As indicated by the trailer, this is what happens in Morbius. Sort of. For the most part, the movie is a self-contained story which, save for references to the Daily Bugle, could exist in a narrative vacuum: despite what we saw in that early trailer, there’s no graffiti acknowledging the existence of Spider-Man, nor does it show much in the way of a sense of place. That is until after the film finishes, and we get the first post-credits scene.
As with the end of No Way Home, when the multiverse rips open and myriad villains threaten to enter Tom Holland’s world, the New York skyline tears with a glistening shimmer. Cut to a prison cell: Michael Keaton’s Vulture appears outta nowhere, apparently unperplexed by the fact that he has just been plucked from his own earth — and, y’know, his family, for whom his deep care and affection in the first MCU Spidey outting made him a compelling, well-rounded antagonist.
Because this universe has no record of an ‘Adrian Toombes’ (another strike: what the fuck happened to the logic of variants?) he’s immediately released. But wait! There’s another post-credits sting, naturally — and this time, we find Morbius driving very fast on a dimly-lit highway.
Bear in mind that for most of the film, Morbius has been sold as a sympathetic anti-hero at worst, if not a somewhat flawed, virtuous protagonist. His impulse may be to consume human blood, but thanks to his own invention of a blue artificial replacement, he can quell his murderous instincts. He comes to a clearing next to the road: down Vulture swoops in his full MCU costume, which apparently also zipped over to the new world.
Cue Keaton going full Sam Jackson in Hombre de Hierro mode. “I’ve been reading up on your stuff,” he tells Morbius. “I’m putting together a team. You in?”
Look, the Sinister Six has been inevitable for as long as Spider-Man has proven the most profitable intellectual property in the world. Sony already set up an attempt in the post-credits scene of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, eventually canned because that film was both a critical and commercial bust. The release of Venom back in 2018 signed the intent to eventually return to the idea, and it has only been galivanized by the fervid fan reaction to No Way Home, and the reintroduction of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s old Spider-Men. As has been said numerous times, nostalgia is a helluva drug; but its close bedfellow, familiarity, is just as potent.
That is, after all, why the egregious mining of intellectual property has become Hollywood’s default over the last decade and a half. Hombre de Hierro set the ball rolling in 2008, and eleven avengers became one of the highest-grossing films of all time four years later, all bets were off: the more franchises you mash together, the more familiar faces that team up or otherwise come into conflict, the more butts you can get on seats. It isn’t always an artistically vacant move, and even when it is, it can be enjoyable: No Way Home is a prime example of something you would consider a cynical commercial ploy at best, but you can equally appreciate the presence of demand, and that it was done in a reasonably interesting way.