Those fake Spider-Man 3 titles may be yesterday's news, but even with an official name in place, the likes of Phone Home, Home-Wrecker and Home Slice reveal more than they appear.
Marvel's next Spider-Man adventure (which we now know is titled Spider-Man: No Way Home) is highly rumored to feature characters from Sony’s past live-action Spider-Man films, including Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s iterations of Peter Parker. Previous reports have also suggested the film will feature Jamie Foxx and Alfred Molina as Electro and Doc Ock, respectively. However, it’s still unknown who will be the main villain of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It has been heavily rumored Kraven the Hunter could be the film’s surprise antagonist (and this in-on-the-joke tweet from Jimmy Kimmel certainly fans those flames), but a new fan theory posits something else entirely — something that, if true, will change the Marvel Cinematic Universe's entire landscape in a fundamental way, and could even pave the way for a fifth Avengers.
The Theory — There were 3 fake titles released for the new Spider-Man this week prior to the official No Way Home announcement. While the titles themselves (Phone Home, Home Slice, and Home-Wrecker) are suspected to be vague hints at the film’s multiverse-centric story, the actual logos for the three titles could also reveal the film’s mystery villain.
As was pointed out by some keen-eyed Marvel fans on Twitter, the colors of the three logos match the design of the comics outfit (and glider) of Spider-Man's most iconic enemy: The Green Goblin.
A Formidable Dafoe
The Green Goblin is probably Spider-Man’s most well-known villain, thanks in no small part to Sam Raimi's 2002 movie starring Willem Dafoe as "Stormin'" Norman Osborn. The character was also featured in The Amazing Spider-Man movies, albeit briefly, with Chris Cooper in the role.
In the Marvel Studios era, however, Norman's lurked in the shadows, if he's lurking at all. The MCU Spider-verse has instead opted for villains not featured in previous movies: Vulture and Mysterio, specifically. But it’s hard to imagine Marvel will just avoid using the character altogether, especially given the role that a character like Norman could play in the MCU.
With Tony Stark gone — and Stark Industries taking a backseat as a result — the MCU could use a new powerful, genius billionaire to fill that role, similar to how S.W.O.R.D. is taking over for S.H.I.E.L.D. Some have theorized that Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer could return in that exact capacity, but there’s also the potential for Marvel to use another tech corporation from the comics instead, such as Norman Osborn's OsCorp.
(Here's an interesting aside: After the events of Secret Invasion in the comics, Osborn becomes director of a S.H.I.E.L.D. successor known as H.A.M.M.E.R. — which could certainly fall Justin's way, but there's precedent for Norman to wield the proverbial weapon.)
Turn On The 'Dark'
Even if you put aside what Norman Osborn could do as an evil, nefarious in-universe version of Tony, the character still has the potential to be a powerful ongoing villain in the MCU. Case in point: while Norman has done many things in the comics and taken on multiple aliases at different times, one of his most interesting accomplishments was the formation of a super-team with a familiar (if nefarious) name: the Dark Avengers.
The Dark Avengers, as the name implied, featured prominent villains in heroic disguise. Could we see a similar team in the MCU, with Norman in the lead? It's worth considering, what with how many villains are rumored to be appearing in Phase 4. Characters like Kang the Conqueror, Nightmare, Mephisto, and the High Evolutionary have all been discussed as potential new MCU adversaries, albeit with varying degrees of certainty. Even when it comes to the most concrete of the lot, who knows which of these villains will be the one to pick up Thanos' veritable (if not literal) gauntlet moving forward.
But what if there isn’t just one single Phase 4 villain? Instead, what if there's a team of villains? And what if the one who brings them together is Norman Osborn? And what if these Dark Avengers are the "heroes" at the heart of a fifth Avengers movie?
It's a deadly proposition, no doubt about it. But for Marvel fans without the deep-cut comics connection, Norman Osborn leading his own Avengers squad would an unexpected twist, one that fully differentiates the future phases of the MCU from all that's come before.
The Inverse Analysis — Norman Osborn is one of the most interesting villains in the Marvel pantheon, so the prospect of him playing a role in the MCU moving forward is obviously an exciting one.
Of course, there is the chance that the colors of those fake Spider-Man 3 logos don’t mean anything. What's more, No Way Home is already loaded with iconic characters, heroes and villains alike; some rumored, some confirmed.
And yet, it's Norman Osborn. In his own way, he's just like Thanos: inevitable.
If the fake Spider-Man title colors do add up to a Green Goblin appearance as this theory suggests, then Spider-Man: No Way Home may be an even bigger film for the MCU than the already sprawling multiverse possibilities suggest.
Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters December 17, 2021.