Next Spider-Man movie will feature another Marvel hero -- but who?

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Dec 18, 2018, 11:00 PM EST (Updated)

Iron Man apparently won't be the only member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come visit Spider-Man in his own franchise.

One of the most exciting aspects of Spider-Man: Homecoming is that Robert Downey Jr. shows up in the movie as Tony Stark/Iron Man, acting as Peter Parker's mentor and collaborator while continuing to integrate Spidey's world into the MCU and vice versa.

According to an extensive Hollywood Reporter look at how Marvel and Sony got together to play nice on Spidey -- the same article that revealed Carnage will show up in Sony's 2018 Venom movie -- the next standalone Spider-Man adventure will also feature an appearance from an MCU star. But it won't be Iron Man again:

Sony will get a to-be-determined Marvel character for Spider-Man 2 like it received for Homecoming with the box-office monster Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr. But sources say it won't be Iron Man next time around.

First of all, that's great news just in terms of keeping the Spider-verse/MCU crossover going, which is something we'd all like to see. But of course the question becomes, who will stop by for a visit next time if it isn't old Shellhead? I can think of half a dozen possibiities:

1) Doctor Stephen Strange: He's the first one that comes to mind, only because he lives in New York too. But I would think that an appearance from Strange would depend on what kind of villain or villains Spidey has to fight in his next movie. Most of his enemies are tech- or science-based, whereas it seems to me that Strange would be the most useful against a supernatural menace (although he did help Spidey fight Mysterio, and there is apparently a Mysterio film in development as well).

2) Bruce Banner/The Hulk: I actually think this could be the most likely choice, given how popular the Hulk is and that Marvel has essentially decided he works better as a supporting player than in his own project. Banner, of course, also works on the Avengers' tech with Tony Stark, so he could come by to help Peter with something if Tony himself can't make it. The X factor is that we don't know where Banner (or Stark, for that matter) will end up after the upcoming events of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, so we're making an assumption that he'll be alive and back on Earth.

3) Steve Rogers/Captain America: Steve of course is a Brooklyn resident, although when we last saw him in Civil War, he was a fugitive and probably not likely to stop home anytime soon. Nevertheless, he's the kind of guy who could give Spider-Man the ultimate hero pep talk if our boy gets himself in a jam. The problem is that Chris Evans has been saying he's pretty definitively done with Cap once the next two Avengers movies play themselves out, so he might be averse to making an encore in someone else's story if Cap goes out in a blaze of glory beforehand.

4) Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff: Scarlett Johansson is one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood, and her contract probably ends with the Avengers sequels as well, but Black Widow is incredibly popular and it doesn't look like she'll ever get a standalone movie either. Plus, teaming her with Spidey (as they did during the 1970s in several issues of Marvel Team-Up) could make for a much different dynamic than pairing him with another older white male superhero -- this younger edition of Peter probably doesn't quite know what to make of a woman like Natasha.

5) Hawkeye/Clint Barton: Like the Hulk and the Widow, Hawkeye seems permanently relegated to MCU support status, but Marvel would probably like to find more for Jeremy Renner to do. This would also extend the much-ballyhooed idea of creating different team-ups or one or two Marvel heroes, instead of just dropping the Hulk into every situation. Hawkeye's skill set could complement Spidey's quite nicely as well.

6) Ant-Man/Scott Lang: This is almost too perfect, because who doesn't want to see Ant-Man and Spider-Man fighting alongside each other? Both of them are not quite comfortable with their status in the Avengers either, which could be a bonding thing, but at the same time there might be some mutual distrust there as well since, they first met each other on opposite sides of the field in Civil War (and after all, it was Spidey who brought down the Giant Man version of Lang). Either way, the back and forth in quips alone would be comedy gold.

Which MCU hero would you like to see show up in the next Spider-Man movie?