Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy is a mixed bag. The first two movies (and the second one especially) are held in very high esteem, but the third? Let's just say Spider-Man: No Way Home should have no trouble being the best Spider-Man 3.
But if that's not enough for you — if you need the official Spider-Man 3 erased from canon, if not quite from cinematic history — then here's some good news. The combination of No Way Home and the upcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage provides a roadmap for wiping Raimi's third Spider-flick from the record books.
The Paper Trail — In the trailer for director Andy Serkis' Venom: Let There Be Carnage, actor Stephen Graham (who plays Detective Mulligan) sits and reads the Daily Bugle. Even the most casual Spider-Man fan knows the Daily Bugle is the name of the paper Peter Parker works for under the thumb of tyrannical editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson.
One look at the Daily Bugle logo on the newspaper makes one thing clear: this is not the same Daily Bugle as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the MCU, JK Simmons once again plays "Triple J," but he runs an unhinged website, not a paper. The logo is very different. See for yourself:
So, this helps clear one thing up: Sony's Venom franchise and Marvel Studios' Spider-Man movies are set in entirely different universes — even though a door may be opening to connect them soon.
One Bugle to Rule Them All — Eagle-eyed Spider-Man fans watching the Venom trailer might have spotted something very interesting: Detective Mulligan's copy of the Daily Bugle features the exact same logo as the Daily Bugle featured in the Sam Raimi trilogy.
Here it is, in Raimi's Spider-Man, when Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker is about to embark on a job hunt:
Is this nothing more than fan service? A signal that Sony's specific Spider-Man universe is different than the Marvel movies? Or is there something more going on here?
Here's one possible answer: Venom 2 means the complete erasure of Spider-Man 3, and the firm return of Maguire's Peter Parker. The Daily Bugle says it all: the Venom movies and the Raimi movies exist in the same universe. But how is that possible if Venom was already in the Raimi movies?
In other words: if Venom and Raimi’s Spider-Man movies exist in the same universe (and, according to the Daily Bugle, they just might) that means Topher Grace’s version of Eddie Brock can’t exist — and neither can the rest of Spider-Man 3.
On the surface, this seems great, but by erasing Spider-Man 3 from Spidey canon, Venom 2 could be blowing a hole through the entire Marvel and Sony cinematic universe. Buckle up, we’re about to get weird.
Welcome to the Spider-verse — Through Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has established that time travel results in splintered universes. Spider-Man: No Way Home will allegedly bring back both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's respective Spider-Men. Let's take that as a given. Whatever occurs to bring the Maguire and Garfield versions of Peter Parker together with Tom Holland's Peter Parker means an opportunity to rewrite what's already been written.
In other words, Maguire's Peter Parker maybe never encountered Venom in Spider-Man 3, because Spider-Man 3 didn't happen at all.
In this possible alternate reality, Topher Grace's smarmy Eddie Brock from Spider-Man 3 never encountered Venom following a jealous fit of rage toward Maguire’s Peter Parker. Instead, he grew up to become Tom Hardy's brooding Brock, and ended up encountering Venom in a much more audience-approved manner.
This possible rift in Spider-space and time opens the door for future stories set within the "Raimiverse," from Hardy's Venom movies to whatever else Sony wishes to pursue — including, potentially, more Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies.
(Not for nothing, it also leaves open the possibility of fixing Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man movies, such as not killing off Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy and instead allowing her to thrive in future movies as Spider-Gwen. Food for thought!)
So, how important is the Venom franchise to the MCU? The real question is: how important is the MCU to the Venom franchise?
If the multiverse rules apply, then we have a very real path forward for fixing some of the worst Spider-Man movie mistakes of the past, and paving a bold new way forward for Peter Parker on screen — and it's all thanks to a shared Daily Bugle logo. And you thought print was dead!
Venom: Let There Be Carnage arrives on September 24, 2021.