Are the Sony superhero movies connected to the MCU?
Morbius recently landed in movie theaters, which raises an important question: are the Sony superhero movies connected to the MCU?
The short answer is yes, but the storied Sony-Marvel relationship is complicated. It takes a roadmap to navigate the ever-expanding MCU, and now more than ever, with every new movie and streaming series, there’s so much you have to know beforehand to make sense of it all. Whether it’s inter-character history, new faces, prequels, or a variant from the other side of the multiverse, knowing all the ins and outs of the MCU can be daunting.
You have to be a hardcore Marvel fan to understand everything the sprawling universe has to offer, and even then things can still be confusing. When it comes to Sony lending its characters to Marvel Studios, the waters get dicey. Let’s break it down.
Disney, Fox, and the X-Men
Marvel Studios is attempting to incorporate every major character from every franchise across all studios. Despite having its own Quicksilver in Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fox’s Quicksilver actor Evan Peters appeared in WandaVision, though the milestone moment was thrown away as a sophomoric “Bohner” joke. More recently, comic fans lost their collective minds when Patrick Stewart’s distinct voice was heard in the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer. Unless Marvel is planning another Bohner joke, that connects Fox’s X-Men franchise into the MCU.
When it comes to the X-Men movies, bringing them into the fold makes sense. After all, Disney purchased Fox and all its film and television rights, meaning Marvel has full access to the Merry Mutants. With Sony, things are a bit more confusing.
The Sony dilemma
When Spider-Man: Homecoming was released in 2017, it was the culmination of years’ worth of haggling between mega corporations. In the 1990s, well before the House of Mouse bought the House of Ideas, Marvel Comics was in financial turmoil. To make ends meet, it sold the film and television rights to many of its famous characters. Fox purchased the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Hulk and Submariner fell under the Universal banner, Columbia picked up Ghost Rider and partnered with Fox on 2003’s Daredevil, and New Line Cinema brought Blade to life. There was also the most famous of those acquisitions, as Sony acquired the rights to Spider-Man.
Under Sony, there were five Spider-Man movies spread out across two franchises. That doesn’t include the cartoons and video games emblazoned with the Spider-Man logo. For a time, it seemed that the MCU would always be missing key pieces to its MCU puzzle. Then word began to spread that Marvel was willing to negotiate with Sony to bring one of the publisher’s most iconic characters to the big screen. Lo and behold, a deal was reached, and Spider-Man: Homecoming officially introduced a new Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man to the MCU.
It wasn’t smooth sailing after that. After Spider-Man: No Way Home was released in theaters, the Disney-Sony relationship began to crumble, and for a moment, it seemed that Spidey’s MCU days were over. In September of 2019, a new agreement was reached, but it has left fans wondering how long the two corporations will continue working together.
Dogs and cats living together, aka mass hysteria
While Marvel Studios was churning out the Spider-Man movies, Sony was busy piecing together its own universe outside of the MCU. In 2018, an all-new Venom came to live-action, and fans immediately wondered if he would be connected to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Going all the way to the release of the Venom sequel, Let There Be Carnage, the filmmakers hinted that Tom Hardy’s Venom would eventually meet Holland’s web-slinger. Then came the LTBC mid-credits scene, which saw Eddie Brock and his symbiotic, alien life partner shimmer their way into the MCU. In the grand scheme of who’s who in the Marvel movies, it added a new layer of confusion.
The tantalizing mid-credits scene led into Spider-Man: No Way Home. The third Marvel/Sony conglomerate gave fans plenty to cheer about, but it also made things harder for casual fans to understand. By way of the multiverse, the most useful plot device ever conceived, Holland was joined on screen by Sony’s previous Spider-Man actors, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, as well as villains from both franchises including Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, Electro, the Lizard, and the Sandman. All that was missing were the two on-screen Venoms. We did get another mid-credits scene, but it was largely disappointing. It amounted to Eddie listening to a bartender explain the insanity of the MCU before Brock disappeared back into the Sony-verse. However, he did leave a piece of the alien costume behind, which throws yet another wrench into things.
Where does the Sony-verse fit into the MCU?
In the NWH finale, Doctor Strange’s spell not only erased everyone’s memories of Peter Parker, it also sent all the prior Sony characters back to their home dimensions, including Eddie Brock and Venom. With that move, it would seem that Venom and all of Sony’s future comic book movies would exist separate from the MCU. Enter Morbius and more complications.
Like all of Sony’s current superhero slate, the comic book Morbius is part of the Spider-Man family of characters. As we saw in the initial Morbius trailer, there was a poster of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, although it didn’t make it into the movie, as well as a cameo by Michael Keaton as the same Adrian Toomes straight from Homecoming. In the post-credits scenes for Morbius, Toomes was inadvertently sent into the Sony-verse via Doctor Strange’s spell. With the Living Vampire existing in Venom’s cinematic world and Toomes crossing over from Homecoming, that leaves a clear thread between the MCU and the Sony-verse.
Sony’s future Marvel movies
At this point, it would seem that everything that has ever had the Marvel logo attached is somewhere in the multiverse. That means that all Sony’s future Spider-Verse movies are linked to the MCU, whether directly or indirectly.
So far, Sony Pictures has announced that Kraven and Madame Web will star in their own feature films. There has been talk of a Silk movie or streaming series for the past couple of years, and discussions of a Black Cat/Silver Sable team-up flick has been on and off the table for years now. Don’t forget that more Venom movies will be in development as well. One way or another, they are each connected to the MCU.
The biggest plot twist in the Sony-Marvel team-up is Venom, particularly following the events of NWH.
The Black Suit Saga
There’s no question that Tom Hardy’s NWH cameo was a disappointment. Just when fans were preparing for Venom and Spider-Man to square off on the big screen, Marvel dropped the ball. Hardy’s Brock sat at the bar, listened to the story of the Avengers and Thanos, and it was all played for laughs. Then he was caught in another shimmer, which catapulted him back to his home universe. A piece of the alien symbiote was left behind, and that will undoubtedly become part of the MCU Spider-Man lore in some form. Considering how Hardy’s cameo was meant as a joke, it does raise doubts as to how Marvel Studios will handle the symbiote moving forward.
Soon after NWH wowed audiences, a piece of concept art began circling the internet. The image featured Holland with a comics-accurate Venom symbiote crawling over him. More recently, word has spread that a different Venom cameo was filmed for NWH, but it was left on the cutting room floor.
One way or another, it would seem that Marvel is gearing up for the Black Suit Saga. Comic fans are well-versed in this story of how Peter Parker’s world was upended by the sentient costume. From Battleworld to the Marvel-616 to Venom, the saga took years to tell how the black suit went from Peter to Eddie Brock.
How would this fit into the Sony-verse? Once again, it is a wrench thrown into the interconnected universes.
Clearly, Hardy is Sony’s Venom, and there has been no talk of him stepping down from the role. Both Venom movies have been box office hits, and Sony will surely churn out more in the near future, which begs the question of what will happen with the black suit in the MCU. Considering the Holland concept art, Marvel would appear to be planning the Black Suit Saga, which would introduce another symbiote. The artwork was clearly Venom, and that makes fans wonder if there will be two Venoms, one in the MCU and one in the Sony-verse. Because if there’s anything we need here, it’s more confusion.
There and back again
The path from the Sony-verse to the MCU and back to Sony is a long and winding one. Picture it as a mountainous road, and one false move could send you careening off a cliff. Yet, the scene is undeniably beautiful and worth the effort. That is Marvel and Sony’s relationship.
After No Way Home, it would be easy for Sony to transition back into its standalone movie universe. It already has its star attraction in Venom, and there has been ample gossip that the fan reception for Maguire and Garfield has led the Sony executives to consider extending those individual franchises. There’s also scuttlebutt that the two Spider-Men will star in a sort of “buddy cop” movie.
No matter what course Sony takes in its cinematic universe, all roads eventually lead to Marvel and the MCU. As NWH proved, there’s a large audience for multiple Spider-Men and the entire family of Spider-Verse characters. Marvel rules the box office, and partnering with them means more money than Sony Pictures could earn on its own. Going forward, it makes sense for Sony to remind us in each new movie that, indeed, the Sony-verse lives inside the greater MCU.