One of the most adorable moments in Avengers: Infinity War is when Spider-Man meets Doctor Strange. It’s less than thirty seconds but it’s a great character beat for Peter Parker and the “who has time for you” look Strange gives him is loaded with potential which neither Infinity War or Endgame really got to pay off. Well no more shall that potential go unremarked, as Benedict Cumberbatch will return as Doctor Strange in Spider-Man 3. This also means that the eventual press tour comes equipped with a built-in babysitter for Tom Holland, who is notorious for blurting out plot details if caught off guard. I wonder if this Spidey movie will be called Spider-Man: At Home with the Babysitter.
Honestly, though, Marvel is pretty good at pairing actors they notice have chemistry in the real world, as we saw with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s press tour bromance being capitalized upon for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I bet this dynamic translates well to the big screen. Tony Stark was Peter’s most reckless and child-endangering mentor, but just as Cumbercubes babysits Tom Holland on a press tour, so too will Doctor Strange babysit Peter Parker during a world-threatening event.
With the news that Jamie Foxx is reprising the role of Electro in the movie, fans immediately jumped to a multiverse theory as an explanation for how Electro can cross from the Amazing Spider-Man movies to the current MCU Spider-verse. Jamie Foxx dropped a clue that he’s maybe not playing the exact same version of the character, though, indicating Electro is in for a redesign, so I don’t quite buy that Spider-Man 3 is going to be a full-blown multiverse story. But with Strange joining up as Peter’s latest mentor—honestly, he goes through father figures like Spinal Tap drummers—it does seem there will be some inter-dimensionality to Spider-Man 3. Like, at this point I fully expect Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to pop up in cameos, and if Sony and Marvel are REALLY smart, they’ll incorporate the animated characters from Into the Spider-Verse, too.
I think what Marvel is doing here is slow-rolling the multiverse theory for the audience. It’ll get introduced as a concept in WandaVision, then Spider-Man 3 will expand the concept in some way—perhaps related to Quentin Beck’s lie that he was from another dimension—and then boom, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness goes whole-hog and it’s an interdimensional free for all. The only question is what, if anything, The Eternals and Loki contribute to the conversation, since both projects feature dimension-hopping characters. This is basically how Marvel handled the Infinity Stones in the last decade, slowly introducing the concept and building up to a world-breaking story, but I think the lesson Marvel has learned is they don’t have to take a whole decade to do it, they can introduce and break a concept within a couple years. It also means by the time DC release The Flash in November 2022, Marvel will have put out at least two movies that deal in some way with a multiverse. Will audiences get tired of multiverses?