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Even with an entire Spider-Verse at our disposal, it’s hard to envision Spider-Man in the movies these days without the anchoring presence of Tom Holland. Sony’s 2015 deal to bring Spidey into the MCU fold forever changed the course of Marvel movies far beyond the new direction the web-slinger took from previous Spider-Man films, but it also effectively brought The Amazing Spider-Man series, only midway through its planned four-movie run, to an unceremonious and abrupt halt.
Director Marc Webb and star Andrew Garfield’s collaborative take on Peter Parker was only just getting warmed up when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 closed things out in 2014, teeing up a bunch of future Marvel character introductions and comic book-based events that, sadly, never got the chance to grow into the full-scale Spidey franchise that Sony originally had planned. When data hackers targeted Sony Pictures in late 2014 and exposed a bunch of confidential info on upcoming movies, Sony finally decided to hang up Garfield’s Spidey suit — seemingly for good.
**Spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: No Way Home**
But now that Garfield’s making headlines once again, sharing some fun screen time with Holland in Spider-Man: No Way Home, we can’t help but wonder: What kind of Spider-Man stories did Sony leave lying on the table when it made the big pivot away from The Amazing Spider-Man and toward the MCU? Since we never got a third (and fourth) Amazing Spider-Man movie, there’s no way to know for certain. But in the years since our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler joined the MCU, a surprising amount of fun possibilities have surfaced.
For one thing, Sony’s Spider-Man franchise was meant to spin off into an entire movie-verse that could compete with Marvel’s growing MCU. Sony intended to bring the Sinister Six into the fold with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost writing veteran Drew Goddard directing what would’ve been one of several Spidey movie spinoffs (another being Venom, under different creative guidance than the current Ruben Fleischer-directed version).
The Sinister Six already had been teased in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, presumably setting up what could’ve been an epic Spidey showdown if Sony had stayed the course. While it’s tough to speculate how the abandoned Sinister Six movie (which was planned to come out first) could have set the stage for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, other threads left hanging in the second film were more clearly left open for further exploration in a sequel.
Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) had died in a tragic comics-based moment during The Amazing Spider-Man 2, leaving Peter with a huge handful of issues he’d no doubt have had to deal with at some point — whether in the Sinister Six movie or the third Amazing Spider-Man film (or both). Whether that might’ve propelled him toward a big revenge/redemption moment we’ll never know, though Gwen wasn’t the only female who’d come into the picture by the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had debuted. Mary Jane Watson (aka MJ) was originally written into the sequel’s story and scenes were filmed with actor Shailene Woodley in the role. Woodley’s scenes, though, were cut from the final version, and her commitment to the Divergent sci-fi film series at the time suggested she’d likely not be able to return for The Amazing Spider-Man 3, leaving another thread dangling in Sony's Spider-Man web.
In the same movie, Sony appeared to already be setting up other character arcs ripe for additional exploration: Tantalizingly, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also introduced Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy (aka Black Cat in the comics), a brief tease that appeared to gain steam — at least for a moment — when the studio revealed in 2017 that it was planning Silver & Black, a standalone Spider-Man spinoff featuring Black Cat and Silver Sable, with creative input from Westworld's Lisa Joy.
Aside from an entirely different version of Venom, of course, none of Sony’s spinoff plans for The Amazing Spider-Man ever made it past the planning stages, leaving present-day fans to ponder what might have been. If there’s a silver lining, it may be that we won’t have to ponder forever: Garfield’s fun reemergence in No Way Home has fans clamoring anew for Sony to revisit his Amazing Spider-Man corner of the web-slinging world. And as the success of Venom has also shown, tons of the studio’s interrupted ideas from the mid-2010s could conceivably pay off in the future, even if it takes a few new tweaks, at the box office.
In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of present-day Spider-Man for everyone. Catch a fresh helping of Tom Holland on the big screen (with a little Andrew Garfield on the side) in Spider-Man: No Way Home, playing now in theaters nationwide.