Alfred Molina, Andrew Garfield, and Kirsten Dunst Returning for 'Spider-Man 3'
Tobey Maguire is also in talks to return as the original Peter Parker, while Emma Stone is expected to return as Gwen Stacy.
Today, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed rumors that Alfred Molina will be reprising his role as Doctor Octopus for Marvel Studios' third Spider-Man film. Molina played the iconic villain in 2004's Spider-Man 2, becoming a fan-favorite character in a movie that many fans still regard as the best Spider-Man film to date. Molina's involvement seems to further confirm the speculation that Tom Holland's third solo movie is becoming more of a live-action adaptation of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, following the return of Jamie Foxx's Electro from 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the involvement of Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange.
Collider further reports that Andrew Garfield is confirmed to return as Peter Parker from the The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, Kirsten Dunst will be reprising her role as Mary Jane from the original Spider-Man films, and Emma Stone is expected to return as Gwen Stacy if her pregnancy permits. Tobey Maguire is said to still be in talks with Marvel and Sony, but hopefully the studios can close a deal with him soon.
While this news is extremely exciting, how do all these returning characters fit together? Electro and Gwen Stacy died in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 while Doc Ock sacrificed himself to save Peter in Spider-Man 2, making it difficult for the same characters to return. One option is that the actors are playing alternate universe versions of themselves, so Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy could be from a universe separate from The Amazing Spider-Man's where she survived Peter's battle with the Green Goblin. This theory appears to be supported by many different pieces of information. Firstly, J.K. Simmons returned as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but he was playing a different version of the character and not the same one seen in Sam Raimi's original films. Jamie Foxx stated in a now-deleted Instagram post that Electro "won't be blue in this one", referencing the infamous color the character took on in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 rather than sticking to the classic green-and-yellow costume from the comics. Finally, Emma Stone's rumored return began circulating a few weeks ago, and it was said that Sony wanted her to debut as a live-action Spider-Gwen, taking inspiration from the alternate universe in which Gwen Stacy was bitten by the spider and became Spider-Woman after Peter's untimely death. While I like the alternate universe theory, it's also possible that the characters were simply plucked out of their timeline before they died in their respective movies.
The multiverse saga in Marvel Studios' Spider-Man 3 will likely be sparked by Scarlet Witch's actions in WandaVision, which begins streaming on Disney+ on January 15th. Her actions will carry through Peter's film and into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is where most fans expected to see all of these Spider-Man characters return. Spider-Man 3 being stuffed with multiverse characters does seem to imply that Tom Holland could appear in the Doctor Strange sequel, as he has one last Marvel Studios film on his contract after his final solo outing.
Personally, I never expected the third Spider-Man film to be so full. I thought it would follow Peter on the run around the world, with Kraven the Hunter being the main villain and maybe Norman Osborn finally stepping out of the shadows. However, with the introduction of so many old heroes and villains, it looks like Marvel wants to give DC's The Flash movie a run for their money by bringing back all of the Spider-Men before DC brings back the Batmen. It also looks like the Sinister Six could be assembling in this film with a team made up of villains from every Spider-Man dimension. We already have Vulture and Mysterio from the MCU, Homecoming's Scorpion is confirmed to return, and with Molina's Doc Ock and Foxx's Electro, only one member is missing from the lineup. I'd love to see Willem Dafoe return as the Green Goblin to lead the team, but I'm also worried at the scale of Tom Holland's final solo movie.
It seems like Marvel no longer wants smaller movies. Many of their upcoming "solo" films, including Spider-Man 3, Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Captain Marvel 2 appear to be Civil War-size events on their own. Thor 4 has Thor, Jane Foster as The Mighty Thor, Valkyrie, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and has been described as "Avengers 5" by The Hollywood Reporter. Doctor Strange 2 will continue its exploration of the multiverse and include Scarlet Witch and America Chavez in major supporting roles, while Captain Marvel 2 is rumored to be adapting the Secret Invasion storyline for the MCU, a plot which draws in all of the Marvel universe's heroes. I hope Kevin Feige knows what he's doing, because while he's been successful with his plans in the past, I'm afraid that it'll be overwhelming to get five huge, universe-altering movies in a span of 8 months while also having multiple Disney+ series running in between them. That being said, I am extremely excited to see the original stars return in the third Spider-Man film, and I hope that their appearances are extended cameos rather than major characters so that Tom Holland and Zendaya have plenty of room to breathe in their final outing together.
Are you excited to see all of these characters and actors return, or are you also concerned about Spider-Man 3 growing too large? Who are you most excited to see again? Comment below!
The untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel releases on December 17th, 2021.