Cumberbatch’s casting marks the third major crossover between the films produced by Disney’s Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man” movies with Holland, after Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark appeared in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury appeared in 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
The casting makes sense given that Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange is based in New York City, as is Holland’s Peter Parker, and the characters first shared the screen in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” during their battle with Thanos. The third “Spider-Man” movie is set to begin production in Atlanta with director Jon Watts in November. Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon and Tony Revolori are all expected to reprise their roles from the previous two “Spider-Man” films.
Cumberbatch himself is due to star in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” for Marvel Studios, which, in a further bit of meta-universe kismet, will be helmed by former “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi. That film is also expected to go into production in November in London, suggesting Cumberbatch may have learned how to cast a spell to be in two places at once during a pandemic.
Popular on Variety
Joking aside, Cumberbatch’s casting in the new “Spider-Man” further suggests that the upcoming slate of films in both the MCU and Sony’s cinematic Spidey-verse could lean heavily into the narrative possibilities of the multiverse. That could prove quite helpful for future “Spider-Man” movies — if a bit tangled up in some sticky corporate dealmaking.
Last year, after the billion-dollar success of “Far From Home,” Sony and Disney nearly broke up their unprecedented agreement to share the Spider-Man character within the MCU. Their new deal allows for a third Spider-Man film to be produced by Marvel Studios, and for Holland’s web-slinger to appear in another Marvel Studios movie for Disney.
After that, however, it’s unclear if Sony and Disney’s partnership will continue. But Sony is still moving full steam ahead with movies drawn from the Spider-Man universe of comics, including “Morbius” with Jared Leto and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” with Tom Hardy. To date, Holland’s Spidey has only appeared in MCU movies. But if Doctor Strange introduces the possibility of multiple universes to Holland’s Spider-Man films, it could allow for the character to exist in future Sony movies that aren’t produced by Marvel Studios.
The third “Spider-Man” movie is scheduled to open in theaters on Dec. 17, 2021; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is set to open on March 25, 2022.