Spider-Man: No Way Home did the impossible and brought together three different versions of the wall-crawler on the same live-action project. Watching Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire share the screen while fighting alongside each other was beyond magical. It felt like a dream come true for many Spider-Man fans who were awaiting such an exhilarating crossover, and that was reflected in the movie's box-office success.
As of September 2023, Spider-Man: No Way Home had grossed 1.91 billion dollars, making it the third highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. With numbers like those, it shouldn't come as a surprise Sony reportedly wants to catch lightning in a bottle again and unite all three major versions of the web-slinger in Spider-Man 4. However, not everyone is on board with that idea, as it is reported that Tom Holland and Kevin Feige, head of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, want the next Spider-Man movie to be more grounded and not a big multiversal crossover.
Even if it may seem like a no-brainer to bring back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield sooner rather than later in the MCU, we have to be on Kevin Feige's side on this one. Spider-Man 4 should be a personal Peter Parker story where he doesn't get help from other heroes (even if those heroes are alternate versions of himself) and here's why:
We don't want another Spider-Man 3 scenario
Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 will forever go in history as being a middling ending to a fantastic trilogy of superhero movies. Tobey Maguire's final swing before hanging the mask was crammed with too many characters and different storylines for it to be a cohesive and enjoyable experience. But it wasn't always supposed to be that way.
Sam Raimi wanted the third chapter in his superhero saga to focus on Harry Osborn's New Goblin and the Sandman. However, it's widely known at this point that Sony pushed for him to include Venom as well for "popularity's sake". They believed a villain as well-known as Venom would sell more movie tickets and result in a greater profit. But while they were right and the movie did have a great box office result, that decision hurt them in the long term more than they could've imagined.
Spider-Man 3 was a bit of a mess when it was first released, and it failed to gain the same amount of critical acclaim its predecessors enjoyed. Due to that, Sony was forced to reboot the character in an arguably less successful saga that ended in under just three years. With that in mind, we have to ask: what if Sony hadn't enforced any creative decision based on short-term financial gain? Maybe Spider-Man 3 would've been another smashing hit, allowing Sam Raimi to create more Spider-Man projects that had every chance to be more profitable than the Amazing Spider-Man franchise ever was.
Going back to the MCU's Spider-Man 4; we don't need another project where creatives such as Kevin Feige are forced to use any character just because Sony thinks their inclusion could earn more money. Seeing as that very same scenario destroyed a beloved Spider-Man saga already, we don't want history to repeat itself. Besides, let's not forget there are other suitable projects where Andrew and Tobey could very well make a return.
Secret Wars is coming either way
A big complaint about the MCU's phase 4, which was the start of Marvel's multiversal saga, is that it didn't feature multiversal stories all that often. Granted, there were projects such as Loki, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Spider-Man: No Way Home that explored other worlds and realities. But that was about it. All other movies dealt with different themes, and for the first time in a very long time, it appeared Marvel wasn't building towards anything bigger.
However, having Spider-Man 4 use the same key plot as No Way Home won't make the MCU feel like it has a clear direction all of a sudden. If anything, Marvel should focus on tying the heroes that haven't explored other worlds yet to a multiversal narrative. Not on making the same three characters revisit such a concept over and over again.
Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire shouldn't be the only two characters from other worlds that delve into ours. Marvel should let other heroes take the spotlight as well, while Tom Holland's Peter Parker goes through a personal and grounded Spider-Man adventure. After all, the three Spider-Men will most surely meet each other again in Avengers: Secret Wars. If their reunion happens before that... well, it will feel less like a special event and more like an overly-used gimmick.
Spider-Man: No Way Home's ending would be undone
Many people see Jon Watts' Spider-Man trilogy as an origin of sorts for Tom Holland's Peter Parker. The wall-crawler is now in a position where he can stand on his own after being helped by Tony Stark and Doctor Strange, receiving constant support from Ned Lee as his guy in the chair, and living with Aunt May for years. As the whole world has forgotten about the teenager's existence, he'll have no other option but to navigate both his personal and his superhero life all by himself. If that doesn't happen and instead he's aided yet once again by Tobey and Andrew, it will cheapen No Way Home's ending.
Sony and Marvel should let Tom Holland's Peter Parker have, at the very least, one movie where the spotlight shines completely on him and nobody else. After all, it's not like every single Spider-Man comic features the appearances of other superheroes. In fact, the most beloved wall-crawler storylines deal with grounded and personal themes such as the death of Gwen Stacy of Kraven's last hunt. We should have one of those stories (as No Way Home hinted) before Peter is inevitably brought back into a greater interconnected universe.
Let's hope that Sony makes a decision based on what's best for the Spider-Man character rather than on what could make more money. It's a lot to ask from a company that historically does the latter, but maybe they've learned from their past mistakes.