Doctor Strange in Spider-Man might not even be Doctor Strange. All we know is multiverses are cool and the hordes of people who flock to see every MCU film are definitely keeping up. Unless they’re just pretending. Which they almost certainly are.

Maybe I’m being harsh. We haven’t even seen what the MCU will do with the multiverse yet, so it might all work out. Shang-Chi was the best choreographed MCU film ever, and WandaVision is one of my favourite TV shows this year. I’m a paid up member of the Marvel fanclub. If the follow up to Hawkeye was Kate Bishop Goes For A Coffee and it’s just Kate sat in a coffee shop for 90 minutes with a latte and a croissant, I’d watch it. But the multiverse idea feels rushed, and worse, it feels copied from Spider-Verse.

The stories unfolding in Spider-Verse are Miles’ blossoming maturity, his romance with Gwen, the arrival of Miguel O’Hara, and the newfound ability to hop through (or rather, across) dimensions at will. The multiverse is just the foundation for a very human story.

Spider-Man: No Way Home could do something similar. Unlike the other Marvel heroes, Spider-Man has always maintained a secret identity, plus he’s growing up, Aunt May and Happy are together, he’s finally got it together with MJ, and is hopefully going to move past the spectre of Tony Stark. But that’s not what any of us care about, is it? We all just want to see Tobey Maguire.

It has gotten to the point where a cynical part of me hopes neither Maguire nor Garfield are in the movie at all. It already feels too full with Peter, the supporting cast, Strange, way too many villains, and likely Venom. Peter not wanting to send the villains back to their own universe where they will die is the perfect angle for Tom Holland’s soft boi Parker, but it’ll be quipped into insignificance most likely, and the odds only rise with Maguire and Garfield involved. It stops being about that and becomes a classic Marvel story, now with added star-power and far too many characters to develop across a two-hour film.

Where Spider-Verse uses multiverses to tell a story, the MCU uses multiverses as the story. As the selling point. As the advert. As the seat filler. As the whatever-it-needs-to-be to make money.

It wouldn’t be so bad that the MCU had stolen its big hook from Spider-Verse if it was trying to do something interesting with it, but it seems like it’s largely being used to cram as many profitable characters into one movie as it can. Spider-Noir wasn’t chosen because he would fill seats, and that’s the major difference here. Maybe one day I’ll step into a universe where blockbusters are driven by creativity and not profit. Somehow, I doubt it.

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