Sorry, But the MCU's Spider-Man Probably Won't Be Like Harry Potter
How can Marvel go ahead with this new Spider-Man in the MCU?
When #Marvel introduced #SpiderMan into the MCU, they took a big gamble - they returned to the superhero's 15-year-old roots, showing him as a high school kid who gets caught up in the world of superheroes and supervillains. But Tom Holland's casting was inspired, and the new Spider-Man stole every scene he swung across in Captain America: Civil War. All of which leaves an interesting question: how can Marvel go ahead with this new Spider-Man in the MCU?
Speaking to Collider, Marvel visionary #KevinFeige openly discussed the future of Spider-Man.
“Should we be able to make more after that? Sure. This is sophomore year, is the next one junior year? Is the next one senior year? Is there a summer break between each of those? I don’t know what, but it was sort of how do we do a journey for Peter not dissimilar for what the students of Hogwarts would go through each of their years, which was one of the early ideas we had for the movies.”
It's a fascinating idea, and you can see the attraction. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books each spanned an academic year, usually beginning with his birthday (31st July, for all those Muggles who don't know), charting his summer experiences, and then telling you all about his school year. Kevin Feige is toying with the same kind of idea for Spider-Man, and it definitely sounds to be an interesting one.
The Problem With the Idea
The sad truth is, though, that this is unlikely to work - because Spider-Man is part of a shared universe. When Marvel originally launched the MCU, there was no real idea of timescale. A vague (and very odd) attempt was made to create a chronology in the tie-in comic Avengers: Fury's Big Week, which tried to set up Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk as all happening in the same week. This continuity was abandoned in the run-up to Captain America: Civil War, with Feige setting a very simple timeline in place: each film now happens in the year it was released. So Tony Stark became Iron Man in 2008, the Avengers fought off the Chitauri in 2012, and the Sokovia Accords became law in 2016.
That means that Peter Parker - who was 15 in Captain America: Civil War - will at the very least be approaching age 16 in Spider-Man: Homecoming. A sequel hasn't been planned yet, but is likely to be slotted in for 2019 - the Sony hacks in 2014 told us that Marvel and Sony were initially planning to release a solo Spider-Man film every two years.
Now let's imagine that Kevin Feige changes the way this continuity works, so the Spider-Man films dictate the timeline for the MCU. So 2017 is, say, the story of 16-year-old Peter Parker, and a 2019 sequel is only set a year later. That would mean Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Ant-Man and the Wasp will all take place in the same year. Depending on exactly when this hypothetical sequel was released, Captain Marvel and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 may also take place in the same year.
At first glance, this doesn't seem terribly problematic. But now remember that the MCU is a lot more than just the movies; time passes in tie-in shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example. We already know that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 is starting off six months after the end of Season 3 (remember the amazing teaser?). In fact, most seasons have enjoyed the fact that time's passed, using the time-jump to change the dynamic between Fitz and Simmons, have Simmons become a spy in HYDRA, cement Coulson's leadership, and any number of small changes. Given that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to tie into the MCU, you'd essentially have two seasons of the show slotted into one year of events, and things would get more than a little awkward. The more shows Marvel Entertainment gets in the works, the worse it would get - and Marvel Entertainment has a lot of plans, as we were reminded at SDCC!
I can see the attraction to Kevin Feige's idea, but I don't think it could really work. More likely is that 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming features a 16-year-old Peter Parker, a 2019 sequel features an 18-year-old Peter Parker, and the third film sees him moving on to college. As much as Marvel love the idea of a high school Peter Parker, the character will age, and will have to do so in line with the rest of the MCU. It's worth noting that I don't think Feige has settled on this concept at all yet; he's just toying with ideas, and we fans are getting excited about them (which I completely get!).
If you want to see a complete timeline of the MCU - including the tie-in comics, the TV and Netflix shows, the one-shots, and more - check out my MCU Chronology! As you'll see, the reality is that Spider-Man's being added to a rich and diverse universe, one that's greater even than the wall-crawler himself. His introduction in Captain America: Civil War was tremendous, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is sure to be phenomenal!