Avengers: Secret Wars is set to act as the epic culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ongoing Multiverse Saga, complete with endless exciting possibilities for the franchise’s future and, if Spider-Man: No Way Home has proven anything, Marvel’s past. It is very likely that the sixth Avengers movie will reintroduce characters from past Marvel films and franchises, especially those predating the MCU’s first entry in 2008. If this is the case, it presents Marvel Studios with a unique opportunity to improve on some of their less beloved titles, especially those that never got the chance to live up to their full potential as a franchise.

Spider-Man: No Way Home set the precedent for Marvel Multiverse movies in late 2021, featuring the return of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire as their respective versions of Spider-Man. Garfield’s version received particular praise after his exciting return in the film, perhaps even becoming the most entertaining Spider-Man variant in No Way Homedespite the highly controversial reception to his short-lived stint as the star in Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Manfranchise. Given the success of his return in the Spider-Man sequel, it’s clear that Andrew Garfield’s triumphant return and subsequent redemption must act as Marvel’s roadmap to whatever cameos Secret Wars may feature when it finally hits theaters in 2026.

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Secret Wars Can See The Return Of Any Past Marvel Character

Secret Wars comic backdrop frames Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Chris Evans's Human Torch

While very little regarding the plot of Secret Wars has yet been confirmed by Marvel Studios, it appears very likely that the highly-anticipated Avengers film will feature the return of multiple pre-MCU characters from throughout the Multiverse. Virtually any character from any Marvel film is on the table for a cameo or featured appearance in this epic crossover film. And, as the finale to the MCU Phase 6 and the Multiverse Saga in general, Secret Wars needs an exciting story and cast in order to properly satisfy its viewers and surpass the epic nature of Avengers: Endgame, the conclusion to the Infinity Saga. Returning Multiversal characters truly seems to be the Multiverse Saga’s clearest path forward.

Theories regarding returning superhero cameos in Secret Wars are not merely the imaginings of over-excited fans. In fact, such predictions do have a solid basis in Marvel Comics, specifically the 2015 crossover event on which the upcoming film is based. The event saw heroes from Earth-616 clash with their counterparts from the Ultimate Universe on Battleworld, an interdimensional plane on which the fates of their two universes would be decided. After the second Doctor Strange film introduced incursions to the MCU, it seems highly likely that an incursion event would become the premise of Secret Wars, forcing two or more worlds from throughout the Multiverse to battle for their very survival.

While the comic book version of Secret Wars primarily dealt with only two universes within the wider Multiverse, its film adaptation could easily adjust the storyline to deal with several Earths, including the setting for each of Marvel’s prior film universes. This opens the door to any past universe being revisited, from Fox’s X-Men universe to Sony’s Venom-centered franchise, and even the long-forgotten worlds of 2003’s Daredevil and 2005’s Swamp Thing. Even Marvel Studios titles indirectly tied to the MCU, including What If…? can be grafted into Secret Wars’storyline. The endless possibilities for revisiting worlds within the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse have made Secret Wars one of the most exciting upcoming entries in the long-running franchise.

How Spider-Man No Way Home Redeems The Amazing Spider-Man

Andrew Garfield in costume in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Spider-Man: No Way Home opened up the door to revisiting past versions of Marvel characters, with the not-so-surprising return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as their versions of Spider-Man. While fans were certainly excited to see both actors return as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Garfield certainly made the biggest impact in his triumphant reunion with the role, quickly becoming a highlight of the already entertaining film. This was especially surprising given the short-lived nature of his own franchise, with The Amazing Spider-Man 3 being canceled after lukewarm reactions from critics and audiences to the first two films, effectively bringing an end to Sony’s announced plans to spin Andrew Garfield’s films into a full-blown cinematic universe.

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The starkly different response to Garfield’s role as Peter Parker in No Way Home compared to in The Amazing Spider-Man movies likely stems from the most recent film’s embracing the actor’s great comedic talents and allowing him to truly shine unencumbered by various ploys at kickstarting a franchise, as was the case with his original movies. For once, Garfield was allowed to fully shine in all his glory, proving once and for all that his Spider-Man’s potential was utterly wasted. Moreover, frequent criticisms regarding Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Peter Parker, including his perceived lack of nerdiness, seemed to have been completely addressed, giving audiences little reason not to love the returning Spider-Man.

Since Andrew Garfield’s return in No Way Home, much of the online hate directed toward his Amazing Spider-Man franchise has been alleviated. His role in the most recent film saw his character redeemed from past mistakes and directly address how losing Gwen changed him. Leading to increased interest in his return in some form. Certain dedicated viewers have called for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 to finally happen at Sony after its cancelation and, while such a project has yet to be confirmed, others are calling for Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man in the Venomverse. While this is all conjecture, it is fair to say that the public’s perception of this version of Spider-Man has changed drastically.

Which Heroes Might Be Redeemed In Secret Wars

Chris Evans as Human Torch in the original Fantastic Four

With the unmitigated success of Andrew Garfield’s redemption as Spider-Man in No Way Home, it is abundantly clear that many of Marvel’s lesser-loved renditions of iconic comic book characters can receive similar treatment in Secret Wars. In the lead-up to the film, the question merely remains which of Marvel’s botched live-action adaptations will receive the “Andrew Garfield” treatment and which will be left behind? And, as exciting as such a prospect would be, it is certainly unreasonable to expect that Secret Wars will bring back every Marvel hero. Rather, it would be most prudent on the part of Marvel Studios to single out specific characters from their past to return for one last ride.

One of the most striking possibilities for a Secret Wars return comes from Marvel’s long and unloved history with live-action adaptations of The Fantastic Four. While a returning cameo from the much-maligned 2015 reboot may not pack the nostalgic punch that Marvel Studios is looking for, the prospect of revisiting the original 2005 franchise is far more exciting. Chris Evans’s Human Torch stands out as a fantastic potential cameo, especially given the actor’s other endeavors with Marvel. If the MCU addresses the mistakes of Marvel’s prior Fantastic Four films, it would be scintillating to revisit this variant, and an actor so crucial to the early days of the MCU.

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With Marvel’s long history of movies, there is no shortage of adaptations to draw from for Secret Wars. Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider, for example, would be a perfect choice for a cameo given the actor’s continued popularity and the character’s sparse live-action appearances since Cage’s franchise ended. Wesley Snipes’s Blade, while not a failed adaptation by any means, could also receive a more satisfying conclusion to his arc than the end of his trilogy of films provided, especially in the wake of the MCU’s upcoming Blade reboot. Secret Wars comics characters missing from the MCU can also be placed in crucial roles by returning characters, including several cast members of Fox’s recent reboot of the X-Men films.

How Copying No Way Home Can Help Secret Wars

Split Image: Avengers rush toward a battle; Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man ponders the existence of Avengers

As exciting a film as Secret Wars is, one would be forgiven for wondering if its premise might be doomed to fail from the start. The idea of reintroducing countless heroes from prior franchises in addition to the vast catalog of heroes already present in the MCU risks making the film feel overstuffed and directionless. However, by focusing on specific heroes who weren’t done justice by their original appearances, Secret Wars can justify its lofty Multiversal antics. And, in so doing, Secret Wars can become even bigger than Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, proving that the Marvel Cinematic Universe still has plenty of new ideas after the end of the Infinity Saga, despite recent claims to the contrary.

Secret Wars may have the most potential of any other Marvel movie in history, with the opportunity to revisit past franchises definining the buzz leading up to its premiere. Although jamming the film full of cameos may be satisfying in one sense, Andrew Garfield’s well-earned redemption as a featured player in recent MCU events proves that the best path forward is to redeem the character iterations that fell short of their potential. And, as the conclusion to the ongoing Multiverse Saga, Secret Wars has major stakes for the MCU and its future. But, if Marvel Studios only follows the Andrew Garfield formula set up in No Way Home, Avengers: Secret Warsis certain to be a hit.

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